Category Archives: Hunting

Hunt the Rut

Depending on where you live, if you want to kill a big buck, the next couple of weeks or so is your best chance all season. The rut is starting in our area and bucks that are normally careful and spooky lose their minds, looking for does and putting themselves in places where they are easier to kill.

Georgia Outdoor News publishes a rut map each year based on hunter and biologist input. It shows the peak of the rut in Spalding and nearby counties to be mid-November, with November 15 being the peak. Counties not far east of us start a little earlier, with the peak on November 9.

The rut seems to have started a little early in this area, with online pictures showing big bucks taken last weekend and comments from hunters about them chasing does. And I saw scrapes a little earlier than normal on my hunting land.

When bucks start shedding the velvet on their antlers, they rub them on small trees, helping to get it off. A good sign that a buck is in your area in early October around here are saplings and small trees with bark peeled off near the ground.

The bigger the buck the higher off the ground these marks will usually be, and bigger bucks use bigger trees. They seem to favor cedar saplings, but rubs are found on pine, sweetgum and others.

When hormones start flowing in November, the bucks paw a scrape near trails and urinate on it, leaving their scent. They also rub their head and antlers on overhanging limbs leaving more scent.

When a doe’s hormones make her ready to mate, she stops at scrapes and leaves her scent. Bucks leave scrapes in lines spaced out along trails and will run them as often as they can until they locate a suitable doe. They move at all times of day and night in this quest, throwing their usual caution to the quest.

In the Georgia Outdoor News Truck Buck competition where big bucks are entered into a contest, data from them show 43 percent killed from daylight until 9:00 AM, 18 percent from 9:01 to 11:00 AM and 1.6 percent from 11:01 AM to 1:30 PM. Then it goes back up, with 2.4 percent killed from 1:31 to 3:30 PM and 34 percent from 3:31 to dark.

Part of the reason 77 percent are killed early and late in the day is that is the time most hunters are in their stands. Every year some very big bucks are killed during the middle of the day, so it is a good idea to be on your stand all day if you can.

The rut timing is based mostly on length of day with some influence from weather. “Common sense” would seem to tell you the rut would get later due to climate change, but I guess any change fits that narrative.

It is interesting to me to compare the rut map for Georgia to the one for Alabama. Again, “common sense” would tell you areas with the same length of day and temperatures would be similar, but science shows they are not.

Directly west of us in Alabama the length of day and weather are the same. But in Alabama, south of I-20 in the same area of the state we are in here in Georgia, the rut peak is late January. Even further north in Alabama the rut peak is in January, about two months later that similar areas in Georgia.

I killed my first two bucks, way back in the 1960s, while they were following does. I try to be in the woods during the rut, not to kill a big buck but because does also move more during it. It offers meat shooters better odds, too. Doe days here run from
November 4 until January 13.

This season is frustrating. I had a port put in just before gun deer season. Although I asked it to be put in on my left side, so I could shoot my 7 mm mag, it is on my right shoulder very near where I put my gun stock. I switched to this higher power, and stronger kick, gun about 20 years ago after hunting deer with a 30-30 for 30 years.

I do have an AR-15 with a good scope on it and its .223 caliber bullet is suitable for shooting deer. I will use it this year. This much lower caliber bullet, along with a lot less powder, had a very light kick. That seems contrary to “common sense” if you listen to the gun banners claim that AR-15s are big, high caliber guns that spray death. The .223 is actually just about the smallest, lowest power bullet legal for hunting in Georgia.

A .223 has just over 900-foot pounds of energy at 100 yards. Compared to my 7 mm mag, with over 2700-foot pounds of energy at the same range, that makes shot placement more important. Even my old 30-30 has about 1300-foot pounds of energy at 100 yards.

Tips on hunting the rut include: Hunting near bedding areas where does are concentrated. This puts you where the bucks are looking. Going to areas where you hear bucks chasing does. And hunting in high wind since it makes deer move more for several reasons.

Most important, stay on your stand and eat lunch. Many expert trophy hunters say little bucks move earlier and later, but the real trophy bucks wait until the does bed down in the middle of the day and are easier for the bucks to find.

