Thanksgiving Deer Hunts, A Great Tradition for Many Across Alabama

Thanksgiving Holiday is a great time to make some Hunting memories! ~postoak~

Another Thanksgiving holiday is near and as much as I enjoy the turkey, cranberry sauce and pecan pie, The most enjoyable part is our traditions away from the table of the feast.

We enjoy the fellowship, the handshakes and hugs, comments and jokes about our everchanging waistlines and hair lines. Seeing the children’s growth and the young adults, some with new spouses or atleast new friends. We speak about how the time has flown, we cry about those who have “passed on” and each year the bittersweet reflections that are just memories are shared again with tears and with grins.

A big part of our “after the turkey” fellowship is a discussion of our past Thanksgiving holiday hunts. We generally find a spot near the fireplace at my father in law’s home after the mid day meal and the old stories begin. The women are off in the kitchen around the table swapping recipes, gossip and shopping strategies for black Friday. We are talking hunting, hunting trips we recall and of course, gear and ammo we use hunting. We used to discuss football and the Iron Bowl but, now it is another “pot strirrer” topic since some of the new inlaws are Auburn grads or fans.

One thing we all have in common and can join in  discussions of, is our love of the Winter woods and the majesty of the cold, gray days we enjoy watching the creatures of the woods go about their lives, mostly oblivious to ours. In the 60′s, 70′s and early 80′s we still had our annual Thanksgiving day dog drive hunts and they were so exciting! The unpredictability of the chase was so much fun, the shared experience of hunting and the satisfaction of the kill were all makers of a wonderful sport and we thought we would always hunt that way. However, in the mid 80′s a dog hunter was somehow viewed by some as a lesser hunter than the guys who hunted from stands our stalking. When the land owner we had leased from for more than 20 years, passed away over the summer that year, his estate was divided and sold by his heirs, our dog hunting days came to an abrupt end.

We took it in stride and got a small lease but, dog hunting was disallowed. The lease was too small for a practical dog hunt anyway so I gave my four hounds away to a trusted acquantance who was a member of a dog club over in another county. We all had lots of experience in stalk and stand hunting so we learned to enjoy it as well. We would draw for stands and help each other when a deer was taken to drag it to the truck. Three wheelers were just getting some notoriety as a hunting tool but, they were not much good at hauling out a big buck up the hills on our lease. Muscle power was still the only way to get a buck to the truck and it was one of our cliches’ about who was man enough to get the buck to the truck!

The older guys, My dad, father in law and several uncles would chide us with tales of how they when they were young and strong they could carry a buck for miles swinging from a “gambling pole” and that we were just not men, just boys! This would always incite us to action while they smiled and laughed all the way out. I remember when my dad killed a nice 10 pointer one thanksgiving hunt, we hauled him around on the hood of our old army surplus jeep and showed him off until dark that day! It was 1967, a cold and raw day. We were poor, dad and mom worked hard, but that night when that big buck was hoisted in our front yard, neighbors cames from miles around, some even took pictures with old brownie cameras and my mom made a movie on our old 8mm camera that we saw a dozen times later at Thanksgiving, Christmas and such, blessed financially with so little and blessed with richness so much!

Every Thanksgiving, a dozen or more great hunts come back to the forefront in my mind. Memories of fun hunts, some great in terms of deer taken, some not. But, the fellowship with each other, the sounds of our dogs, the calls of the drivers, the shouts from them when they jumped deer headed our way, always give me some great thanksgiving deer hunting memories. I have already picked out the old story I plan to talk about around Tony’s fireplace after turkey this week. It’s about a young man who made a 365 yard shot and took a really big 8 pointer before we even turned the dogs out of the box!

Be sure to make some great Thanksgiving deer hunting memories!

~postoak~

 

 

Gun Season for Deer Starts Saturday!

Deer Meat

Time to collect that venison for the freezer! It is the most expensive meat you CAN'T buy! ~postoak~

The time for preparation and practice is just about gone! Saturday is the day to get your hunt on! Deer season starts for gun hunters and the rest of us can choose to leave the sticks at home or continue hunting as many have been since the October bow season began. I plan to take out my 30-06 and start it with a bang!

