Sunday, December 2, 2007

Deerless

Hello all,

It has been a rough season since Muzzleloader season opened. The food sources have changed from standing corn to brouse and winter wheat. The later of which are strictly at night. I have heard much activity right before dark but no brave deer to step out in the open for a shot.

Tennessee is a state that doesn't allow baiting, it is illegal to leave a stand or blind in the woods and while you can hunt over a food plot it is not advisable on public land. Everybody and their brother will already be there or worse drive their trucks right into the field, park there and set up right beside you. All the while, wearing their everyday Carhartt and blue jeans no doubt smelling of the booze from the night before.

I have not been able to successfully stalk to the next ridge over or the ridge after that. I suppose my size 12 boots cover just too much area and I tend to break dried branches hidden under fallen leaves. I will usually wait 30 seconds to a minute between step with no joy. I am very careful of the wind yet in this country it tends to be variable. I choose the predominant wind and hope for the best.

I have only seen one deer during the gun season: the deer was grazing and took flight as I summited a small hill. I instantly shouldered the Ruger M77 Hawkeye, .308 the crosshairs found the appropriate spot for a Texas Heart Shot and I watched the spot for 3 seconds or so until the deer disappeared into cover. I decided during that time not to take that shot and committed to letting the deer go if he didn't offer something better.

I have been guilty of taking that same shot during my hunting career one time. I recovered the deer but not without a follow up shot. I think that if it is the only shot that is available and it has been a rough year it is understandable... it will slow the deer down and most likely you will recover the deer. However, you will likely waste some of the meat which is why I choose not to take the shot.

Some may argue against a risky shot like this stating that it isn't humane. The counter view to this is that shooting a deer hurts no matter where you shoot them. If they don't puddle up instantly on the first shot you have caused some painful trauma. Taking a shot that slows a deer down and gives a hunter some much needed meat may be alright if not glorious. All hunters need a line that is drawn in the sand that says, I won't go past here. That is going to be different for each hunter. It should be common among all hunters that we are sure of your target and beyond, but as far as the game we seek if these safety requirements are met the deer is fair game being harvested in a legal yet possibly unethical way.

Ethics do vary from one hunter to the other. Some hunting seasons provide us with lots of opportunities to take deer. We pass on smaller deer and wait for the big ones. We feel somewhat like we are the ethical police and point out what everyone else is doing that is borderline unethical. We tend to puff ourselves up and get on our soapbox. Yet if we face a couple of bad seasons in a new area where we don't see anything at all... our ethical lines may get a little fuzzy. We may start to rationalize: after all it isn't illegal.

Much of our Christian lives are the same. When things are well we like to think of ourselves as the go to person on all things religious, when they turn sour we start to distance ourselves from other Christians and our efforts turn to relief of our sorrow or grief and all of a sudden we see that we are after all sinners and that instead of us being the go to person we are just the same as all those we thumb our noses at and label as a weak Christian or worse a sinner unlike us.

God's Grace to all,
Sean

1 comment:

The Oklahoma Outdoorsman said...

Hi Sean,
Looking over your posts it sounds like you hunting areas are getting a little too much action. I have never hunted in TN before, but maybe it's time to find some land with less traffic.

Try this next spring. Take a weekend drive with your family out into the country. Look for some farm or ranch land areas that might make for some nice hunting opportunities. If you see someone, stop and have a nice chat with them about how beautiful that part of the country is.

If they are working, say on a fence or something, offer to give them a hand.

NEVER mention hunting unless they bring it up first.

The object of these trips is to make friends. You want to make friends with people who own some land with hunting opportunities.

Even if you never get to hunt on these properties, you will not only make some great friendships, but you will start a network with people who may have some private land that you can hunt on.

Try this and I'll guarantee that next year you'll be posting about the how you are going to be processing your harvest instead of how you don't see many deer anymore.

The Oklahoma Outdoorsman