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e_moon60

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Deer Season [Nov. 7th, 2010|05:52 pm]
e_moon60
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This weekend was the opening of deer season for our county.   Generations of deer have responded to hunting pressure by increased sensitivity to the exact day deer season starts.   Up until then, deer wander around in plain view....they're out and about day and night, though mostly at night, and they come right into yards (and streets.)  

But on opening day, there's not a deer to be seen.  Sometime in the night before, they steal away softly and come the dawn...some tracks, but no deer.

We have a lot of deer in Central Texas, enough deer to be a road hazard (first day of hunting they understand--cars whizzing along they don't),  destroyers of gardens both flowery and edible, habitat degraders.   Humans are their only effective predator, in the absence of wolves and mountain lions, which no one seems to want in the increasingly inhabited  region.  And as a wildlife manager (small hat, few cattle) I know we need to cut down the deer herd that uses our place as part of its range.   So I do what most landowners do--I authorize a (very small number of) hunters to hunt on our place.  

And then I listen for the sound of a deer rifle.   There are other hunted properties around ours (north and west in particular--the west neighbor built a new deer stand right at the fenceline this fall) so there are more than one possibilities.  It's  necessary to listen to the distance and direction of the sound.  It's also necessary not to go out on the place at the times hunters are most likely to be out, and antsy to get a deer--like the first two-three weekends of hunting season, and early morning/late afternoon/evening during the week.  (It finally gets cool enough to enjoy a long walk on the land, and I have to worry about being shot...grump.  "My" hunters are highly safety conscious, but the same cannot be said about all hunters--too many just do not get how far their rounds can/will travel if they miss the deer.)  

Last year it was late second-week or early third-week of hunting when my "main" hunter (lives nearby, hunts regularly until he's got his deer)  finally got one.   

But just a bit ago (still legal light) I heard a shot that might have been his, and I hope it was. 



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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dragonmyst
2010-11-08 12:19 am (UTC)
My grandfather owns 10 acres in NE Oklahoma. He does not allow hunting on his property. The deer know this and every hunting season they like to congregate (thickly I might add) on his property to get away from hunters. It is highly amusing.

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[User Picture]From: dragonmyst
2010-11-08 01:36 am (UTC)
If they have, he hasn't mentioned it to me. But then I am not particularly close to that grandfather, I haven't actually talked to him in a while.

According to my dad the deer population has been decreasing in their area (he lives on the property also) over the past few years.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 04:32 am (UTC)
10 acres, no matter what shape, really isn't big enough, IMO, unless you've got an extremely careful hunter. It's just too easy for a stray round to go past the property line with lethal velocity still on it.

So I applaud your grandfather's choice. I've walked out with both our hunters, shown them maps of exactly where the lines are, told them what's out of sight (but in range) in every direction. We discuss where they want to set up, what the considerations are there, etc. They're both very experienced, competent, and careful.
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[User Picture]From: kengr
2010-11-08 01:51 am (UTC)
too many just do not get how far their rounds can/will travel if they miss the deer

Which is why even though I wouldn't need a license because they are classed as varmints, I won't hunt the non-native squirrels.

Too few shots that'd have anything resembling a backstop.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 04:35 am (UTC)
We have an overabundance of squirrels, too (native, though) and my great-grandfather "Daddy Dave" was a noted squirrel hunter back when you could shoot up in a tree in the pecan bottoms and not worry about where the round would come down if the bushy-tailed rats jumped at the wrong moment. And that's why I don't hunt squirrels either. Tempting as it is sometimes...
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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2010-11-08 11:41 am (UTC)
We once had a neighbor who would shoot at squirrels in his back yard with a BB gun. I don't recall hearing whether he ever actually killed one.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 02:20 pm (UTC)
We had a neighbor who used to shoot at them with a shotgun. Illegal, but tolerated in this small town.
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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2010-11-08 02:07 am (UTC)

But on opening day, there's not a deer to be seen.

Personally, I suspect the wild turkeys read the signs to the deer.

