Hunter’s Corner: Deer and hunters are out and about
A few weeks ago, a hunter who had gotten lost in Pittsburg came to a happy ending when he was rescued by conservation officers.
I always pack three items in my possibles bag to avoid spending the night in the woods. Perhaps the most important item is a whistle. The human voice just doesn’t carry that far in the woods, but a whistle does. The second item is a spare compass and the third is a flashlight with spare batteries. While many have faith in cell phones, in remote areas there is no cell coverage and unless you have your phone set to airplane mode, your battery will discharge while seeking tower coverage that is not available.
With deer season now open, a recent survey asked 722 hunters why they hunt deer. The top answer was acquiring meat. It seems the locavore movement is influencing the hunting community. According to the survey, sportswomen now command nine percent of the “established hunter” category and 14 percent of new or returning hunters. More than half of all women surveyed, 55 percent, indicated acquiring meat was their largest incentive to hunt. Only 27 percent of men voted similarly.
Other factors such as increasing game populations, land availability and lottery system changes also were named as incentives to go hunting.
Venison was originally a name given to wild game regardless of source. Over time, venison was exclusively associated with deer meat. Venison contains no additives or carcinogens, is low in fat and is cholesterol healthy. Properly treated, from field dressing to butchering and properly preparing the venison for the freezer, it is an epicurean delight.
For the first two days of the regular deer season, I was hunting with Scott and his son Brett. I lent Scott my Eastfield 12-gauge pump. The shotgun has a 19-inch smooth bore and I have added a Williams Fool Proof peep site with a low light aperture. Scotty took the shotgun to the range and was ecstatic with the tack driving accuracy with three-inch sabot rounds.
Scott, as it turns out, is a skilled deer hunter and very serious about hunting safely. As my son Robb is fond of saying, “An apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” Brett has been well schooled in the science of deer hunting and is also intent on hunting safely. Opening day was just right temperature-wise, but the wind did us in. It was a swirling wind that spooked the deer and whereever they had bedded down the night before, they weren’t moving unless you kicked them out of bed. We were hunting in WMU J2 owing to the two-day, either-sex hunting and ended up at my favorite location. As we were heading in, we bumped into three hunters coming out. They hadn’t seen any deer, either.
Day 2 was much better. As Scott was heading into a patch to drive to Brett and me, he spotted a deer feeding 60 feet ahead of him. The deer would feed, raise its head to look at Scott and then resume feeding. This went on for what seemed like an eternity but was in reality several seconds. Scott didn’t even have a chance to load his shotgun before the deer made him as danger and blasted out of there. Scott jumped six deer, pushed a seventh near Brett, and we all saw a doe in a non-hunting situation. It was an encouraging two-day opening.
I checked in with Brad Marshall and deer registrations are running higher than last year with 53 checked in. Matt Benton is leading the deer pool in both categories with a 215-pound buck and a 103 doe. The buck may hold up, but I suspect the doe will be challenged by a heavier doe.
Right now, the only WMUs that have either-sex deer hunting for firearms are WMU l and M. With the exception of archers, the rest of us will be hunting for bucks. Last year, when a deer study was completed, the most active day of the rut was Nov. 22. Between now and the 22nd, we will experience the majority of deer-auto collisions.
Women interested in learning about handguns can sign up for a women’s handgun course through the New Hampshire Becoming an Outdoor-Woman (BOW) Program. BOW is teaming up with Sturm Ruger and the Sunset Mountain Fish and Game Club to offer the course, which will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday evenings Jan. 7, 21, 28 and Feb. 11 at the Sunset Mountain Fish and Game Club, 17 West Road in Canterbury. Participants must attend all four sessions.
A brochure and registration form for the course is available to download at nhbow.com. Registration opens tomorrow. Registration is first-come, first-serve. If you are interested, sign up soon, as registration is limited to 10 participants. The fee is $60, which covers all equipment, materials and instruction.
This class will offer instruction in basic safety, different types of handguns, handling, loading, firing, storage, care and maintenance. After initial instruction, participants will spend the remainder of time on the firing line, putting into practice the mechanics, techniques and safety rules learned in the classroom. Please note that this is not a self-defense course.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)