Category Archives: Hunting

Hunting vs Shooting

From 2018   

It is now legal to shoot deer over bait in our area.  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 pattern 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 with less 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?

Till next time – Gone fishing!

Hunting Memories – Good and Bad

I have lots of great hunting memories, some fun, some scary and many just happy.

Sometimes I shot odd things while hunting. One year Harold and I were easing along Dearing Branch headed to some oaks to set up for squirrels. Something ahead of us on a low limb caught our attention.  It was big and brown and since both of us had .410s, so we planned to shoot it together.

Somehow I misunderstood Harold when he said shoot, and I did, alone. But the great horned owl fell. I have no idea why it was active during the day; it should have been roosted high in a big tree and hidden from us. It was huge, much bigger than I ever imagined. It is the only owl I ever shot and somewhat regret killing it, but that was 60 years ago!

The first year Linda and I were married she taught school while I finished my senior year at UGA.  Money was tight and we ate anything I could kill, just like my family did growing up.  Squirrels and rabbits were the main meat de jour.

One afternoon I saw a ball of fur up in a bare oak tree. If the leaves had been on the trees I would never have seen it. But with my scope I could tell it was a big raccoon.

I shot it, the first one I ever killed, and took it back to our trailer in town and cleaned it.  I contacted the cook at my fraternity house and he told me to boil it for three hours then cover it with BBQ sauce and bake it. 

I thought it was good but Linda not so much.  Tasted like BBQ chicken thighs to me!

Years later I shot a beaver on my pond and just had to cook it.  A Google search turned up a recipe for Mississippi Baked Beaver, a legitimate recipe.  It involved boiling, sautéing and then braising it.  It was the reddest meat I have ever seen, and the beaver was almost impossible to skin. I had to cut every inch of hide between meat and skin, there was no stripping it off.

Again, I thought it tasted pretty good but Linda did not like it. It was not delicious enough for me to clean another one, though.

A few years ago on-line I told the tale of shooting a killdeer (we always called them killdees) because ai wanted to see exactly what it looked like.  They were common in our field but very spooky and I could never get near them.  A few times shooting doves one would fly near my blind, but I definitely did not want to explain to the others on the field that I knew it was a kildeer not a dove if I took a shot.

I did sneak up on one and hit it with my .22, finally getting a good look at its brown and white feathers with golden highlights. It was very pretty and I never wanted to shoot another one.

When I told this on-line, a troll in the group threatened to sent the federal wildlife folks to arrest me since killdeers are federally protected birds. I jerked the jerk around a little on-line – everyone in the group made fun of him he was so out of it – and he got madder and madder, making all kinds of threats.

When I pointed out I had said up-front I had shot the bird when I was 12 years old and that was in 1962, long before the law protecting them went into effect in 1976, he shut up and disappeared from the group for as few days.

I did not cook the killdeer but I did cook many other birds I shot as a kid.  They all tasted just like the doves we shot.  Robins, bluejays, sparrows and blackbirds all tasted about the same roasted over an open fire in the woods or in my rock fort.  And all were very tough, from my method of cooking or their age.

The only two birds I would not shoot were cardinals and bluebirds. They were off-limits, just too pretty to shoot.  But stalking all others and getting close enough to kill them with my BB gun or .22 helped me learn a lot about hunting and shooting that was useful later in life.

Hunting Quail and Rabbits Growing Up Wild In Georgia

Way back when I was a kid there were almost no deer in Georgia.  Our hunting was for small game like squirrels and rabbits and doves and quail.  My dad didn’t like fishing but he loved shooting doves and following out pointers looking for quail.

    There were a good many old farms near our house and the few planted fields and old abandoned ones had thick hedgerows and fence lines grown up with plumb bushes and briars. They were ideal for quail and our two dogs were good at finding coveys of quail living there.

    One Christmas my best present was a set of Duckback hunting clothes.  The thick jacket and pants allowed me to wade through briar patches without getting scratched.  And hunting quail consisted of a lot of wading through briars!

    My proudest day quail hunting was by myself. 
I was in high school and one afternoon after school
I wanted to go quail hunting but daddy could not go.
He let me go get the dogs and take them out by myself for the first time.

    Even better he let me take his 12-gauge bird gun, a short barrel semiautomatic hump-back Remington loaded with #9 shot. That gun no longer hunts quail, it sits by my bed loaded with #1 buckshot.  It is an ideal home protection device.