Get out in the woods no mater what you goal, meat or antlers. This is the time.

Sitting In the Woods

Have you ever gone out into the woods and just sat, watched and thought? Deer hunters spend many hours doing exactly that every year, but I am afraid that is changing. Seeing pictures, and even worse, videos, posted while hunters are sitting on a deer stand makes me think they are missing one of the most important parts of hunting.

What do they miss? That little flash of movement that would reveal a huge buck if they were not staring at their phone? How about a beautiful cardinal eating matching red dogwood berries? Do they notice the golden yellow sweetgum leaf gliding through the air, pausing briefly when it hangs on an undergrowth limb, then falling to the forest floor to start the never-ending nutrient cycle over?

There is something magical if you actually observe nature. A squirrel waking up to start its morning commute to work, stretching and scratching on a limb near a hollow tree trunk, then scurrying carefully down the tree to search for breakfast. Did it bury the acorn if finds, stashing it away for today?

Do you miss the gurgle of the water over a tree trunk in the creek and think about where it has been and where it is going? How many times has it fallen on a hillside much like the one you watch and trickled into a creek? It then flows to a bigger creek following it to a river.

That river dumps into the ocean, where the water evaporates into the air. Wind currents move the clouds it forms back to a hillside, where it falls to start its timeless journey again.

The ancient white oak on the top of the hill has seen many changes. It now overlooks you sitting in a red oak a little way down the hill. Your perch grows up through the rocks on an old terrace, so the white oak watched it grow. Was it there while a dirt farmer struggled to flatten a small place for his crop, tediously moving shovels of dirt, then the rocks, to the terrace?

The rocks at the base of your tree had sat on the hill for thousands of years, slowly being exposed by eroding soil, then moved to their current position by the farmer. What has passed over time on their hillside? What will pass before gravity and erosion rolls them down the hill to the creek, where water will wear them away.

If you have hunted this land long enough, you may remember the fall day when you sat near the big white oak and killed a limit of squirrels with your .22. Or the summer day when you tried to catch tiny bream in the creek, on flies you had tied in a not so successful effort. But the bluegill still tried to eat it.

If you are old enough, you remember the days before whitetail deer here, and watched as the herd grew. The first deer you shot, with an old Marlin 30-30, was a small basket eight-point buck. You know now it was no trophy, but it still remains one of the most exciting days in your life.

That patch of privet was the hiding place for your biggest deer, a true trophy. You still don’t know how you made a killing shot, your arms were trembling from holding your gun on the spot where you knew the buck would expose itself as it moved out of the privet as it fed along the trail, eating acorns.

Your whole body was shaking from excitement, and you remember trying to order yourself to calm down. The movement of the buck ruins all those efforts, but you remember making yourself breath out, then in and squeeze, not pull, the trigger when the crosshairs lined up. And you almost jumped the 20 feet to the ground to go get a close-up look at him. He did not disappoint.

You may remember the days before 4 wheelers, too. Even though your property covers over 50 acres, you would never use one until you have a deer on the ground. But you hear their irritating whine and growl on nearby property at daylight as late hunters lazily ride to their stand, spooking the deer they would have seen if in the woods and quiet early enough.

Strangely enough, you hear their noise again an hour later, just when you expect to see deer moving back to bedding areas. At least they are scaring the deer they might have seen with a little patience. And they might spook them toward your stand.

Shots from other properties make you wonder if that trophy buck you have been patterning for weeks just went down. You hope that if he did, he was killed by a hunter that put out as much effort as you, and not by a deer shooter that made no effort other than to put out corn.

If you kill a deer, you take a minute at the kill to think about the deer and thank it for its sacrifice, so you will have meat. You have respect for your quarry and take pleasure in a trophy or just a meat doe, but you respect both for the wildness in it, and in you.

If you don’t make a kill you still rejoice in the total experience of being part of a tradition and way of life that is changing all too much.

Merry Christmas

Deer Are Laughing At Me

The deer are laughing at me. I have not been able to hunt this year, but Monday morning while sitting at my kitchen table I saw movement in the back yard. A big, fat doe, the kind I like to shoot, causally wandered across the edge of the woods, offering an easy shot. I’m sure I heard giggling.

