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!