    The afternoon I went out alone I managed to find five coveys of quail, a very good day, especially since I only hunted about three hours.  I killed one bird from each covey on the flush. Although I tried to find singles from the scattered covey I just did not have the skill, even with the dogs.

    Daddy seemed real surprised but proud when I got home with the birds. We had them for dinner then next night.

    Quail season opened yesterday, as did rabbit season. But the old farms are gone and modern farms do not have hedgerows and good quail cover.  And coyotes, foxes and fire ants have taken their toll on Georgia’s state game bird. Hunting them is extremely difficult now, even if you have a lot of land and try to manage it for quail.

    Nowadays about the only quail hunting here is on plantations where you pay to go out with a guide and dogs to find planted birds.  I won a hunt on one of them a few years ago and was extremely disappointed. 
I took daddy’s old gun, again loaded with #9 shot, and killed my 12-bird limit quickly.  I did not miss a single shot, amazing since I had not shot at them in more than 30 years.

    The pen raised birds were put out in pairs and the guide knew where they were. It was fun watching the dogs work, but the quail were slow when they flushed, so slow one of the dogs managed to grab one as it took off, snatching it from the air. That would not happen with wild birds.  I was so disappointed I have no desire to do that again.

Learning Hunting Skills While Hunting Small Game Like Rabbits and Squirrels

I hope everyone had a good deer season and got to shoot what they wanted, either a trophy for the wall or a freezer full of meat.  Or both!! But now that it is over, it is time to turn to small game.  Many of us older folks grew up hunting squirrels, rabbits and game birds, and there is about six weeks left to hunt them.

    Learning to hunt squirrels and rabbits is great training for hunting big game.  You learn to read signs, be patient, acquire shooting skills and identify food sources that will help when hunting deer, turkey or anything else.

    This time of year is both a challenge and a blessing.  With leaves off the trees, you can spot a tree rat a long way off as it scurries from limb to limb. But they can see you just as far away and hide before you get near. And if you jump a rabbit you can get a decent shot.

    There is no food in the trees, either.  So you won’t be able to sneak up on a trembling limb where a squirrel is busy cutting pine cones or acorns and not paying enough attention for predators like you.  When they are feeding in the trees you can often get in close for an easy shot. Not with bare trees!

    Squirrels feed on the ground this time of year. When they see movement, they will run up a tree to a hidey hole and you may never see them again.  But sometimes they just flatten against the tree on the opposite side, so you can throw a stick to that side and make them move around for a shot.

    When food sources like oak trees dropping acorns are available, you can set up near one and let the squirrels come to you.  Not gonna happen after Christmas.  Now you have to still hunt, easing through the woods alert to seeing or hearing a squirrel before is hears or sees you.

    That kind of hunting will help you still hunt for deer but multiply the squirrels ability to spot you before you spot them by about a thousand times for a deer.  But it is fun, keeps you warmer than sitting still, and can be very productive.

    My good friend AT had a pack of rabbit beagles, and we ran rabbits almost every Saturday after deer season when I was in high school. Deer season was limited to the month of November and one week at Christmas back then, so we stated letting the dogs out in early December.

    I loved listening to the dogs run and figuring out where the bunny would circle back ahead of them so I could be in position for a shot.  Rabbit hunting with dogs is easy compared to without them.

    I killed my first rabbit while squirrel hunting with my .410. As I eased along a field line looking for activity in the trees, I jumped a cottontail and hit it as it bounced away.  I think daddy and mama were as proud as I was that day!

    Once after a light snow AT didn’t want to let his dogs out, so we hunted without them.  We went to a farm where the owner had cut timber a year before, so there were brush piles all over the place between his fields. We would go up to a pile and one of us would get in position while the other climbed into the brush, shaking the pile to spook the rabbit.

That’s what my friend and fellow writer Daryl Gay calls “Rabbit Stomping,” the name of one of his humorous books.

Dove season was over by Christmas, but we still hunted quail some.  Most of our quail hunting was earlier in the year, though. Daddy often said he did not like to put too much pressure on the coveys we hunted, they had a tough time just surviving in the winter without being pushed, scattered and harassed by us.

I miss those hunting days but nowadays I prefer spending time in my bass boat in the winter!

If You Hunt Ducks Or Are A Conservationalits Or Even An Environmentalists Join Ducks Unlimited

Are you a duck hunter?  Do you like standing in freezing water before daylight hoping to get two or three shots just as it gets legal shooting light? Are you addicted to the thrill of duck hunting?

