With the weather not cooperating on opening weekend Missouri’s deer harvest was down for the second year in a row. Last year was a 20 year low for Missouri’s deer harvest with 69,614 deer and this year is 12 percent lower at 61,446. MDC states that this is not to alarming however considering that last years numbers averaged out for the whole year too rank as the third most successful year ever, and they expect the same trend to continue in this years harvest. Lower numbers were somewhat expected due to high acorn numbers and a lower overall deer population. The bottom line is that opening weekend more myself much like many people through out the Midwest was a major let down. I had some luck as I had the opportunity to harvest a bobcat on Sunday morning which is a first for myself. It sure would of been nice to have a nice frost and calm morning instead of 50 mile an hour winds and spring like weather that enticed the beads of sweat out of most hunters.
Last week my class got to talk to Carrie Mess via a video phone call. Carrie is a well know activist for agriculture, she is the author of the well-known blog Dairy Carrie and is a member of the AG Chat board which is a website dedicated to telling the stories of a variety of figures in the Ag Community. Carrie has some unique but very well thought out and researched out looks on the Ag industry and especially the dairy side agriculture. One of the most interesting things about her story to me was the fact that much like myself she did not come from an agriculture or farm background but rather became interested in it after she married a dairy farmer. She also makes it very clear that the farm that her and her husband operate is very average in size to other Wisconsin dairy farms with only about 100 head on it. As a very well-known Ag activist who is still gaining followers one of the main points she stressed to us was that the Ag community has been playing defensive way to much instead of being on the offense. Not too many of us got what she was saying when she first made that comment but later in our conversation she explained it in a simple situation. She described how many farmers and advocates are against laws prohibiting animal cruelty because they prohibit them to do their jobs they believe, which is a very defensive way of looking at things. She explained that instead of being against these laws that the Ag community should indeed be against animal cruelty because that is the morally right thing to do not the fact that there is laws against it. Carrie also described how one of the largest challenges in her mind for the Ag industry as a whole is hitting their target market, many will never come around on some subjects but the ones that are supporters or on the edge are the ones that need to be focused on.
With the 2013 Missouri deer season in full swing and rifle season set to kick off this weekend don’t forget to break out your orange. Many hunters will converge on in the woods this Saturday on opening morning, it should be a great time to be in the woods enjoying nature and friends, don’t let it turn into a horrible accident. Make sure you pack your orange vest and hat, I even like to wear orange gloves as that is what a hunter naturally moves the most. Many see wearing orange as a major prohibiting factor, when in actuality it doesn’t affected your hunt as many think because are color blind. I have had several situations where deer look right at me while wearing orange and don’t get spooked at all, it is instead more a matter of having the coolest camo in the woods as if in a fashion show for many. Forget that and opt. for safety! Remember to always wear your safety harness and inspect tree stands before climbing up into them completely, it only takes one time to fall and be paralyzed or even worse end your life. The last safety tip I have to share is one that I have had pounded into my head ever since I stepped into the woods even if I wasn’t carrying a gun and that ALWAYS POINT YOUR MUZZLE IN A SAFE DIRECTION. I hope everyone has a safe and successful hunt, be thoughtful of other hunters and misunderstandings especially in public parks and good luck.
Halloween week continued to be the lucky time of the year for me again last Saturday. I had a great hunt, one of my good friends let me hunt on his property Saturday afternoon. I made a long trek down into the woods with a old heavy climber, I was starting to sweat and was no were being as silent as I was wanting. I tried a round of rattling at about five o’clock and was starting to get uncomfortable in this old stand with seemingly no deer around. About a half an hour later a doe came running out of a thicket behind me to the left. She crossed behind me and came down wind of me to the right of my stand. I could tell she had a hurt right hind leg when she looked up in my direction, I thought the gig was up and she was about to run off. However she calmed down a bit and continued to walk around in front of me. She continued to look in a different direction from which came unlike she was being followed so I sat back down assuming she was alone. Up until now the rutting activity in this area was not progressing to quickly. I was not sitting down for more than five minutes when I heard something coming through the woods from where she came. I turned and seen another deer, and after a few seconds I realized it was a decent buck. I then had to attempt to stand up again without him or the doe who was still out in front of me getting spooked. I thought he make a B-line to where she was to the left of me but he followed her path and cut behind my tree. When I started to slowly turn 180 degrees to my right he was just about right behind me and I realized that if I was going to shoot to my right I would need to loosen my safety harness. When I got my harness to break loose it made a little noise and he looked straight at me very sharply, I thought it was all over when he turned and bolted! My stomach sank when all of a sudden he stopped after running about 15 yards. His attention refocused back on the doe he was following and he headed straight towards her again. He started towards her and walked in front of me at about 25 yards, I drew my bow back and when he stepped into the clearing I let an arrow fly I hit him a little high but right in the vitals. I seen him run up a towards a hill which was very strange to me but soon there after I heard him crashing. I took my stand and bow back to my car and got help giving him a little more time. When I headed back down to look for him with my father I didn’t have to even follow a blood tail I seen some white at the base of the hill and found him laying about 50 yards from where I shot it. I was a great evening and I owe it all to my friend and his family for letting me hunt on this land.