However, I will not be “huntn’ horns”. I will be nannie knockn’, doe dusting,or just plain ole venison collecting. We got our summer report from the biologist regarding our population counts for the farm and it was not too good! Seems we are over-run with deer and more specifically “non-antlered” as the report stated.. Does, Does, Does, so some has got to go.  My nephew, who manages the farming and hunting decisions has called for a hundred does to be removed and zero bucks to be removed until the does are gone. This, we have mutually agreed, will be a lot of work and that we will not shoot a buck this deer season on the farm property. We do have some other locations of course where we can still shoot a buck, but our focus must be on doe control. I have gotten too old to drag out 20 or 30 does, so I have set a personal quota of 10 does. The biggest issue is proper use of that much deer meat and and the cost of having them processed.

I used to pride myself in handling the processing of all the deer I shot and the fact that I was eating “free meat”. As I got older, I realized the folly of my ways and came to realize that deer meat is never free. I spend thousands each year for club dues, gear, shells, archery equipment, new camo, tree stands and lord knows what else! It is as my wife likes to describe one of my last “vices”, but the enjoyment and health benefits I derive from my many trips to the woods is well worth the cost and time spent!

Recently, I read a report about a move to allow the selling venison. The sale of wild game is prohibited in Alabama and most other states and has been illegal for decades. Originally designed to curtail “market hunting” that caused the steep declines in, and near extinction of many game animals such as deer, ducks, and of course the wild turkey. Market hunting, poaching and year round killing of wild game animals was rampant in the late 1800s and early 1900s. My grandfather, who was born in 1886, told me they rarely saw a deer in his early years over in west Alabama. He said the wild turkey population was wide spread and they took advantage of that by killing turkeys, hens and gobblers alike, with no concern for the season. They were hungry and took advantage of all types of wild game to fill the need for protein along side the garden vegetables they raised. They called rabbits “hoover hogs” in deference to Herbert Hoover who many blamed for the great depression and squirrels were nicknamed “limb chickens”. They also ate raccons, opossums muskrats, nutria and even beaver! I admit to liking the taste of fried coon legs and BBQ’d beaver was not bad! The other animals did not provide an aroma that ever made me want to “chow down” but, I never got that hungry at my grandparents house.

In the 1950s and 60s when I was growing up in the same woods, we had plenty of deer but, not a single wild turkey was left in the area due to a number of factors, the two biggest being, desease and over harvesting. Now days, thanks to the great work of our state and federal conservation programs, Laws such as the Pittman-Robertson Act, private conservation organizations such as the AWF- Alabama Wildlife Federation, QDMA Quality Deer Management Association and the NWTF- National Wild Turkey Federation. Deer and turkey populations are in great numbers for us all to enjoy and it didn’t “just happen”. Think about that as you enter the woods for another great season in Alabama and do your part contributing to, and becoming a member of, these supporters of our great hunting heritage in Alabama.

There are some folks who would like to see hunting stopped all together and their “voices are getting louder”. Don’t let your right to hunt get drowned out.

Think about that as you enjoy our great Alabama outdoors this weekend for the start of another deer season!

~postoak outdoors~

 

 

Youth Deer Hunting Weekend -This Saturday!

My grandaughter and me with a nice buck from last deer season. Youth weekend starts Saturday! Take a kid hunting! ~postoak~

In just a few days the gun deer season kicks off for the youth in our great state! The ALDCNR has designated this coming weekend as Youth deer hunting weekend across the state on all privately held properties and in accordance with the normal rules of the season. Here is more on the official  notice http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/youth-hunts/AllYouthHunts.cfm

This is an excellent opportunity to take a kid hunting and focus on the instructional aspects of deer hunting for the upcoming generation of hunters. I urge you to please take your child or youth out hunting so they can learn to appreciate the outdoors and share in your hunting adventures! I will be taking my granddaughter to shoot a doe over in west Alabama and she has already became a a great success as a hunter, taking a nice buck  (7 pointer and 8 pointer) each of the last two seasons, both at over 200 yards!  I believe I now have a hunting buddy for life and am so proud of her!

The youth weekend can provide a great time for comradery with other club members who also will be taking advantage of the event and you just might get to do some good scouting for the opening of the gun season for deer next weekend!

