Tuesday, October 29, 2019

If Boone Had Only Had a Drone..or maybe a trail camera!

         If you know how to work a trail cam, you can start feeding deer corn in late September and see what bucks are using the area, and when they are passing through.  Today’s trophy hunters know all about that.  Those are the people who start giving you antler numbers which tell you what buck is a trophy and what isn’t.  Even some of my close friends do that, and it is revolting to me, perhaps because of the way my dad raised me.  He told me often that when a man hunts or fishes he should never look at a wild creature as a trophy.
         Dad said that all living things we hunt or catch should be considered valuable as a creation of God.  If it doesn’t serve a purpose as such it should not be killed.  Of course when I first started observing the ritual of deer hunting back in the 1950’s deer hunting had not been allowed for several decades.  But those old outdoorsmen who came in Dad’s pool hall knew how to find and hunt bucks.  No one would think of killing a doe!! Old Bill Stalder and Old Jim Splechter didn’t hunt bucks only because they were wanting trophies, they were wanting to leave does to raise all the fawns they could.
         Antlers were nailed to the barn or shed back then, the hides were tanned and used and every ounce of meat went on the table during the upcoming winter.  Back then, no one was keeping records and no antlers were valuable, no matter what size they were.  I remember talking to a city hunter just a few years back who told me how the Missouri Department of Conservation had “brought back the deer and turkey.”
         I told him the MDC had never stocked one deer or one turkey, and I know because I was there.  It was the biologists, (who never called themselves that) of the MISSOURI CONSERVATION COMMISSION who did that.  They started stocking whitetail deer well before I was born, and the men who started it and carried it out are forgotten people, most of them dead many years.  Today’s deer hunters owe them a debt of gratitude, but their names are long forgotten.
         By 1960 they were still stocking wild turkey, and as a 12- year-old boy, I remember seeing some of that as they were stocked on the Big Piney and on a local landowner’s forested land.  The landowner who worked with those MCC people was Nolan Hutcheson. Landowners like Nolan made it happen and they respected the Missouri Conservation Commission and what they were doing.

         Today there are lots and lots of really big, measurable ‘”Trophy Bucks” in the Ozarks and those game cameras and modern tree stands make them much, much easier to kill than those that Ol’ Bill and  Ol’ Jim took every fall.  Now we have another device that makes it even easier.

         I have a good friend from Wisconsin by the name of Al Narveson who hunted deer with a bow in cornfields where the corn was still standing.  He told me once that big bucks in September would get in the middle of those cornfields and bed down in the afternoon and he would sneak down the rows with his bow, into the wind, and often walk right up on them.  It took lots of walking but he killed a lot of bucks that way.

         Today all that is simplified by using drones to fly over the corn and film what is in it.  You can pinpoint bucks that way, then sneak up on them.  I don’t know if any Ozark hunters do that yet, but it is coming.  Drones will make late-season hunting, after the leaves are gone, so much easier… especially with a skiff of snow.  Bedded down deer in thickets will show up like an unpeeled potato in a platter of gravy.  And you can figure out just how a buck will “score” and how to go after him. A Boone and Crockett set of antlers could be yours with such a drone.  Knowing what kind of men Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone were, I’ll bet they’d raise heck with their names being associated with many of the ‘trophy hunters’ of today.

         I have killed my share of the kind of bucks those kind of hunters want. I have long known that I could go up to northern Manitoba and take antlers in a habitat where no trees grow higher than 15 feet.  There are bucks there like no one in the Ozarks has seen.  What a hunting device a drone would be there. But when I am there the deer just do not interest me as much as the incoming ducks and geese.
         I will hunt no more deer.   I will hunt ducks while the woods is filled with blaze orange.  Part of that is because I know a lot about the TSE disease spreading through deer herds.  But too, sitting in a deer stand for hours and then working your butt off to dress and drag out a buck gets old as I get old. I would never ever take a deer to a processing plant, so I spend most of an afternoon cutting one up and grinding up what won’t make steaks.

         Deer season sometimes kept me from some great fishing in past years, or from pheasant hunts back in the days when southern Iowa still had some cover and some birds; and as to watching deer, or killing one, I can do that a hundred yards behind my house.  I can tell you this; nothing in the woods in mid-November can compare to the sight of mallards on cupped wings over a block of decoys.

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