    Or are you environmentalists, not really interested in hunting but really concerned about conserving our natural environment? Do you want our wetlands kept wild and conserved for the future? Are you rational enough to know our environment can be used while keeping it, which is conservation, rather than totally left alone with no human use like fanatical preservationist demand?

    If you can answer yes to any of those questions you should be a member of Ducks, Unlimited. 

    Ducks, Unlimited (DU) was started in 1937 and currently has about 600,000 adult members in the US, with over 125,000 more in Canada and Mexico.  And there are about 47,000 youth members in the US. There are a lot of people interested in conservation and hunting in North America!

The DU mission tells you what the organization does. It says: “Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.” 

As of the beginning of this year Du had conserved almost 14 million acres in North America, with projects that affected another 127 million acres.  Conserved acres mean land dedicated to wildlife while affected acres may be an area with a project that does not dedicate the total area to duck habitat but improves it.

The most important factor of any organization is the percent of funds raised that actually go to their cause.  With DU it is an admirable 87 percent.  Only 13 percent of all money they get is used for administration, human resources, fund raising and development.  That is better than many other conservation organizations.

DU does not think duck hunting is only for private land owners. Here in Georgia their efforts have helped improve duck hunting in 16 WMAs and other areas open to public hunting.  These areas are spread out over the state so most Georgia hunters have easy access to one.

Some of the ones closest to us here in Griffin include Rum Creek, where a perimeter dyke and water control structures that improve 25 acres there.  Also, at West Point WMA, Glovers Creek, 90 acres of land were improved through replacement of an old water control structure that gave better use of water on the project.

And on Blanton Creek WMA on Bartletts Ferry Lake, two water controls structures were installed to conserve 50 acres.  Water controls structures like these two and others are sometimes as simple as a valve or gate on a dam that allows an area to be drained so grain can be planted then flooded to enhance it for ducks when the grain is mature.

    On some areas these devices use natural flow of water but on Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge there are big diesel pumps that drain huge fields each spring so they can be planted, then they are flooded in the fall when the grain is mature.

    All wildlife, from deer and raccoons to quail and rabbits, benefit from the habitat improvements of DU.  And nongame wildlife benefits, too.  All kinds of bird species use the same habitat as ducks.  Like bluebirds and cardinals?  They definitely benefit from the things DU does.

    The ways DU conserves includes: Restoring grasslands since many kinds of ducks nest in grasslands near wetlands and restoring them improves survival of young ducks, replanting forests because flooded bottomland forest give ideal wintering habitat for ducks, and restoring watersheds since the land around wetlands have a big effect in everything from nutrients to contaminants on the wetland.

    Other areas of conservation include: working with landowners since nearly three fourths of wetlands are in private ownership and most of those private owners are willing to manage them for wildlife, working with partners from other conservation organizations to government agencies, and outright acquiring land to dedicate to conservation, usually by getting it in government agencies control.

    Conservation easements protect land from future development, management agreements give financial incentives to private land owners to improve conservation and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enables DU to find where habitat work will be most effective. GIS includes combining satellite images with other information like wetland inventories, land use, soil type, wildlife use and other information to give a complete picture.

    If you are a duck hunter DU can help you with everything from information on waterfowl migration patterns to identifying different species of ducks.  The can help you learn the best decoy setups and how to train your retriever.  You can even get shooting tips so you hit more of your targets and calling tips so you get more targets to try to hit.

    Check out their web site for more information at and consider joining DU to help conservation of all kinds. A Ducks, Unlimitd membership would be a great Christmas gift for a youth or an adult.  Its not just for the birds!

Hunting Small Game After Deer Season

Now that deer season is over it is time to go after small game.  You can hunt rabbits and squirrels as well as quail until the end of February.  Some of my best memories growing up are of hunting those game birds and animals.

    One of my best friends had a pack of beagles and we hunted rabbits almost every Saturday after Christmas until the end of season.  I loved putting the dogs out and listening to them as they jumped a rabbit and chased it.  And it was always a challenge to try to be in the perfect place for a shot when the dogs chased the rabbit in a circle back to us.

     I got frustrated the first two times we went because I took my .410 and missed about half the rabbits I tried to shoot. I was used to shooting squirrels in trees with it and most of my shots at them were while they were sitting still.   Rabbits didn’t sit still.

    I started carrying a 12-gauge shotgun and seldom missed with it.  It almost seemed like cheating at first, but I wanted fried rabbit for supper!

    As much as I liked hunting with the dogs, one hunt without them stands out in my mind.  It snowed a little that week, not enough to mess up the roads but fields and even the ground in the woods was white.  My friend said it was too cold for the dogs so we played dog.

