Today is Thursday, March 23, 2017

No. 61 and counting

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This deer is bigger and better this year. He is 4.5 years-old and a good deer for Wilson County.

This Saturday, just three days from now, Lord willing and weather and health permitting, I shall enjoy my 61st opening day of deer season.

My great aunt Fannie! The changes I have seen in those years.

Lemme tell you about some of them and then, I'll bring you up to speed if need be on the changes here.

When I first began deer hunting in the swamps of Louisiana, we ran them with dogs...if the dogs could find one.

It was not unusual to go an entire season and see maybe, one deer. Not shoot or kill one, just see a deer.

In Illinois, the first year I hunted there, I killed fair eight point at Crab Orchard and it was front page news.

In Sangamon County where I lived, there were no deer. Now it is gold mine.

In Wyoming and the Dakotas, my next stop, there were plenty of mule deer and almost no whitetails. Now, they abound in both places.

Then, I moved here. My first two seasons, I saw no bucks, hunting in Wilson County.

Then, about 1976, I started bow hunting again and killed two does and it grew from there.

In the first few years here, I mostly hunted squirrels, rabbits and quail. I had some pretty fair dogs for all three. Can't remember the last time I saw a wild quail.

Thanks to solid, sound management, not greatly encumbered with the burgeoning and misplaced trophyism, we have a healthy, well balanced, both in sex and age, deer herd.

Yes, there are pockets of over-population and pockets of under-population. That is true of all statewide deer management programs.

So come Saturday, at daylight, along with my dreaded but needed TenPoint crossbow, I'll be greeting another of God's days and hoping my glasses don't fog up just at the wrong time.

This year, as last, we can kill three does a day in this unit. And we can kill two bucks for the entire year. But there is one big change.

If it is a male deer -- a buck -- and the antlers protrude above the hairline, you must check it in as a buck.

If it is a male deer but the antlers do not protrude above the hairline, it is considered and antlerless deer.

Remember that.

Also remember the new penalties for poaching. It can get expensive. As always, wear your fall restraint device if you are hunting off the ground.

I'll be selective this year, more so than usual. I am not going to shoot a big doe unless she is heading toward the truck and as it has been the past few years, I'll probably not be trophy hunting.

However, I have seen two bucks that did get my heart pumping.

Apparently, one of the 3.5 year-old bucks from last year survived and is quite nice.

And, there is a new kid on the block that could be quite tempting.

So on cool mornings, mornings when the sun is just right and the wind perfect, I'll probably fill the freezers of a couple friends, if I can and then, maybe...just maybe, I'll use the black powder season for one of the bucks.

I know I can call The Judge, Victor or Big Bird to help me drag one out. The Judge needs the workout to get ready for a New Mexico, elk hunt.

Good luck my friends and hunt safe.

May all of you enjoy 61 years of deer hunting before it becomes completely electronic?

Our archery deer season runs from September 24 through October 28 then, reopens, after the Young Sportsman hunt, on Oct. 31 through November 4.

Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com

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