Years ago, when we first moved to this house, I had another bad season. I had not killed a deer that year but had high hopes as the last week of season, and doe days, approached. But I got the flu a few days before they opened.

I was lying on the couch in my pajamas, feeling miserable. Then I looked out the back door and saw two does easing along the edge of the woods, just like the one Monday. I got my 30-30, eased open the door and shot one.

My plan was to shoot both but Linda’s screams from the kitchen spooked me, and the deer. It took off. I did not think to warn her and a 30-30 fired partially inside is kinda loud.

Back then there were fewer houses around here. They were so sparse I could zero my gun in my back yard. If I shoot one now, I will have to be extremely careful which way I shoot.

It was a good thing I didn’t kill two that morning. By the time I got dressed, cleaned the deer and got it into the truck I could hardly get in to drive to the processor. Two would have been one too many!

Food For Deer

I admit I am a deer shooter, not a deer hunter. For years I have not done much scouting. One big reason is the Lyme Disease I got from a tick bite about 12 years ago. Being in the woods when ticks are active in late summer and early fall does not sound like a good idea after fighting that disease for a year.

I am also lazy – the older I get the lazier I get. But I have hunted the same areas since 1982 and watched them change due to logging, but the deer movements have not changed a lot. They may make new travel routes around fresh clear cuts, but they still feed under the same big white oaks they have been using for years.

For the past 20 years I have planted winter wheat, Austrian Winter Peas and clover on a couple of food plots. But this year I got lazier and did not plant much. It is too easy to put out corn now that it is legal. Although you don’t hunt over corn, or over food plots, you just shoot deer that come to you, I hunt only for venison.

On both food plots and corn piles you are more likely to see does and yearlings during shooting hours. Big bucks that are the goal of deer hunters are too smart to come out in the open during the day, except for a few weeks in early November in our area, when they lose their minds during rut.

I have shot a few decent bucks over the years, but they did not excite me any more that shooting a doe or yearling. I think that I mainly because I shot them more by accident than effort. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I respect trophy buck hunters for the efforts they make to put themselves in the right position to kill their dream buck. But for me it is like fishing a tournament. I often know that if I want to catch big fish to win, but most likely won’t catch many and could possibly zero, I have to dedicate my day to trying to get quality bites.

Instead I typically go after keeper fish, hoping for a limit. That does not always work, either, but the odds are better to catch something to weigh in. I do luck up on decent bass sometimes, but it is just luck for me, like shooting a big buck.

When I cut my food plots recently I was happy to see the clover was still growing and doing well. I could not see it until I cut all the weeds off it. And most years some winter wheat comes back from the year before. I can tell this because I usually change areas where I plant it each year.

I was happy to see a couple of the crab apple trees I got from the Forestry Service two years ago doing well. There are no apples yet, but I hope for some in another few years. The natural persimmon trees on the edge of the field have a few fruit each year, including this one, but they never produce much.

I am real disappointed in the dozen persimmon trees that came up in the field. I have carefully cut around them and fertilized them. Last year I saw a couple of persimmons on a couple of trees, but the trees in the field are 15 to 20 feet tall so they should be old enough to be producing a lot of fruit.

I found out there are male and female persimmon trees and no way to tell them apart, other than the female trees are the only ones that produce fruit. I was afraid they were all male but seeing even one or two fruit on a tree tells me they are female.

The biggest tree had two fruit on it last year so I hoped this year would produce a lot more, but although the tree is healthy and lush, there is not a single one on it. I probably should have ordered persimmon trees from the Forestry Service to insure I had good ones, but my laziness made me just do a little work on the volunteer ones.

A few years ago, I got excited to see a tree in the corner of the field loaded with fruit. I thought it was an old crabapple tree near the old house site. But when the Forestry Service tech came to plow my field, he said it was a Bradford pear tree. Deer really don’t eat the fruit for some reason and they cause problems. When birds carry the fruit into my planted pines, the seeds start growing and the young trees put out some chemical that stunts other growth around it. I want those pines to grow!

