-Real-Life Close Encounters
-Tradition and Wisdom = Proven Advice
-Building Steady Nerves
By Forrest Fisher
Big bucks and big doe’s too, are at home in thick mature forests. On very windy days where gusts are creeping up to 35-40 mph and more, look for sunken creek beds in gorged out valleys to find the larger whitetail deer, even groups of larger deer, which many of us are looking for.
It only took me 50 years to find that out on my own, but then I have not been able to afford to hunt on game farms and fenced private hunting camps with massive food plots. Of course, I honestly respect those who can do that, but for many the truth is – besides not being part of their budget, they simply say, “That’s just not real hunting.” Game farm hunting is more a test of your shooting skill for bragging rights, many say. You know the deer are there, you know you will get a shot at some point, the only question you have is simple, ”Is a 4-1/2 year old buck old enough to harvest?”
That’s not really a question for me and the tens of thousands of hunters like me who rarely even see a two or three year-old deer with all the hunting pressure we have in New York State. In the end, while I have passed on many two-year olds, I take the deer of my choice when I feel that the time for hunting season is running out and I need some venison in the freezer.
In my family, venison is the only essential red meat subsistence we eat. Venison is healthy, nearly fat free, high in protein and high in organic electrolytes and staples from the vegetarian diet without fertilizer and pest control products that deer consume as found in the natural wild. That’s the kind of meat we seek. So eventually, even if the deer is not a four-year old, I need to take one or two.
For most ordinary hunter guys (like me), hunting is usually done on small private tracts of 50-100 acres or less, and on public lands in New York State known as state forests. There are many state forests in New York, some as large as 5,000 acres and many in rugged and unforgiving terrain locations where only the “very fit” might consider the possibility for access and hunting. Many other state forest tracts are common with hills and grasslands, mixed with conifers and deciduous tree variations, good for young hunters and slow-moving oldsters alike.
For folks with little time for hunting and an adequate supply of funding, game farms are one way to go. For other folks with little time and a limited supply of funding, welcome to my world.
Pre-season weekends are used for exploring new hunting lands and setting trail cameras. We use the Wildgame Innovations CLOAK™ 6 LightsOut™ cameras that capture 6-megapixel images and daytime or nighttime videos, these have a stealthy 36-unit high-intensity black LED infrared flash that is invisible – all for well under $100. My budget can afford these.
I use the trail cam’s where I can see visible sign, but no deer, then try to identify what deer and how much deer herd activity is in that neighborhood before and during the season. It helps my hunting family to better manage where we focus our hunting efforts.
Wherever we go, we do know that we will likely have to work hard to succeed. There are fewer farmers with corn fields, an increasing supply of housing developments and fewer areas to hunt than ever before, but the bottom line is that we know we will enjoy the preparation for the hunt, researching the new brands of archery gear, firearms, optics and accessories, and we will enjoy the adventure of the hunt because we hunt together as a family and a team. On certain days, we may spend hours in quiet conversation with the great wind from the north, but that is just part of the nature community and our non-game farm hunting community. It is the reality of the natural world.
We work together to improve our hunting trip efficiency – staying safe as possible, but we know we always can be better.
We work toward fulfillment at the next level – seeing more deer and harvesting bigger deer. Hunting with our hunting family is a win-win for everyone across the board. Hunting season dates and plans are exciting times because while we never talk about it, we know that the bonds we form with nature and each other are powerful, satisfying and timeless.
We share our thoughts and questions often. We sense too, there is that magical link to our ancestral past – hunting is sacred to us in that sense. For hunters everywhere, many of us are irrepressibly drawn to the woods to ponder the challenge and vulnerability of the whitetail deer we seek. Without spoken words, there is love and affection for the species, and there is dilemma there too – all at the same time. Simultaneous satisfaction of this sort seems hard to define, yet it is real.
Entering the woods together, it is easy to affiliate with the spirit of the hunt as we develop a renewed sense of kinship and reverence with all the life we find in the deer woods. Hunting in the wilds of a non-fenced natural area is an extraordinary experience in these modern times and it will become even more extraordinary as time goes on.
Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example.