    We went to a farm where we knew there were a lot of good brush piles around the fields.  We took turns jumping the rabbits. One of us would stand on one side of the brush and the other one would stomp up on it and across the top.  It seemed at least every other brush pile had a rabbit in it that day and we got our limits, even without the dogs.

    Hunting on Sunday was illegal back then so most of our squirrel hunting was after school on week days.  Dearing Elementary School I attended from 1st through 8th grade was a little less than a mile from my house.  It was not unusual for me to ride to school with dad – he was the principal – and leave my .22 or .410 in his office. At the end of school I would go by and get my gun and go down to the branch near the school and hunt my way home.

    Dearing was, and is, a small town in McDuffie County and it was easy to avoid houses from the school back to my house.  I probably walked between two and three miles hunting from school to home but it was worth it.

    My dad hunted quail and we went a good bit before he got rid of the dogs and I started rabbit hunting.  He never went with me squirrel hunting but one time and that is a great memory.  One afternoon as I got ready to go out he said he would come along and we went to the woods across from my house.

Most afternoons I was happy to kill three or four squirrels, and I don’t think I ever killed a limit of ten. But that day I did. Daddy never fired a shot. I realize now he actually helped me kill squirrels, by making those he spotted move toward me so I would see them. At the end of the day he bragged on my about what a good  hunter I was, without letting on he helped.

This is a great time to make some memories like that. Take your kids hunting for squirrels and they will probably remember it all their lives. 

Shooting At Doves and Other Hunting Memories

 A polite descriptive term might be “little gray sidewinder rockets.”  But on a dove field you are likely to hear much more descriptive, unprintable language after a series of shots.

    Dove season opens Saturday, September 4 this year.  There will be hundreds of happy hunters sitting in blinds on hot fields waiting on a chance to burn some expensive powder, and maybe actually hit a dove or two.

    Don’t get me wrong, some dove shooters are excellent shots and hit with most of their shots. But the way doves dart and twist while flying mean even the best shots miss some.

My uncle Adron was the best shot I saw growing up. With his Browning “Sweet 16” shotgun, he hardly missed. Part of his expertise was knowing which shots NOT to take. Growing up during the depression taught him to conserve every shot.

I was not a good shot.  Usually if I could hit one dove every five shots I was doing good.  That’s five doves per box of shells, or with the current 15 dove limit per day, three boxes of expensive shells. But for the $7.00 per box, if you can even find shells this year, about $21 for what, a little over a pound of meat? That is higher than the cost of prime porterhouse steaks and you don‘t have to clean them! But you miss out on the fun of the shoot.

I say dove shooting rather than dove hunting since you sit and wait on a dove to come to you to shoot. You don’t hunt them until a cripple goes down in the thickest briar patch for a mile.

I loved going to dove shoots with daddy and being his “dog,” not carrying a gun but watching and retrieving any birds he shot. Saturday afternoon shoots were the norm for the month season was open, and we went to some good ones.

I have not been on a dove field since 1972, the first fall I lived in Griffin.  I didn’t know anyone here with a field but I saw an ad for a pay shoot near McDonough. I went over, met the farmer and he took me down to a field.  Some doves were flying so I paid him $25 and thought about where I wanted to place my blind on Saturday.

When I arrived Saturday mid-morning, I built a small blind with dog fennel woven into the fence at a post near a tongue of woods that ran out into the field. I noticed the field looked more like a pasture, and there were more hunters on another bigger field on top of the hill but didn’t think much about it as I got ready to shoot at noon.

By 1:00 I had shot two doves, the only two that came near me.  I was thrilled, I seemed to be on target that day. Then I noticed two guys dressed in solid green, not camo, walking from blind to blind talking to the hunters, so I got out my license.

I started to worry when I saw they were federal Fish and Wildlife agents, not local game warden. When one of them took my license, looked at it then put it in his other hand with a stack of licenses, not giving it back, I knew I was in trouble.

They explained I was shooting on a baited field and showed me ariel photos plainly displaying white strips of wheat on the green field.  They gave me a ticket.

There were about 30 furious hunters with guns that went up to the farmer’s house.  He got up on the porch, said don’t worry, he knew the local judge and nothing would happen, and bought a lot of beer for us. He also refunded our fees.

Local judges have no influence in federal court in Atlanta, where I was instructed to appear or pay a fine. I paid a $75 fine as did the other hunters, and I heard the landowner was charged $2000.  I have had no desire to go to a pay hunt since then.

