Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pre-spring & other things about which to rant

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It would be pretty easy to have a stand within shooting distance of this little patch of turnips.

This pre-spring time of year always baffles me. I am never sure just what I should be doing. If we have a tolerable day, there is a chance D. Earl Durham and I might go try and catch some sauger or something. Other than that, there is not a lot I need to do.

I no longer have to scout new and old deer territory and I don't fight the cold to try and find smallmouth. I also have no need to locate turkeys for the coming season. Looks like what I have is a plethora of time to cogitate on things.

This baiting thing
Once again. The subject of legalizing baiting deer has come up. Once again, I am opposed to it. There are several reasons but two major ones, come to mind.

However, I have no concern too many deer will get killed. That does not bother me at all.

First, when you congregate animals at one site-such as a bait station-you increase the chance of spreading disease. I am not crying CWD. I am not nearly as paranoid about that as some. In fact, I'm sure it has been in TN and every other state that has deer for many years. I'm just talking about diseases in general, especially the ones that can be contracted from the feed itself and passed through body fluids.

I also feel, to a large degree, baiting and even food plots and cameras have greatly decreased the learning and passing on of woodsmanship and hunting skills to young hunters. I'll explain.

In the golden, olden days, we found deer by scouting. We learned to identify trees and find preferred food sources. We mapped the trails leading to them. We knew when food sources changed and when deer changed their travel patterns. We read and understood scrapes and rubs. From all that, we picked our stand trees. We knew the woods. To a large degree, that is not how it is done today. Today, many hunters learn to hunt by watching television. Instead of finding deer and selecting a stand site, many of today's hunters just lure the deer to wherever they want them to come. To me, that is not hunting. That is just shooting.

Today we plant rich, green food plots. Not to provide extra nutrition for the deer, but to attract them so we can shoot them. Then, to avoid having to figure what trails they use, we put out cameras to do that. Instead of deciphering rubs and scrapes, again, we simply look at our trail camera pictures. We pre-determine what deer we want to shoot before we ever lay eyes on him. Think how much easier it would be if we could bait them to one specific spot.

I am not opposed to food plots. They do provide some supplemental food. It is the way we use them that bothers me. Yes, I have hunted over food plots and yes, I have killed a few deer in them. To the best of my recollection, all but one were does. However, I have not done a lot of food plot hunting with the exception of when I hunt White Oak Plantation where I shoot does and only hunt food plots in the afternoons.

All of this has led to no longer needing to teach scouting and pass hunting skills on to our youngsters. We just say, "Bubba, go get in the ladder stand by the field corner and when the eight-point walks out, he will be 45-yards away. As soon as he gets out in the food plot, shoot him."

To me, that isn't hunting. That is just shooting.

Certainly this opinion will draw a great deal of criticism. But in the last 25-years, I have seen exactly what I am talking about get increasingly more prevalent. I am beginning to think, there are no hunters under 40-years of age who could be placed in a 500-acre hardwood forest and have the slightest idea how to scout or hunt it. It appears to me, scouting is becoming a lost art.

But that is just me and I enjoyed the 40-50 days I would spend each post season scouting. Then, in the late summer, I would go back and confirm my findings and pick stand sites. I do believe, I have covered every acre of the 21,000 acre Cheatham WMA and I killed many deer there. Now all I hear from hunters is how bad the hunting is there. Maybe, they just don't know how or where to look.

But it is pre-spring. Let's boil some crawfish and play a hand or two of bouray.

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