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October 09, 2013

Deer-Hunting Relativity

By Dave Hurteau

Let me put my home-area deer hunting in a nutshell for you: Last night, from a climbing stand just off a hidden greenfield, I watched a group of deer filter into the freshly mowed meadow to nibble on upstart forbs. Among them was a bachelor group of bucks that perfectly captured the state of deer hunting on many properties around here: two spikes, a 3-pointer, and a forkhorn. And if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, I’ll add that the forkhorn was (a) the only buck there that wasn’t led to the field by its mother, and (b) clearly the area’s dominant male, running other deer off his little patch of greenery and instigating sparring matches with the smaller guys.

But—and this is important—I’m not complaining. Not much anyway. Sure, it would be nice to see more bucks with better racks, and an older age-structure would likely make for a more exciting rut. If the hunters around here could agree to press the state agency for regulations to protect yearling bucks, they’d have my support.

But in the meantime, especially on farms like this one where the sweet, older couple who owns the place let’s everybody and his brother on, it just is what it is. And it’s just fine.

Back out in the field, the little bucks, and especially their mothers, are on red-alert. Not because they smell me; I’ve got the wind. Or because they see me; I’m tucked back and well hidden. They are on red-alert because after generations of being intensely hunted, these whitetail are hard-wired to be utterly neurotic. They take a nibble, then snap their heads up and stare for 5, even 10 minutes. One of them blows an alarm every now and then, just on principle. Their tails are stuck at ¾-mast. I’ve hunted areas where bucks three or four years older than these—and 13 or 14 times their B&C score—act dumb as sheep by comparison.

So these little deer provide a real challenge for a bowhunter, and their meat tastes just a good, if not better. All that’s missing is the big rack, which would be nice but is really not that big a deal. Like my wife and I told ourselves years ago when I quit my regular job to be a freelance writer: We can live very happily on very little—as long as we don’t get caught up in what we don’t have.

Comments (18)

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from vasportsman wrote 27 weeks 1 hour ago

Great article Dave, amen

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Good stuff, Dave. Good luck this season!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

+1

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from natureonthefly wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

A refreshing perspective, not one often heard in this type of magazine. I really can appreciate this.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

You hit the nail on the head, Dave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from T. Edward Nickens wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Right on, brother Hurteau. Head and heart in a good place.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

For three years now,I and four others have had rights to hunt several hundred acres of ag land and river corridor. We let small bucks go because the farmer wants does culled and because its the right thing to do.
Still, all we mostly see are 1.5 year old bucks. However, this year 2.5 year olds are starting to show up in better numbers.
I am foursquare behind restricting the hunting of young bucks. Try selling that to the local guys around here though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nehunter92 wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Hunting up in the mountains again are we ?(chuckle). Good article man. Giant racked deer may be a nice end result, but it's not the end result that counts, it's the journey to it that counts.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

The other evening I had a flock of 20+ turkeys strung out from a dry creek back up the hill to the south. They were soon to be headed up the north slope, leading to the green field I had mowed over Labor Day weekend with my lawn mower. In the field were 5 does and three young of the year, all within thirty yards of where I sat. What could possibly go wrong as I was savoring the gravey from next Sunday's feast? Well, 1) one of the button bucks decided to check me out, coming within six feet of stepping on me, 2) Mama stomped her foor in disapproval, 3) the group meandered to the nearby fence, crawled under in their usual low spot, and started feeding in the other field, and, 4) the turkeys must have thought that the deer found a better restaurant so they went west down the dry creek and soon were joining the cervids in an evening repast. I was left to watch them until the turkeys flew up to roost and the deer wandered off. Disappointing? Not on your life.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

By the way Dave, how did the elk hunt go?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mkorpal wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Great perspective, Dave. This is what more articles and hunting shows need to be about!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2804Penn wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Your the man Hurteau, your writing has give F&S a blast of fresh air. (Along w/ Mr. Nickens and Heavey)

Keep witten the good stuff.

Down here in Northern Pa, we are in a transition from where your at now to ?

I can remember when a good forkhorn was something to be proud of (still is in my book). Now, we see less deer, but you do see that 20" 8-pt once or twice a year that you never saw 15 yrs ago.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2804Penn wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Your the man Hurteau, your writing has give F&S a blast of fresh air. (Along w/ Mr. Nickens and Heavey)

Keep witten the good stuff.

Down here in Northern Pa, we are in a transition from where your at now to ?

I can remember when a good forkhorn was something to be proud of (still is in my book). Now, we see less deer, but you do see that 20" 8-pt once or twice a year that you never saw 15 yrs ago.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

I'd rather have the does! They're easier to clean and antlers don't even make good soup!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 26 weeks 4 days ago

FirstBubba, right on.