I heard from one of our Mississippi cousins earlier today; he bowhunts and he's already got his first deer of the season. Going to contribute it to my mother-in-law's larder. We'll be in MS this coming weekend, finishing the clearing-out of her freezer to take it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 04:58 am (UTC)

Re: But on opening day, there's not a deer to be seen.

Wild turkeys, the alarm system of the wild. Yes. I once managed to get within about 15 yards of a wild turkey roost (I wasn't carrying a weapon.) It was pure accident: I didn't know it was there. So when they exploded out of cover, all that flapping and gobbling, I nearly fell over. I think I was 14 or so, on a ranch my mother's boss owned.

Bowhunters here get an early season and a late season--is that true in Mississippi?
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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2010-11-08 11:08 am (UTC)

Re: But on opening day, there's not a deer to be seen.

I know in both Mississippi and Arkansas [where I live] the bow-hunters get an early season; I don't really know about a late season in either place.

I'm trying to remember which LJ-friend recently reported looking out her back window and seeing a wild turkey walking down the alley. I think it may have been rowangolightly.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 02:26 pm (UTC)

Re: But on opening day, there's not a deer to be seen.

We're losing the wild turkeys in the area due to habitat loss. Had one flock that used our place at times, but the adjoining wooded areas that were its main range have mostly been cleared for ugly little "ranchettes." Many with loose dogs.
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[User Picture]From: judifilksign
2010-11-08 02:19 am (UTC)
There are always illegal hunters in the park adjacent to our property. Deer season, I must always keep my children inside. Late afternoon is always the worst, although I have heard shots getting ready for work at dawn. My autistic daughter gets pretty upset by this restriction.

We had to repair our roof a couple of years ago because of bullet holes in it. They came out with little sticks to determine where the shots had come from --the park, in an illegal area.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 04:38 am (UTC)
Game wardens are usually very interested in catching poachers, esp. in parks and esp. if their shooting endangers people (as that clearly does.) I'm still furious with the National Rifle Association for their attitude that it's always the victim's fault if someone is shot during hunting season...esp. their statement years ago on that woman killed hanging out laundry in her own back yard. "Well, she should have known it was hunting season..." No, the NRA should blast bad hunters as the bad examples they are. My opinion.
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[User Picture]From: greensilk
2010-11-08 01:46 pm (UTC)
And a very good one.
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[User Picture]From: judifilksign
2010-11-08 09:18 pm (UTC)
Each time I have called, the Park Rangers have been over *very* quickly to get my report to zero in on park hunting.

They're really good about calling back or reporting in what they've found, too. One year, after I reported multiple shots, and I reported where I thought I'd heard them, they zeroed in on the area, and found the place where the hunters brought down two deer and trucked them out.

Another year, they caught a hunter who had *started* his hunt on private property, but the wounded deer ran into the park. The hunter followed the deer and finished it off within park boundaries, and they caught him. (I'm not sure what happened to him, whether that was "responsible" hunting to follow up on a wounded animal, or if they considered it illegal anyway, so sad, too bad.)

And as I said, when I reported the roof, they sent forensic guys out with these sticks that they put in the holes to determine trajectory.
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[User Picture]From: amm_me
2010-11-08 03:35 am (UTC)
I have come to appreciate the value of hunting, to the ecological communities from which we have eliminated most other large predators, and also to those thoughtful hunters who understand their place in the cycle of life and death. (Michael Pollan's comments on hunting in _The Omnivore's Dilemma_ are quite worth reading, in regard to the latter point.)

It took me a long time to come to this appreciation. My pacifist parents never owned guns. And my 14-year-old cousin was killed in dove season (I guess, though it might just as well have been out of season, come to think of it) as he walked across his father's pasture. He came up over a little rise, and a trespassing clueless dove-hunter saw his grey cap and took it for a mourning dove. I was maybe eight, and the incident defined hunters for me for a long time.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 04:51 am (UTC)
OMG...that's awful. No wonder you had (and probably still have) negative feelings about hunters.

