On Saturday there will be an army of people in the woods with high-powered rifles after white-tail deer. For some reason, I can never relax during deer season. I live in the woods and it can be dangerous. Two Kansas City greenhorns have leased a neighbors land.
Some of my apprehension has to do with those long-range rifles capable of killing a water buffalo a half-mile away. Some of it has to do with knowing there are so many of them out there in the woods who are shooters, not hunters; adorned in blaze orange and with a lot of ammo. Most country people are not crazy about opening weekend of the deer season. It is a good weekend to lose a goat or a calf.
Few experienced outdoorsmen really think that deer hunting is really ‘hunting’. It’s something far from that…blaze orange takes the hunting aspect away. That and the fact that perhaps half of those in the woods this weekend will be there only once a year. It’s sort of like referring to yourself as a farmer because you set out some tomato plants in the spring and own a half dozen chickens.
There isn’t too much to killing a deer. If you can hit a basketball at 50 yards with a rifle, and if you can walk back in the woods a few hundred yards and sit in one place for a few hours, you’ve got a very good chance of getting something. Nobody has to walk far now because a large number of today’s deer hunters use ATV’s in place of legs.
I dread most, that time close to noon when so many of the deer hunters who haven’t killed a deer start shooting cans or signs or stumps. I always hunted from a tree stand for many reasons, one of them being, I don’t want a rifle bullet I fire to go anywhere other than into the ground should I miss. When I hear about deer drives, it makes me cringe. So many running deer, and bullets fired at horizons, is a scary thing. A growing number of hunters are out there to kill a trophy buck. I hate that word, ‘trophy’. What kind of man needs a trophy? Scoring a set of antlers is suddenly a big thing. What nonsense that seems to be to me! Today there are lots of deer hunters who are there only for a set of big antlers. Many of those trophy hunters will take only the loins and leave the rest of a buck in the woods but the antlers. The Share Your Harvest program was instigated only to give trophy hunters something to do with bucks they kill after they take the cape and antlers. That program keeps them legal. Now they don’t have to feel guilty about what they do.
But there are also all those who will do it right, who will be safe and sober and intent on hunting…. those who intend to keep their deer, take care of the meat and give little thought to trophies. I have always been one of them, and I know many who feel likewise.
I am fortunate in that I will soon see the woods completely devoid of anyone once again. In a few days most of the city hunters have gone, and us country folks can relax a bit.
Just the other evening, well before the deer season, I was in the woods squirrel hunting and I sat on a hillside watching the sunset through a canopy of quickly changing leaves, gold and yellow and orange and green. It was a spectacular thing to see and listen to and experience, miles from civilization where there was no manmade sounds at all.
The Department of Conservation always sends me and my daughter a half dozen free deer tags, wanting us to kill and have tested, deer from our land, to see if there are CWD individuals. What a joke that is… they won’t let us have the landowner tags because I refused to register my land with them! So they send me free tags, and if I asked for a dozen I would get them. I am allowed to use bait to get deer with those free tags, and if I want to give some of the tags to a friend, that is okay with them. And those free tags are good until sometime in March.
But if I kill a deer it is because I have some elderly folks who want some venison and they are leery of eating meat from the “Share Your Harvest” program. If you are going to hunt on opening weekend, and do not have a tree stand, I advise you to find a big tree to sit against and face into the wind. The fact that so many hunters begin to move around after the first hour or so makes it easier for a still hunter to see deer, because many are being pushed from one area to another by wandering hunters.
Baiting deer is commonplace nowadays. Large concentrations of ‘deer corn’ in 40- pound bags now adorn the aisles of local sporting goods stores a month before deer season, and they are usually sold out by opening day. That doesn’t seem to bother anyone, least of all the conservation departments. And agents won’t get very far from their pickups, so bait placed way back in the woods is never something they will see.
A neighbor told me once, “What difference does it make….. if you kill the number of deer you have legal tags for, who should care what brought them into your sights?” He points out that the Department of Conservation wants deer numbers reduced, and they want to sell as many tags as possible.
“You put a tag on that deer that you paid for,” my friend insists, and you can hit him with a car, electrocute him, or kill him with a hand grenade, and who cares…they got the money, you got the deer.”
I’ll have the fall issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge magazines now and they have been mailed to subscribers. If you’d like to get a copy, call our office, 417 777 5227 and we’ll get one to you. This issue has 120 pages, the largest ever. You can see it, and my books, on the website, www.larrydablemont.com. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo, 65613.