Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Similarities of Goats and Bucks

  I am curious as to how those doe-scent manufacturers collect that much urine to fill the millions of bottles. Is it really necessary?  This doe, only a few feet beneath my stand didn't seem to notice my scent on the path I had taken only 20 minutes before.

         I am growing  a little tired of deer hunting!  It amounts to sitting in a tree stand wasting hours waiting for a few minutes of excitement.  Unless of course you see things you have never seen, like the time I saw that battle between the bobcat and the crows.  So what I do is, I take a pen and notebook and catch up on some things I want to write.  On occasion, I am so engrossed in what I am writing that I am surprised by what is happening in the woods below.  But while in a deer stand, I reflect on important things.  Like politics, religion and deer scents.

         Do you reckon there are enough doe deer in captivity to provide enough urine for those millions of bottles of ‘doe-in-estrus’ attractants which so many hunters buy because they don’t have the slightest idea what might work and what don’t?  I wonder, while I am setting there watching a male gray squirrel chase a female gray squirrel all through the branches of a big hickory tree, if there are people who make a good living running around in a pen full of tame deer with a bucket, collecting doe pee. 
         Frankly, I think that there may be some unscrupulous people selling goat urine as deer urine.  That makes me think, setting in that tree, about wild goats in the Ozarks.  Once, we had quite a few along the bluffs of the lower Big Piney River in the Mark Twain National Forest.  In November and December Dad and I would float that stretch of river a lot, hunting ducks in our wooden johnboat.  The goats were wild as anything, shaggy and white.  

         One of the times I remember the best was the cold, clear day when we floated through a shoal and heard what we thought was the sound of a rifle ahead, high on a wooded, rock-strewn hillside below a high bluff.  We drifted downstream, and there on the steep incline where a man could scarcely stand up, was a pair of big rams, backing off a few feet and then launching themselves at each other, bashing horns with a force that you would kill them both.  Several ewes and young goats were standing around watching.  The battle just went on as we passed, and we could hear that crack of horns coming together as we moved downstream behind our floating blind.  We saw them often for a few years in the sixties.

         But in twenty years, there were no goats to be seen along the Piney’s high bluffs.  Dad said he figured those blankety-blank hunters from the city had killed them all.  My dad did not like deer hunting and he had little use for those red-clad hunters from the city who descended on Texas County from the city.   That stemmed from a time when we were floating the river and bullets whined over our boat, the result of three half-drunk deer hunters shooting at whiskey bottles in the river downstream from us.

         Dad was really mad and he told those three they were nothing less than gold-plated idiots for shooting high powered rifles at the surface of the river.  It seemed as he was awfully brave or awfully dumb, giving heck to three guys standing on the bank with rifles in their hands. 

         We didn’t hunt deer when I was smaller because Dad didn’t like venison at all.  We ate everything else you can imagine, especially wild ducks.  When I was in college, when Dad and I floated the river and hunted ducks, he agreed to let me take a 30-30 along and shoot any buck we might sneak up on. 

         When I was really young, legal deer season, bucks only, was a fairly new thing and deer weren’t very plentiful. In our pool where I worked as a boy… there were a few avid deer hunters. The most successful was Ol’ Bill Stalder, Grandpa Dablemont’s friend and trapping partner who often brought in his buck in the back of his old red International Harvester pick-up, to show everyone in the pool hall.  I was so fascinated, I always read deer hunting stories in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, and here in our pool hall we had one of the best.

         Bill knew more about deer than anyone in Texas County, and he educated me well.  Once he brought in an old military rifle that he hunted with and let me look at it.  He called it a ‘guvamint 45-70’.  Hunting with that rifle was similar to hunting with a shotgun slug.  Bill said that some of the modern rifle bullets were so fast they would deflect upon hitting a bush or twig.  He said his old rifle would just shoot through a sapling and kill a deer on the other side.  The bullets were big, heavy and slow.  But Bill hunted in brush country because he said that was the kind of country bucks liked.  He said that a deer hunter had to use the wind properly, and it was the wind that determined how and where he hunted.  I think he and the old boys who sat on the front bench and looked forward to deer season would have really hooted and hawed about a bottle of deer urine that cost ten dollars!

         In November, Bill said he would stuff his overalls with apples, and eat them while he was in the woods.  He would use a bucket of rotten apples or ripe persimmons to eliminate his own scent.  He would put the apples, nearly rotten, in a bucket and when he left his pick-up he would step in the bucket of soft apples with his boots until the apples were just mushy and his boots saturated with the pulp and juice.  I guess it worked.  I think he may have washed his long-handled underwear before a hunt, but I don’t know that.  He told me that the tobacco he chewed was a natural attractant to deer, but I couldn’t ever chew the stuff without getting sick.  And if you are in the woods, heaving away from your deer stand, you diminish your chances.  And good grief, the darned tobacco is nearly as expensive as a bottle of deer scent!

         The one thing I have in common with Ol’ Bill is the fact that you won’t see me spending ten dollars on a bottle of deer scent, whether it is from a doe or not. I will confess that many years ago a scent manufacturer came up with the idea of blowing doe-urine scented bubbles while sitting on a tree stand.  He gave me a bottle of it and I did indeed sit up there in my stand blowing bubbles on several occasions.  It was kind of fun, but I don’t know that it attracted any deer.  I know that if Ol’ Bill would have rolled on the leaf-strewn forest floor in laughter if he had seen me doing that.

         I also know this… if you can come up with goat urine a month before deer season, you can create a great buck-scrape beneath an overhanging oak branch by pouring it in the right spot, because bucks do not know the difference.  I don’t know that today’s deer hunters can tell the difference either especially those who have spent most of their lives in the big city, and come to the woods only during the deer season. And that is why, if you own some goats and have some little plastic bottles and don’t mind chasing your female goats around with a bucket, you might be able to make some good money this time of year.

         Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at  Please see my website, if you are a computer person.

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