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.