Friday, January 9, 2015

We Can Fix It

From the pen (or keyboard) of a hard core hunter. I am that guy.... the deer hunter.... who lives it and breathes it. When I go to bed I think about deer and when I get up, I think about deer. I have 8 children with various age ranges and I have kept them in the outdoors. I do that for a lot of reasons but mainly because I can't imagine life not spent in nature. My kids though do not go to bed thinking of deer or wake up thinking of deer. Granted some are small like my little Madason in the picture here but some are not. So I wonder why is that? It is actually the one thing in the world that does bother me. I wonder why  the numbers of hunters across the country are dwindling each and every year. I have spoken with the State of Alabama wildlife guys and they say, it is hard to compete with the instant gratification generation and the PS3. What? That is your sound so defeated. You are our....leaders? I just can't go along with this thinking. In fact, I'm against it. I'm no genius but something is wrong. Something has happened. What was it and how do we fix it? While I go over this stuff in my head and beat myself up over the answer to a vital question, a man down the street by the name of Bill Blanton offered to take my 10 year old son on a coon hunt. I wasn't sure about it. I'm no dog hunter. Everybody is always complaining about the dogs running all over. But it was May, no harm in it, y'all have fun. Bill picked Luke up and they headed down the road.  I waited up on Luke hoping he was having a good time. Bill is older and has Parkinson's disease.  I just didn't know how it would go. When Luke got home, I saw something.....a huge smile. His eyes were bright, his face lit up. He had been on a coon hunt and he loved it. Bill thanked me for letting Luke go and he drove away. Luke talked for the next two hours. Over the next few weeks Luke kept asking to coon hunt. Bill knew he could not hunt much longer and began to give his hunting things to Luke. A light, a harness, some waders and then his prized dog. I began to hunt with Luke and by the time September rolled around our hunting party had grown to 11. Usually we had two adults and 9 kids. My pregnant daughter and wife went with the son in law one night with Luke's dog and low and behold they treed a coon! Our ranks continued to grow until it hit me at a tree one night. It was just before Christmas. The dogs were treed on the top of a ridge. The moon was full and the stars were bright. Our hunting party reached the place. The bawling of the dogs echoed out through the cold night. Surrounding the tree with lights shinning towards the sky in search of the coon were 9 kids and the 2 adults. I stood back and looked at all the lights, I heard the kids yelling, "I see him! I see him!" Luke had the gun and was zeroed in on a mission. As the lights lit the single tree and the two coon eyes shown bright I thought to myself.... this is my Christmas tree. This is the answer to my question. It is not the PS3 or the instant gratification generation. It is the treestand. We have vilified dog hunting in general. The casualties and collateral  damage has been beyond our ability to define it. We haven't cared to define it because the Trophy Buck is the only thing that matters. We have done this to the demise of us all and those in power cow down to the self serving trophy hunter. My hunting party went from one to me and 9 kids, who blow my phone up every night wanting to know when we can go again. You want to know why the numbers are dwindling...ask me...I'll tell you. You want to know how to fix it...ask my friend Bill Blanton.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just A Day

What a day we had last December squirrel hunting on the David K. Nelson WMA. That was 7 months ago. Seems like just yesterday. Already these kids look different. They have grown a little more, changed a little in appearance. I wish it was still December of 2011 because time is moving to fast. That little squirrel hunt is something they will take with them as long as they live. Their memories of the place and what we did will be stories they tell to their children someday around the fire. It was only one day but it meant so much to us all. This was a special day. We drove for hours, stopped at the gas station, got some snacks. We were in a place unfamiliar to them. Finding an old brick railroad column the kids made their way to the top and set up defenses. In the meantime our little dogs treed a few squirrels. At lunch we made our way to the truck and caught a nap. My wife drove down 3 hours to our location to pick them up during the lull of the midmorning. The three of us who were older stayed on for the afternoon hunt but the kids hopped in the SUV and headed for Oakman. It was well planned knowing the kids were woke at such an early hour they would be tired and they were. Watching them drive away with Melody was sad. But it was time for them to head out. That afternoon we kicked it up a notch and put those little dogs in gear. I missed the kids but I was 10 years old again myself. So were the other two guys. There is no age in the woods. Only a love for what you are doing. The same thing you were doing so many years ago when you were very young. The drive to hunt game is powerful. It doesn't change. There is always something around the next bend. Always a suprise or a reason to come again. It is 105 degrees in July right now. I am in my office but I can smell the mud of the Tombigbee river. I can feel my feet sink down in it as I look into the top of an 80 ft oak tree. It is quiet......very quiet.....shhhh. I can see him! I'm taking the shot.........

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's Hot but It's Time

It's hot but it's almost here. Today was, according to the weather man, the hotest day of the year. Heat index was 105 degrees. Tomorrow the forcast is 111. I know it sounds crazy but hunting season is 12 days away in Georgia. I hope to be there. Squirrel hunters can begin their quest August 15th. Ticks, chiggers, red bugs, mosquitos, nats, flies, snakes, spiders and the like are all alive and well. I assure you I will not plan to hunt all day. I have 3 squirrel dogs of which one is an ace, one is started, and one don't know beans. I hope to get them in the woods and get an early start. When then the Alabama season rolls around we will be well on our way, tuned up and focused. I'm sure there will be a price to pay. Personnally I hate chiggers and red bugs. With the leaves still green and growing there will be a lot of looking for a squirrels that cannot be found. But we will find a few. I can use the squirrels to train the puppy. I want to get four or five days under our belts before October 1st, the beginning of the Alabama season. Hunting very early and very late with much repellant we should be just fine. Hard to drive away from the green fertile waters of the Tennessee River and Lake Guntersville but the opportunity is too tempting for a short trip to kill squirrels in Georgia.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Don't know the name of the flower but it was pretty awesome to see.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Roger Johnson killed this 170+ buck in the second week of December 2010. He saw the buck the evening before and let it go. Thinking about it that night, he realized the deer was actually a deer he should have shot. Fortunately the next morning a "hot" doe came scampering by and he was close behind. This deer is one of many that have went down in Walker County over the past 10 years. Taking deer management seriously, without buck limits, without feed, and without intervention, Roger and his buddies created a piece of property that is consistent in 160 plus deer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is It All Wrong