I hope they caught that poacher and put him away for a good long time, though they probably didn't. It's that kind of person who defines "hunter" for a lot of people and ruins the reputation of both hunters and gun owners. I was lucky. I grew up in an area where gun safety and hunting were closely related...being careless with firearms was Just Not Done, Ever...and I suspect that's because so many of the adults were WWII vets. There were firearms in our house (that I did not dare to touch without permission) and like many kids then I was introduced to shooting in the company of responsible adults. (Dick Cheney "accidentally" shooting his friend in the face on a bird hunt? He would not have gotten away with that around the adults I knew as a kid, Vice-President or no.)

Hunting is a valuable management tool for maintaining a healthy ecosystem in rural areas, but the abuses of careless hunters and poachers have raised justifiable objections to it. One could wish for the most powerful of pro-hunting organizations to weigh in on the side of strict enforcement of hunting laws and quit defending idjits, but so far they haven't. Oh, they sponsor some gun safety programs...but let someone get shot by a careless hunter and they go crazy defending the hunter.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-11-17 04:10 pm (UTC)

Hunters

You've caught my interest Elizabeth, if there is an actual cite of an NRA position officially defending a hunter that was as criminally careless as you've described I'd feel obligated to cancel my Life Member status with that Organization.
I'm a shooter, hunter, and outdoorsman, and live in a place where dog/wolf hybrids planted by the FWS run elk herds past my property...
In Montana the law REQUIRES you to know what's between you and your target and KNOW what's beyond it as well BEFORE taking the shot...

I can't imagine it being any other way!

BTW, Thank you for your service! (I'm USAF ret.)
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[User Picture]From: masgramondou
2010-11-08 07:58 am (UTC)
It's been hunting time in France for a month or so now. This means we have to radically rethink where we can do our weekend runs/hikes and sometimes, even when we think we've chosen a place guaranteed to be hunter-free we discover them. As we did on Saturday. Mutter Mutter. Why hunt deer on almost bare mountain tops when there are pigs a plenty in the woods?

Mind you they are needed to stop the wild boar population growing too much. And I suppose the deer population takes grass that the sheep and goats would like to eat.

Of course it's also mushroom hunting season so as well as armed hunters we have individuals, couples and small groups traipsing around the forest rooting for fungi. It always amazes me that so few mushroom hunters get mistaken for boar.
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[User Picture]From: mayakda
2010-11-08 02:08 pm (UTC)
That's fascinating, that deer know when hunting season starts.

We see a lot of "POSTED: No Hunting signs" on trees and such arond -- I don't know if that means there are a lot of poachers or not.

I looked up the deer season in our area. Archery does go early & late -- Antlerless Sept. 18-Oct. 1 and Nov. 15-27 and either (antlered/antlerless) Oct. 2-Nov. 13 and Dec. 27-Jan. 29. That's longer than the state-wide season.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-11-08 02:24 pm (UTC)
Hard to know about number of poachers, but they do exist everywhere. We've had poachers on the back side of our place (when you find fresh shell casings, that's pretty good evidence.)

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[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2010-11-08 04:12 pm (UTC)
My father sold his farm shortly before he died this year. Thus I no longer have a place to hunt. When we drove out to Wurstfest this year I saw 5 deer carcasses on the side of the freeway. Not even back roads - IH10. Wife even noted it, and she doesn't hunt. Figures that the year that there's a huge crop, I'm not hunting.

Rounds missing and going a long ways? Wow, I've never hunted in the hill country, but down by Houston a bullet can't go more than 100 feet before hitting something. Our brush is so thick this moment that you can't even see 100 feet.
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[User Picture]From: ruthcatrin
2010-11-10 04:48 am (UTC)
My parents live 20 min north of Boston MA, their property (all 1/4 acre) backs onto several acres of convservation wetlands, not a huge section mind, but several acres (I'm guessing 10, maybe less). The last few years my mother has reported a growing population of wild turkeys, this summer she spotted a female with at least 6 well grown "chicks" several of which had growing beards.

My property backs onto land that IS legal to hunt on, and during deer and turkey seasons we make a point of wearing blaze orange vests for doing anything near the back line of the property, so far no actual incidents or sign of wild shots at the house, but better safe than sorry!
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