Perhaps there should be a Quality Deer Management Program to grow bigger does, no?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johntalbott wrote 26 weeks 2 days ago

What a great article! I hunted a piece of public land really hard last year, I'm talking almost 40 hunts. I saw a total of 3 deer. One decent buck running, a doe at 65 yards during bow season, and a spike towards the end of the season. This public land is really pressured- most people don't even kill a deer their first 2-3 years hunting it. I shot that spike. After all of the work and determination, that the deer I'm proudest of. A lot of non-hunters shared in the meat too, and enjoyed it. Its not about the size of the rack, its about the quality and challenge of the hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wwdeer wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Watching some celebrity hunter on television who sees a thousand inches of antler every time he gets in the stand on his 5000 acre private deer farm in Iowa before he finally harvests some buck which he named 2 years ago doesn't seem much like "Hunting" to me. Give me a wild deer on National Forest land. That's a trophy.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from poetwild wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Totally agree with the sentiments of the challenging hunts on public forest in the mountains. It's the setting, the adventure and degree of difficulty that makes for a memorable hunt. The pursuit is what matters.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from vasportsman wrote 27 weeks 1 hour ago

Great article Dave, amen

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Good stuff, Dave. Good luck this season!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

+1

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from natureonthefly wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

A refreshing perspective, not one often heard in this type of magazine. I really can appreciate this.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

You hit the nail on the head, Dave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from T. Edward Nickens wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Right on, brother Hurteau. Head and heart in a good place.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from nehunter92 wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Hunting up in the mountains again are we ?(chuckle). Good article man. Giant racked deer may be a nice end result, but it's not the end result that counts, it's the journey to it that counts.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2804Penn wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Your the man Hurteau, your writing has give F&S a blast of fresh air. (Along w/ Mr. Nickens and Heavey)

Keep witten the good stuff.

Down here in Northern Pa, we are in a transition from where your at now to ?

I can remember when a good forkhorn was something to be proud of (still is in my book). Now, we see less deer, but you do see that 20" 8-pt once or twice a year that you never saw 15 yrs ago.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

I'd rather have the does! They're easier to clean and antlers don't even make good soup!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from johntalbott wrote 26 weeks 2 days ago

What a great article! I hunted a piece of public land really hard last year, I'm talking almost 40 hunts. I saw a total of 3 deer. One decent buck running, a doe at 65 yards during bow season, and a spike towards the end of the season. This public land is really pressured- most people don't even kill a deer their first 2-3 years hunting it. I shot that spike. After all of the work and determination, that the deer I'm proudest of. A lot of non-hunters shared in the meat too, and enjoyed it. Its not about the size of the rack, its about the quality and challenge of the hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wwdeer wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Watching some celebrity hunter on television who sees a thousand inches of antler every time he gets in the stand on his 5000 acre private deer farm in Iowa before he finally harvests some buck which he named 2 years ago doesn't seem much like "Hunting" to me. Give me a wild deer on National Forest land. That's a trophy.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

For three years now,I and four others have had rights to hunt several hundred acres of ag land and river corridor. We let small bucks go because the farmer wants does culled and because its the right thing to do.
Still, all we mostly see are 1.5 year old bucks. However, this year 2.5 year olds are starting to show up in better numbers.
I am foursquare behind restricting the hunting of young bucks. Try selling that to the local guys around here though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

The other evening I had a flock of 20+ turkeys strung out from a dry creek back up the hill to the south. They were soon to be headed up the north slope, leading to the green field I had mowed over Labor Day weekend with my lawn mower. In the field were 5 does and three young of the year, all within thirty yards of where I sat. What could possibly go wrong as I was savoring the gravey from next Sunday's feast? Well, 1) one of the button bucks decided to check me out, coming within six feet of stepping on me, 2) Mama stomped her foor in disapproval, 3) the group meandered to the nearby fence, crawled under in their usual low spot, and started feeding in the other field, and, 4) the turkeys must have thought that the deer found a better restaurant so they went west down the dry creek and soon were joining the cervids in an evening repast. I was left to watch them until the turkeys flew up to roost and the deer wandered off. Disappointing? Not on your life.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

By the way Dave, how did the elk hunt go?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mkorpal wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Great perspective, Dave. This is what more articles and hunting shows need to be about!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2804Penn wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Your the man Hurteau, your writing has give F&S a blast of fresh air. (Along w/ Mr. Nickens and Heavey)

Keep witten the good stuff.

Down here in Northern Pa, we are in a transition from where your at now to ?

I can remember when a good forkhorn was something to be proud of (still is in my book). Now, we see less deer, but you do see that 20" 8-pt once or twice a year that you never saw 15 yrs ago.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 26 weeks 4 days ago

FirstBubba, right on.

Perhaps there should be a Quality Deer Management Program to grow bigger does, no?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from poetwild wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Totally agree with the sentiments of the challenging hunts on public forest in the mountains. It's the setting, the adventure and degree of difficulty that makes for a memorable hunt. The pursuit is what matters.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment