Well here we are, folks. Fall is in the air and hunting season is just around the corner. Hunting season is important to me. I work so I can support my hunting adventures.
Now, I am not a good hunter. Sometimes I kill four or five squirrels a morning. Some years I kill three deer (Louisiana). Some few years I kill two turkeys (again, Louisiana). I have to work to be successful.
I shoot my rifles nearly all year to maintain confidence in my firearms. Generally speaking, I use the best optics I can afford in order to see and recognize game.
And every year I bump into someone and overhear the excitement of someone getting into a new hunting club. Then I ask, “Where are you hunting?” I hear the invariable, “I got in the Low Blow Club. They're in the big buck program; they shoot only 8 points, 15 inches or better.”
Good grief Charlie Brown! How in blue blazes can you possibly have big bucks when they are shot at 15 inches? Surely the “pet rock” syndrome has overflowed.
Being raised on a farm, being fairly well formally educated and just noticing membership rollover in various deer hunting clubs have been a learning experience.
Sure, a “big buck” program sounds good to the average deer hunter. And the parameters of 8-point, 15-inch guidelines make for good deer to talk about. But think just a minute about the end result of your management decisions when you release an arrow or pull the trigger.
First off, you have let spikes, forked horns, oddballs, freak horns and the like roam literally at will. Boy, I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard “that spike has potential.” A spike might, just might, have some potential, on a barbecue pit or in a stew pot.
But do you realize what happens when you take that 8-point, 15-inch deer out of circulation early in the season? You absolutely, positively, 100 percent take that gene pool out of the system. That deer will never be one hanging on the wall that you can tell a story about. He's gone.
Now you can really, really expect that spike or freak horned deer potential might, just maybe, show up next summer.
Can you imagine what some of our cattle herds would look like if we kept our worst heifers and saved our worst bull calves on a yearly basis? Nature in the wild is a little more forgiving, taking out some of the inferior animals in some form or fashion. We as sportsmen can do our part to improve our deer herds through genetics, age and nutrition.
Look again at a scenario I have written about before. Typically, archery season opens first in many states. Shoot spikes, freak horns and barren doe deer. All they are doing is eating foodstuff that productive deer need. Stay with this until after the primary rut. Fill your freezer up, give the widows in your church or civic club a piece of deer meat. Pattern your “shooter” buck during this period.
After the primary rut, hunt your big buck. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out and see the long-term effect of such a yearly plan. I just can't understand the thinking of absolutely letting a visibly inferior animal walk and, with malice and forethought, taking the future, and more often than not, a two and a half year old deer out of the system before it even has half a chance of making 10 points and 20 inches (a mature buck).
So, the next time one of those wildlife specialists speaks at your club meeting, ask him where he hunts, how much his dues are, and how many legally taken mounted deer are in his home.
Start shooting your rifle, gain confidence, get ready, prepare for a safe season. If you get a chance, take a kid fishing or hunting. For that matter, take anyone. One doesn't have to kill to enjoy our outdoors. Some of the best meals and friends are made “at the camp.”