There is a good article by Eric Bruce in this month’s Alabama Outdoor News magazine about natural food sources for deer. Eric is a true deer hunter and he goes out and finds natural food, travel routes and places to hunt big deer.

I know about a lot of the food sources he describes like Trumpet vines, honey suckle, black berries, green briar, privet, mushrooms and wild grapes. After reading this article I realized I have other natural food like ragweed, pokeweed and beggar weed I did not think about.

Other surprises were sumac and beauty berry. I saw several sumac bushes around the edge of my field, so I made sure to miss them with the mower.

Gun season opens in two weeks and many hunters, and even more shooters will be in the woods looking for food or a trophy. Which are you?

Ducks, Unlimited and Conservation

Many folks say the cardinal is the most beautiful bird in our area, but I wonder if they have ever seen a wood duck up close. A cardinal is pretty with solid red body and black mask, and its crest makes it distinctive.

But a wood duck has many colors. Its shiny green head, rusty orange breast, tan wings with blue highlights, white breast and white highlights on chest and head make it a complex riot of hues.

Bluebirds are pretty, too, with males having blue backs and rusty orange breast during mating season, but mallards rival them with shinny green heads, muddy

brown breasts and blue wing highlights.

Few people see ducks of any kind unless they live on a lake or pond. They don’t come to back yard feeders. You have to go to their habitat to see them. Fortunately, thanks to Ducks, Unlimited, there is a lot more habitat for them than in the fairly recent past.

Founded in 1937, Ducks, Unlimited is a group of like-minded hunters and other conservationists who work to insure the future of ducks. Their work preserving and increasing habitat for waterfowl no only benefits ducks, it helps all wildlife. They are truly conservationists in what they do.

On the Ducks, Unlimited web site, https://www.ducks.org/, their motto says “Filling the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.“ That goal means more ducks to shoot, but also means more birds of all kinds, including cardinals and bluebirds, due to their work.

Habitat for waterfowl includes wetlands, ponds, food for waterfowl and suitable nesting areas. Those are all good for ducks, but also good for all other wildlife. If food for waterfowl is available, it is also available for everything from songbirds to deer. And if good cover for nesting is increased it also increase places for all kinds of wildlife to live and reproduce.

If you like bald eagles and want them to increase, join Ducks, Unlimited. Anything good for ducks is good for eagles, and eagles hunt and eat ducks, just like many Ducks, Unlimited members. Ducks are food for many species of predators other then people so increasing the food supply helps them, too.

That is a big reason for the need for more duck habitat. If no hunter ever shot another duck, but habitat was not preserved and increased, waterfowl populations would decrease due to lack of habitat, and predators would take more and more of the smaller and smaller population of waterfowl.

Wetland conservation helps people, too, by improving the health of our environment. Water is stored and purified in them, they help moderate flooding and slow down soil erosion. Conserving wetlands is important to all life.

Many people do not know how money is raised for wildlife conservation in the US. In 1937 the Pittman-Robertson Act was passed by congress and signed by President Roosevelt. It charges 11 percent on all firearms and hunting supplies. All that money is earmarked for conservation and sent to the states to use for that purpose. The Dingle-Johnson Act does the same thing for fisheries with a tax on fishing supplies.

But Ducks, Unlimited raises money to supplement those funds. And Ducks, Unlimited is efficient. Many fund-raising organizations spend much of their money on administration and things other than their stated goal. Ducks, Unlimited spends only three percent on administration and 14 percent on fundraising efforts. Eighty three percent of all funds raised goes directly to conservation. That is an admirable ratio.

It might seem strange that hunters wanting to shoot ducks work so hard to protect the environment but not to anyone that hunts. Hunters know our sport depends on a good environment, and we see nature up close and personal. We know nature needs our efforts to make sure it is not destroyed and work to conserve it. Many non-hunters realize the work that is needed also join and work with Ducks, Unlimited.

Each year Ducks, Unlimited holds more than 4000 fund raising events nationwide. Most of these efforts are banquets where people have fun as well as raise money for conservation. There are many events here in Georgia each year and they are listed on the Ducks, Unlimited web site at http://www.ducks.org/events.