Buck management is always a hot topic. It is something that every deer hunter talks about and works for. Over the last few years the theory has been, shoot your does. The bucks get better quality feed and chase harder during the rut. Having fewer deer to breed, the biggest bucks must come out to chase around the few does that are left. Everyone liked the thought of having so many does we could shoot them at will. Even the term, "Just go kill you a doe if you want some meat," was born. I have noticed problems with this theory and I'm not alone. Starting with the fact there has never been research on this issue. Just copy cat tactics of other states. Quite honestly I've hunted these other states and wouldn't personnally follow their management practices, but we have. I am hearing reports now from hunters who say, "I just aint seeing any deer." Well according to the proponents of the three buck limit who told me 4 years ago, to give them 3 years to prove their point, big bucks should be behind every tree. So far I'm still waiting. The buck limit laws have not created the atmosphere it was sold on. I was talking to one of the biggest farmers in Autagaville just the other day who happens to run a hunting operation. He related to me that he has 200 cows in a pasture and 21 bulls. The ratio of cows to bulls is almost 10 to 1. If he went out tomarrow and shot 150 cows, next year his bulls wouldn't be any bigger. He would have a whole lot less cows in the pasture and a whole lot fewer calves but the effect on the bulls would be zero. What does have to do with the size of his bulls is genetics and age. Alabama has good genetics. You go to Eutaw Bait and Tackle and look around. These deer were grown when southern counties had corn and soy beans. Crop prices fell, timber companies stepped in and all these hundreds of deer had to eat was pine trees. Thus people began to see skinny deer with poor horns. Here is where the supplemental feed guys step in. They claim the answer is feeding or baiting to off set the losses. Well, if that was going to make a difference, it already would have. It is not illegal to bait or feed right now. It is just illegal to hunt it. If you wanted big deer, feed them, right now. But people will not do that. In order to get those big horns, deer have to be fed in May, June, July and August when deer hunters are elsewhere. No one feeds during those times. If you have checked the cost on a bag of feed lately you will see that's not a bad idea. It is to expensive for the average man to keep up year round. Therefore most hunters would go out two weeks before bow season and throw out 50 lbs of feed near their favorite treestand. This would do nothing to grow horns or manage deer. It is a lazy mans way of getting by. What is happening under the current management practices is that our "local" does, our breed stock, is depleated. Does do not roam very far from the place they were born unlike bucks. So when you shoot them out. All you have is a whole lot less deer, which is what we said in the beginning that the masses are beginning to complain about. All I'm sayin is without the research it is just an opinion by an Advisory Board, one of which whom stands to gain direct financial dividends, and researchers taking a shot in the dark. Deer hunters, you and I, know what we see in the woods. We know if the plan is working or not. Look at you club or your property. Where are you? Is the current system what they said it was going to be by now? Or do we need changes? Do we need research? Do you and I need to step in the ring and right the ship? Send me your comments bro's. It is not greater restriction we need, it is greater freedom to manage the land. I believe it is a shorter doe season and a more liberal buck harvest. Those practices only created the largest, healthiest deer herd in the United States of America. I find it very simple but....but it is not what everybody else is doing. I think my momma warned me about that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fighting For Forever Wild

A couple buddies and myself finished off an excellent 2011 squirrel season at the Demopolis WMA, now know as David K. Nelson WMA. I hope David K. Nelson was a good man because the greatest hunting spot in the world has his name on it. We took down 19 squirrel and this big boar coon. At the end of the day, some friends made a nice soup out of this old coon. No, No I didn't eat any of it. As a matter of fact, I didn't even hang around for the feast, I headed to Parrish Alabama for some much needed rest. Hunting behind a squirrel dog will walk you down. As my buddy says, P90X hunting. Had a great day anyway as I always do. The thing is, as wonderful as this property is, and you can see by the picture it is some of the best, it's future is temporary. What you and I call our back yard is a foreign land to many senators and legislatures. In my head funding for these area's is a no brainer. Anybody can see.......not so fast. They don't know and don't share our same understanding and passion for these places. They don't know how vital these places are. They've got a huge timber company in one ear promising campaign donations and perks for just a "little timber" harvested on an old remote piece of forgotten land. They've got others promising silver and gold and diverted funds from wild lands would make our schools the greatest in the nation and fill budget shortfalls. It's money, money, money. I have been on the phone fighting for our Forever Wild funding that makes these places posible. I am pleased to announce that so far not one single senator has voted against the funding. Yet, that was not so in the preliminary talks. Some questioned the need to put money into hunting and wild lands when this program and that program were under funded. It took many phone calls and persuation from a lot of people to make them understand what needed to be done. The fight is not over. We cannot rest until Forever Wild is refunded. Certain legislatures are trying to attach amendments that cannot win passage alone to a bill they know must pass and that is dead wrong brother. It is underhanded. Legal, but underhanded. Let Forever Wild pass and push your amendments on a stand alone basis. Right is right and I pray the dealings will be above board. Unfortunately, I smell a rat. One bigger than this coon I'm holding.