Oddly enough, the game wardens did not ask to see my two doves even though I told them I had two, and they did not confiscate them.  But two doves for $75 is even more expensive than normal!!

When I bought my land in Spalding County I hoped to plant a dove field. But the only field on it is about an acre. The Georgia DNR recommends no less than five acres for a dove field. I planted wheat and even tried sunflowers, but at best would see two or three doves around the field.

The last doves I shot were about 15 years ago.  My upper pond was about five feet low all summer and the doves were using it as a watering hole since the bare ground around the water was easy to get to and fairly safe for them to drink.

I set up on the corner of the dam one afternoon and managed to shoot five as they came in to drink.  I found out doves would float when they fell in the water, and the breeze blew them to the bank.  Those were also the last doves I ate – they were good but not nearly as good as the ones mama and Gladys cooked.

For years going to Argentina to shoot doves was on my bucket list.  Tales of 1000 doves a day and having to use two or three guns to keep barrels cool made me want to go. But that is going to be an unfilled bucket, just like catching a tarpon.  

My goals have grown simpler as I get older. Now, just going fishing this weekend and maybe catching a bass or two is about all I can hope for!

Squirrel Hunting Seasons, Bot Flies and Memories

Saturday, August 14 passed for me without much notice.  That is quite a change from my pre-teen and teen years when opening day of squirrel season was arguably the most important day of the year for me. 

    From the time I killed my first squirrel at eight years old, I loved to hunt the furry tailed tree rats.  That first squirrel was not exactly a hunting situation.  I saw it grab a pecan from the tree in front of our house and run into the woods across Iron Hill Road.

    I was not allowed to go out of the house with a gun unless an adult was with me at that age.  Mama and daddy were not home but Gladys, the woman that worked on the farm, helped with housework and cooking and pretty much raised me as a second mother, was there.

I grabbed my Remington semiautomatic .22 rifle and told Gladys to come with me. She fussed but followed. As I entered the edge of the woods and went behind the hickory tree the squirrel went up with its pecan, I saw a flash as it went to the other side of the tree.

Gladys was still crossing the road, the squirrel saw her and did what squirrels do, went to the other side of the tree, giving me a good shot.  I picked it up and followed Gladys back to the house.

Mama and daddy got home soon after that and fussed at me a little about taking the gun out with Gladys, I think daddy was disappointed he had not been the one, but both seemed proud. And daddy showed me how to skin and gut the squirrel, the first of hundreds I cleaned and ate.  We had fried squirrel that night as a supplement to dinner.

Season started a lot later back then, in October as I remember, so weather was a lot cooler.  And that made it more enjoyable to hunt, fewer mosquitoes, stinging critters with wings, and snakes slithering around.  But I never really worried about anything when in pursuit of a squirrel with my .22 or .410.  I loved that time in the woods.

Since mosquito bites have been bothering me so much I have been thinking about bug bites and other bug problems. One of the most horrifying that I have seen only once is the bot fly egg lay.  I heard about wolves in squirrels but never saw one until season opened earlier and the weather had not cooled.

A bot fly lays its egg on the skin of a mammal.  The egg hatches and the small worm burrows under the skin, where it lives and grows for several months, growing into a fat maggot about 1.5 cm long.  They live between the skin and muscle, but do not hurt the animal host. But that big lump has gotta itch! And they grow under the skin for up to three months!

The squirrel I shot with a maggot, what we called “wolves,” had a small hole oozing puss on its back. When the skin was pulled off the wolf fell out. It was not attached in any way, just living between layers, and the meat under it was not damaged in any way. 

The maggot does not eat the meat or the skin, it feeds on “dead skin cells, and other proteins and debris that fall off of skin when you have an inflammation – dead blood cells, things like that,” medical entomologist C. Roxanne Connelly from the University of Florida stated.

Although I knew the meat was good, I could not eat that squirrel. Just the though of the pus coming out of the hole and that ugly critter living there turned me off too much.

During season I hunted every Saturday and many weekday afternoons. Hunting was not legal back then on Sunday and I am sure my parents would not have let me go even if it was legal. But every other day of the week was open!

I often took one of my guns to Dearing Elementary School and left then in daddy’s office. He was principal but I was not the only one allowed to bring a gun and leave it there until the end of the day. I had a route from the school up a creek and around town back to my house that I could still hunt, moving fairly quickly, and be home by dark.

Saturdays were special.  I usually left the house before daylight so I could be sitting under a big oak or hickory tree as it got light.  After the early morning feeding period, I would still hunt, walking slowly trying to spot a squirrel before it spotted me.