Since 1985 Ducks, Unlimited has worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to conserve more than 27,000 acres of wetlands here in our state. That is good for wildlife and people right here. Without Ducks, Unlimited, there would be many fewer acres conserved in Georgia.

Although 2.1 million dollars was raised here in Georgia last year, Ducks, Unlimited members and supporters supply more than money. When volunteers are needed to work on projects they give their time and equipment, with no pay, to make sure the work is done. Much of wetland conservation work is hard labor moving dirt and other materials to build small dams and water control structures. Members help with those projects.

Businesses also help by donating money and items for auctions. There are a variety of ways businesses and corporations help, through product licensing, sponsorships, comprehensive partnerships, philanthropy and directly supporting specific conservation projects.

Ducks, Unlimited also reaches out to young people with special youth memberships and events. There are more than 45,000 Greenwing members who love the outdoors and care about conservation. There are high school chapters and Ducks, Unlimited provides college scholarships.

If you are a hunter, or if you just love the outdoors and want to conserve it for the future, join Ducks, Unlimited and attend one of their events near you. You will have fun as well as insuring the future of our outdoors.

Till next time – Gone fishing!

Shooting Doves

Dove season opens at noon today. That brings back many great memories of my youth, and a very bad one after I moved to Griffin.

Daddy was the shop and agriculture teacher at Dearing High School in the early 1950s and his degree in agriculture meant he had a lot of skills useful to local farmers. We often spent Saturdays “cutting” boar shoats for them, as well as other jobs. For these services he was invited to many dove shoots.

I started going to dove shoots with him when I was about five, acting as his retriever. We seldom missed a Saturday during season. I prided myself on finding even the most difficult doves, no matter how thick the briars and brush. And I loved the camaraderie of the men at the shoot. But I longed for the day I could actually shoot at doves.

I got a single shot .410 when I was ten, but daddy made me hunt for squirrels with it, learning safety skills, for a couple of years before I could join the men on a dove field. And even then, I went only to family shoots with just a few folks on the field for a couple of years.

I was not a good shot. Darting, diving doves are much harder to hit than a squirrel on a limb. In my first shoot I was sure I had hit one, but Uncle Adron had also shot at it. He was deadly with his “Sweet 16” but he graciously let me claim it.

My best day with that .410 was on a big field with many shooters that kept the birds flying. I killed five that day and shot only a box of shells doing it. But what stands out in my mind even more from that day was trying to cross a fence to get a bird. I did not notice the top strand of barbed wire was electric. But that is another story.

Daddy had two shotguns, both 12-gauge semiautomatics. The short barreled one was for quail and the long barreled one was for doves. And we shot quail with #9 shot and doves with #8 shot. I learned to shoot both by using them for squirrels, just like the .410, but they were overkill for tree rats.

I had real good luck using it, killing my limit most shoots when I could use the long barreled 12 gauge. It throws out a lot more shot than the .410 and has more powder for a better pattern. I went to many shoots with my uncles and used it when daddy could not go.

I still have both those shotguns, I just wish I could use them more!

My bad experience was in 1972, my first fall in Griffin. I wanted to shoot doves and found a pay shoot out near Senoia. A week before the shoot I went out to pay my fee and look at the field. I should have been suspicious since it looked like a hay field, but birds were on it.

That Saturday I got in a blind on a fence row. There were not many birds, but I killed two the first hour or so. Then two men in green uniforms drove up, got out and started going to shooters on the opposite side of the field. I thought about easing into the nearby woods but was sure I was doing nothing wrong, I had my license and my gun was plugged.

As they walked up to me I saw they were federal game wardens. When asked, I gave them my license and they put it in a stack of others one of them was carrying. They then told me to come to the farmer’s house.

There they told us the field was baited and showed us photos taken from an airplane, plainly showing strips of wheat put out on the field. They informed us we would all have to go to court. After they left with our licenses the farmer assured us there was no problem, he knew the judge, and we would not be fined. He also provided cases of beer to ease our minds and calms us down.

