Deer hunting the old way
A. Ray Lee
The cold nights and bright afternoons have deer stirring. Hunters have planted their food plots and are now praying for rain on the young plants. Overhanging limbs and brush are being removed from shooting lanes. Fifty-five-gallon drums of shelled corn have been laid in store and the kernels will be placed at strategic feeding spots so deer will develop favorable feeding habits in range of the stands. Shooting houses will be cleared of mice beds and wasp nests. Torn camouflage fabric hiding tripod hunting stands will be replaced.
Now is the time for checking hunting equipment including guns and skinning knives as well as sighting in new scopes and servicing ATV vehicles. Closets will be checked to make sure the latest in hunting clothing has been washed in a scent-killing solution and is ready to go. These are just a few things the modern hunter will give attention to. Yes, deer hunting is an expensive sport.
When asked if I play golf (which seems to be the sport of choice for ministers), I often reply with tongue in cheek, “No, I deer hunt and can’t afford two big sins.”
Deer hunting has drastically changed from the days when Clint and I began many years ago with the Post Oak Club in York, Alabama. We invested a modest membership fee that was used to pay a few club expenses and lease a large tract of land. In preparation for the season, members gathered at the clubhouse and fanned out over the hunting areas clearing lanes to the stands and making sure each stand had a number.
All hunts were scheduled before opening day and were group events. Hunters were positioned at the stands and drivers with dogs pushed the deer toward them. For safety’s sake, only shotguns were allowed. Hopefully, the noise of the drivers and the barking of the hounds would push a buck out of the thick briar patches and cut over timber close enough for a shot.
At noon we gathered at the clubhouse for a warm bowl of stew and to give a report of where deer may have been seen. If someone had missed an escaping buck, he was the object of a lot of good-natured harassment. When the afternoon hunt was over any deer taken would be hung upon a cleaning rack and dressed. The lucky hunter would get the rack. All who had participated in the hunt would receive a share of venison.
We were slow in dispersing as we lingered sharing in the commonality of a group who had enjoyed the hunt as a team.
The expenses were much less than those of the modern hunter. Not a lot of equipment was required. A simple shotgun, a few buckshot loaded shells, a pair of boots, and an army surplus field jacket were not that costly. Memories made were priceless.