I seldom came home during the day, eating some saltines and Vienna sausage or Ritz crackers and potted meat from my small pack and drinking branch water.  Some days I would build a small fire and roast a squirrel or bird I had shot, but those feasts too up too much hunting time.

I learned a lot about still hunting, woods craft and patience while hunting squirrels that helped me when I started deer hunting. Staying still enough so a squirrel coming to its feeding tree first thing in the morning doesn’t spot you is easier than staying still enough that a deer does not spot you as it walks down a trail, but it is similar. 

Waiting for the right shot on a squirrel helps train to make a better shot on a deer, and tree rats provide much better, more realistic targets than paper nailed to a post.

A deer provides more excitement, mainly because it is rarer to shoot one, but numbers of squirrels makes up for size. After all, you can kill almost as many squirrels each day as you can legally kill deer in a whole season.

Squirrel season is open until the end of February, don’t miss out on the thrill.

Sitting In A Foggy Deer Stand

 There is something special about sitting in a deer stand on a foggy, misty, rainy morning. The world seems muted, with few sounds other than the soft plop of water drops hitting leaves. A big whiteoak acorn ricocheting off a limb makes you jump from the sudden loud whack.

Nothing much moves, no leaves fluttering in the breeze, just the occasional one spiraling down after letting of its warm weather anchor.  Squirrels and birds seem to be hunkered down in the damp, too.

    Sitting there with water dripping, and cool, moist air all around can be uncomfortable. But the makeshift roof over your head you made from a black garbage bag and some broken limbs keep most of the water off.

A wad of paper towel keeps the water out of your scope. It is pointed up since your gun is hanging by its strap from a carefully placed nail in your tree so your hands can stay warm in pockets, but ready for slow action.

Any movement draws your attention immediately. Is it a deer or a brave waterproof squirrel or bird? You know deer don’t mind a little rain and water. Their hide with hollow hair sheds the moisture and keeps them warm.   

Will that big buck you saw on your trail camera all year during the day show up? Or will it continue to move only at night like it has done since the weeks before hunting season when folks checking stands and putting up new ones alerted it to coming danger.

Or maybe a tender young doe will wander by and become some of this year’s larder in your freezer. Some folks criticize you for hunting, but those same folks may go to the grocery store and buy meat that has gone thought no telling how many hands before getting to your table. You know exactly what has happened to the steak on your plate.

You love days like this whether you see a deer to shoot or not. It is part of your heritage and life. From the gun hanging beside you to the lucky cap on your head, your equipment goes back a long way. And you hope to pass it on when you are gone.

All the troubles of the world seem to lessen as you sit in nature. They may come flooding back as soon as you return to the “unreal” world, but for now you are at peace. You are happy just being here tuned in to the real world of nature.

Time seems to crawl, then go into fast forward when you spot something of interest. Is that flicker a deer tail? Ease your gun up slowly and check it out with our scope. It was just a leave twisting on a strand of spider web, but it got your attention and made your heart race.

No matter, you are here to shoot a deer but it really is not requires.  You are perfectly happy to go home empty handed again. Time to climb down and think about the next trip.

Wait – is that a deer…



FOLKSTON, Ga (November 12, 2021) — Get ready shooters! Two Rivers Gun Range, located in extreme southwest Camden County, officially opens to the public on Friday, Nov. 12. It is one of more than 40 public archery and/or shooting ranges currently available in Georgia.

“We are excited to welcome everyone to Two Rivers Gun Range,” said Gary Blount, Chairman, Camden County Board of Commissioners. “The facility is an asset to our community and something for shooters to enjoy. We appreciate the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and their contributions to make this facility a reality.”

Staff at this new range eagerly await your visit. Some of the exciting features include:

Pistol Range: 20 stations: 15-25- yard range with Reactive Steel Targets.
Rifle Range: 12 stations: 50, 100 and 200- yard range featuring digital “live” Kongsberg Target Systems.

This range will serve as a resource for area shooting enthusiasts. Hours for the range are Tuesday-Saturday (9 am – 6 pm) and Sunday (1 – 6 pm). Memberships, day passes, gift cards, and merchandise are available for purchase at the range office.

The renovation work done here today was made possible by hunters and shooters. The Wildlife Restoration Program, which funded a large portion of this project, is a federal program funded by hunters and shooters through excise taxes on the equipment they purchase and use, such as firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.

For more information on the Two Rivers Gun Range, visit For more information on ranges available in Georgia, visit