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Summarizing deer season with a single trip through the alphabet.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
A is for acorns,
an important food source for deer and one that can have a dramatic impact on hunters' success. When acorns are plentiful, deer don't need to travel. Early indications are that this fall's acorn crop might be light and that could bode well for hunters. Not only will deer likely be easier to spot because they'll be feeding more in the open, but hunters who can find producing oak trees can do especially well early in the season when the acorns start falling.
B is for bowhunting,
which has about 40,000 licensed practitioners. Last season Virginia bowhunters killed nearly 16,000 whitetails, or 7 percent of the total kill. The archery kill is almost always in the 7 to 8 percent range.
C is for crossbow,
a weapon that able-bodied hunters have been able to use for hunting during archery season for nearly a decade. Virginia sells about 25,000 crossbow licenses annually, and those hunters killed 10,596 deer (5 percent) last year.
D is for doe,
the common term for female deer. Heavy emphasis on taking does appears to be helping bring once-booming deer herds in some counties under control.
E is for epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
An illness caused by the bite of tiny midge flies, EHD can have noticeable impact on deer populations in certain areas. Last year was a bad year for EHD across much of Virginia. Early indications are that things are better this year.
F is for friends, with whom the opportunity to spend time remains a primary reason cited by hunters for their dedication to the activity.
G is for grunt call,
the single most important call a hunter can arm himself with in late October and November, when prowling bucks can sometimes be tricked into investigating the call they believe has come from an intruder.
H is for Halloween,
which can be a great night for bowhunters to get a head start on pre-rut cruising bucks. Unless you are accompanying young trick-or-treaters (an even better way to spend the evening), dress up in your best camouflage hunting costume and spend the evening in the tree stand.
I is for the Internet,
which has put at hunters' fingertips a number of excellent preparation tools, including online maps such as Google Earth, and blogs and forums on which to share information and tips. It also provides a way for hunters to check in their deer.
J is for jerky,
one of the best uses of venison. Whether made from thinly sliced strips of meat, or from ground meat squeezed out of a "jerky shooter," jerky is to hunters what gas is to a truck. Without it, the engine will sputter to a stop.
K is for kids 15 and under,
who, under supervision from properly licensed adult mentors (who may not carry a gun), get first crack at Virginia's deer on Saturday during Virginia's special youth deer hunt. Saturday's hunt is also open to holders of apprentice hunting licenses.
L is for lunch,
which most hunters will eat by about 10 a.m. when they are stationed in their blind or on a tree stand. Staples for lunches include deer jerky, Little Debbie snack cakes, deer jerky and deer jerky.
M is for misery,
which is not unusual for deer hunters to feel. Causes include frozen feet, seeing the buck of a lifetime trot by just out of range, or gas caused by eating 2 pounds of deer jerky.
N is for nature,
which has an amazing way of calling about two minutes prior to a large buck appearing near your treestand. If you have departed your stand to answer the call, your gun or bow is certain to be hanging on a hook 15 feet above your head. If the call didn't require a stand exit, the buck will see you fumbling for your weapon, and dart away laughing.
O is for orange,
the brilliantly bright blaze version of which is required to be worn by all hunters during general firearms seasons. Though blaze orange is not legally required during muzzleloader seasons, wearing it is not a bad idea any time you're in the woods with other hunters.
P is for deer pee,
thousands of gallons of which is collected at deer farms and sold in tiny, sometimes very expensive, bottles to hunters who hope the scent of the urine will attract a deer of a lifetime.
Q is for quality deer management,
a philosophy practiced by a growing number of deer hunters, either formally with groups such as the Quality Deer Management Association or informally on their own. Keeping doe numbers in check and letting bucks get some age on them can be a pretty good approach.
R is for Roanoke County,
where deer hunters can now take two deer a day. The rule change should promote more pressure on does in the county, where an earn-a-buck regulation remains in place in an effort to increase the doe kill.
S i s for safety harness.
No jokes here. Safety harnesses save lives. If yours isn't comfortable, get one that is and wear it. If you don't wear one, keep your feet on the ground.
T is for trophy obsession,
which causes some hunters to lose their way. It's not just about the antlers.
U is for Under Armour,
a mainstream sports apparel and equipment company that does not shy from hunting, but embraces it. The company's executives know that hunters are an economic force and realize that hunting is ethical activity.
V is for the vicarious fascination
some hunters have with video stars who seem to never miss and always put a tag on a wall hanger. Enjoy the shows, but keep in mind that their world is not really representative of the conditions everyday hunters face.
W is for whitetails,
by far the most sought-after big game animal in the United States.
X is for the center of the target
we strive to hit when we're sighting in our bows, crossbows and firearms. Perfection might not be attainable, but the closer you get, the better off you'll be when it's time to pull the trigger.
Y is for YouTube,
which has become a dumping ground for (mostly) terrible videos shot by the hordes of hunters now going afield with inexpensive sports cameras strapped to their heads, guns and bows.
Z is for the zingers
that fly back and forth among hunting buddies at deer camp, which is one of the best things about deer season.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us