A few weeks later I got a federal court summons and my license. It said come to court in Atlanta or pay a $75 fine. I paid it rather than go to court since I knew I was guilty. That was a lot of money back then, three times what I had paid for a day of shooting. I also heard the farmer was fined $1000!

That is the only time in my life I have ever gotten a fine for breaking game and fish laws. I am always careful to follow the law but that was a costly mistake. And I never went to another pay shoot.

Do You Hunt or Just Shoot Game Over Bait?

It is now legal to shoot deer over bait in our area, in north Georgia. This change from last season came because of pressure from people wanting to kill deer easier. In meetings around the state, a fairly high majority of those attending wanted the change. The legislature sets hunting laws but could not come to a decision, so the governor passed the decision on to the DNR.

To make shooting deer over bait legal, the DNR changed the rules, not the law. They simply shrank the Northern Zone, where baiting is still illegal, to include only some federal lands in the area, where baiting was always illegal. Almost all of Georgia is now considered the “Southern” Zone, where baiting has been legal for several years.

I very intentionally said it is legal to shoot deer, not hunt them, over bait. Drawing animals and birds to you to shoot them is not hunting. That is why we go quail hunting but to a dove shoot. You look for quail in their habitat. You draw doves to a field to shoot them.

There are good and bad things about shooting over bait. For young hunters, especially those seeking their first deer, they are much more likely to be successful over bait. That is also true of some of us older folks as well as those with other handicaps that keep us from really hunting. But it does not teach hunting skills and the pride in working to take your quarry.

Deer tend to browse while feeding, moving a lot as they seek natural food sources. Even with food plots they will walk through them, pausing to eat but not staying in the same place for very long. But a pile of corn makes them come to the exact same place every day and spent more time in a very small area.

This concentration tends to make diseases spread among the deer. And it also makes it easier to predators other than us to pastern and kill them. There are many pictures from trail cameras set up around feeders showing coyotes and bobcats hanging around feeders, waiting on an easy meal to come to them.

To me there is no difference between putting out a corn feeder to attract deer to you and planting a food plot to do the same, except for the amount of work involved. Food plots have always been legal, and they do have the benefit of providing food for deer year-round, not just during hunting season.

I try to stay legal although I do not consider myself a deer hunter. I simply want to harvest two or three deer, preferably does, each year for the freezer. I’m a meat harvester. When younger I did thrill in looking for bucks in their natural habitat, figuring out their movements and patterns, and placing a stand in exactly the right place to get a shot at a buck.

I am proud of the first buck I killed 50 years ago this fall, a small eight pointer. I went out on public land, found signs and figured out where to put my stand, all on my own. It was tougher back then with fewer deer and fewer open days to hunt. I have killed much bigger bucks since then around my food plots but there is no pride in taking them.

I found out a few years ago how effective baiting is. I have 75 acres I hunt on in Spalding County. I plant a small field with wheat, clover and winter peas each year hoping to make it easier for me to get my meat. I have also planted crab apple trees and fertilized persimmon trees. For years I was successful.

About four years ago I stopped seeing deer in my food plots. They had changed their movement patterns. I was told a neighbor withless than ten acres of land had put a corn feeder and I found it. His stand was on his side of a gulley between his land and mine, but his feeder was actually on my property.

Deer had changed their routes, going by the corn in preference to coming by my field. I found lots of signs around the corn and trails that led to it from bedding areas, then to other areas that bypassed my field. That was frustrating.

Since baiting is now legal, I will put out a couple of corn feeders. I will continue to plant food plots if for no other reason than to have food available year-round for them and keep them healthier. And I will move my feeders every few months, so the deer will not stay in one small area all the time and help spread disease. And moving them will confuse other predators, at least a little.

Baiting is not a bad thing for some animals. Wild hogs are not game animals, they are a serious problem for farmers and the environment. So, putting out bait and shooting or trapping as many of them as you can is a good thing.

Baiting bears in some states has been legal a long time, but not in north Georgia. Bait gets bears to come to where the waiting person can shoot them. In some areas it is almost impossible to actually hunt bears due to their inconsistent movement and impenetrable habitat. Still, it is bear shooting, not hunting.