Another “youth- only” series of hunts is available at the Fred Stimpson WMA in Clarke County and could make a great weekend hunting trip for you and your child to enjoy hunting in the hardwood swamps near the Tombigbee River. Information for applying is located  here- http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/youth-hunts/youthdeer/ The Stimpson WMA is one of the premier WMA units in Alabama and you can create a great deer hunting memory at this special place.

Are you ready to hunt? Or if you are like me you have procrastinated to the last minute to make sure your camo is properly washed in a good scent wash detergent and properly stored in a scent prove bag to keep it fresh for that opening day. Is all your gear checked for safety and being in good working condition? are your optics cleaned and ready to use? Is your rifle sighted in? Can you actually “hit” with it through the use of practice rounds? I see folks who have a good quality rifle and scope and they just “check the sights” with a 3 shot group. This is great but, if you do not practice some on making several standing free hand shots, practing sitting and from an elevated stand like you hunt in then you are doing yourself an injustice! Buy a box of quality ammo, the same kind you plan to shoot at the actual deer and shoot a box of them in various positions and at different angles and aiming speeds to become well aquainted with your gun!

I have been guilty of not doing that and it has caused me to miss some deer or not attempt shots on some deer that I never got a second chance on! Several years ago I hunted with a friend who was a member of a very exclusive, another word for expensive, club over in Dallas County. Just before dark a great buck came out on the green field and was chasing a doe. I was hesitant due to a lack of practice and when I finally decided to take the shot, I was not able to connect on him. He was taken from that same field later that year and he scored over 160! When I saw the photo, I knew in an instant it was the buck I had seen but I could not find in the scope. That is a sad memory!

Be sure to practice, practice, prepare and plan to succeed. Like most things in life, it will make a difference in your level of success in most things, not just deer hunting!!

Until next week…

~Postoak~

 

AWF Holds Gusto Gun Dog Field Days

Participants enjoying the Gusto Gun Dog event (courtesy of AWF)

Quail hunting was a passion of my father’s for most of his hunting years. He alway kept one or two well trained bird dogs, usually a pointer but, he had a couple of good English Setters. With the Alabama Quail season starting this Saturday, November 9th, it sure made me think of some of the great days afield I enjoyed with my dad, older brother and our hunting guests as we watched the dogs work up birds and freeze in that classic point. The excitement of a covey rise and the satisfaction of a good shot made for a truly wonderful hunt. Quail hunting has become an “almost” thing of the past, but thanks to organizations like the Alabama Wildlife Federation there is still hope for resurrecting a favorite hunt of our fathers. Below is  a press release for such an event.

 

The beautiful weather welcomed over thirty individuals and dogs participating in the Gusto Gundog Field Days presented by the Alabama Wildlife Federation, October 24-26, at the Gusto estate near Hayneville, Alabama. This three day training event was designed to showcase seven basic skills “The Wildrose Way” with Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels, Oxford, MS. Customized, hands-on instruction was the primary focus of Gusto Gundog Field Days, and was geared to those interested in a wingshooting destination companion that is as compatible in the field as in the home.

“This is a first time event of this type for the Alabama Wildlife Federation,” stated Tim L. Gothard, Executive Director of AWF. “We know that a significant portion of our members are sporting dog enthusiast and this was a great way for us to host an event that was beneficial to our members and our organization.”

The training was open to all breeds at levels started to finished. Mike and his team customized the training curriculum to meet the specific developmental needs of each dog while keeping the owner’s expectations in mind. The best thing about this program is there are no other courses out there for duality – a dog that is prepared to go anywhere, any time for any type of wingshooting or outside adventure. Bill Youngstrom from Wetumpka said, “I have learned the easy way to do all the things I have been doing the hard way. This is a great event and I hope that you do it again next year.”

In addition to hands-on instruction offered during Gusto Gundog Field Days, guests received a DVD, a 265-page comprehensive book and one free membership to the Alabama Wildlife Federation. A special thanks to Wildrose Kennels, Alabama Black Belt Adventures and John Hall & Company for taking part in this one of a kind event.

Thomas Harris, owner of Gusto said, “It was a very focused event with real life hunting situations, very thorough and understandable. Truly a great program for those wanting a well mannered, productive lifelong hunting companion. Another meaningful event by Team AWF! Everyone was so enthusiastic as they departed the field days and wanted to make sure we would do again!”

Visit www.alabamawildlife.org to view some additional photos and videos from the event.