Are you a hunter or a harvester? You can be both, but not on the same property unless it is huge. Putting out food for deer and shooting deer over it but hunting for a quality buck is possible, but if your bait changes the bucks habits you are not really going after him on his own natural habitat. Since bait will attract deer for an area covering at least a square mile, you really need two different places to separate the two.

What will you be this year?

Have You Ever Been On A Snipe Hunt?

If you grew up like I did in rural Georgia, you may have been invited to a snipe hunt. You had to go at night and one person, you, got to hold the sack while your “friends” drove the snipe into the sack. Of course, they left you “holding the bag” out in the dark while they went home.

There really are snipe around here. They live in wet area and probe the mud for worms with their long bills. When spooked they make a strange squawk and take off in irregular, darting side to side flight.

When young I was very curious about them and other birds. Like James J. Audubon, I wanted to examine them up close, so I shot them when I could. Over the years I shot everything from field larks and starlings to killdeers. If they were not good to eat, I killed one to examine and was satisfied.

One bird that was very elusive was a brown one that lived in a marshy area on our farm. I would see them every year but could not get very close, and when I did get into range I could not hit them with my trusty .410 when they flew.

I finally killed one. It was brown with a long, thin bill and I found out in my Encyclopedia Britannica, my google back then, that it was a snipe. I discovered they were related to woodcock, hard to shoot as I knew from experience, and good to eat. But that was the only one I ever killed.

Tomorrow is the last day of woodcock season in Georgia. Woodcock are popular upland game birds further north but here they are mostly limited to the north Georgia mountains. Some folks do hunt them in Georgia and they are good to eat. I think woodcock and snipe are considered the same for the season since they are closely related. And you need a shotgun and dog, not a sack, to get them!

Deer Hunters

From three weeks ago:

Deer hunters statewide are buzzing. Some have been hunting with bows for a few weeks now and others will hit the woods with muzzleloaders in a couple of weeks, but the big event is in three weeks. Gun season opens statewide on October 21.

Some hunters are prepared for gun season. They have zeroed in their guns, checked their stands for safety and placed them in key areas they have carefully scouted. Others will wander into the woods opening day totally unprepared, with guns that are not accurate and stands they may fail and cause injury or death.

The worst of the unprepared will simply drive dirt roads until they find woods without “posted” signs on them and look for deer. These folks are breaking the law since they do not have permission to hunt on private land. It does not matter if the land is posted, the law requires you to have permission from the land owner to hunt.

Some people have put out corn or other bait and will sit near it opening day. That is legal in south Georgia but those in north Georgia, including this area, risk a hefty fine if caught. It seems unfair that half the state can do something legally that the other half can not, but that is the law.

If you are trying to kill a deer over bait, or in my opinion even over a food plot legally planted to attract deer, you are not hunting. You may harvest a deer but it is more like farming than hunting.

I have no problem with killing deer in food plots, I do it. But I do not consider what I do hunting. I am interested in harvesting venison to eat so I do what the law allows to help, but hunting involves much more effort to locate a deer in natural habitat, figure out the way it moves during the day and set up to shoot them.

I respect hunters that put out the effort to kill a trophy buck. It takes a lot of work to truly hunt a wise trophy buck and kill him. But it is not for everyone. Choose what you want to do, harvest or hunt, and act within the law to accomplish your goals.

Planting Food Crops for Deer

The rains came just in time. About three weeks ago the weather guessers said it would rain several days in row. I knew the soil in my food plot still had good moisture a couple of inches down from the rains from the hurricane in early September. A little more rain would make wheat sprout and give it a good start, so I sowed wheat.

I should have known better. There was not a drop of rain for over two weeks. The wheat sprouted and got about three inches high, but started to die from the hot sun and lack of rain.

Just before the last hurricane rains hit, I put out winter peas, clover and turnips just as it started sprinkling. The surviving wheat and the new seeds responded to the new moisture and should have a good chance of growing well this fall, providing an attraction so I can harvest my venison for the next year.

A week later, everything looks good – wheat about five inches high, peas three inches high and good leaves on turnips. Clover has sprouted and growing thick.