Deer were so rare here in Perry County in the 1930s that the Cannelton News wrote, “Doris Minto saw a deer on the way home from high school this week.” Doris Minto later became Doris Fiedler and my mother. She grew up on Deer Creek so I guess deer were abundant here once earlier. Of course I grew up on Bear Creek and I never heard of a bear in the area!
My dad was involved with the local conservation club that brought white-tail deer in from Louisiana in the 1950s. They also introduced Ring-tailed Pheasants which were all gone within a year or two but the deer flourished in Perry County, Indiana with its excellent natural habitat of the huge Hoosier National Forest. This area became a magnet for deer hunters from all over the state and soon you could follow the path of a deer running through the woods on opening day from your front porch by listening to the missed volley of shots along its trail.
Back then deer season only lasted for 3 days and the limit was one deer per hunter. Hunting was limiting to shotguns shooting slugs. Just about every farmer and every farm boy hunted and wild game was a significant part of many farmers diet. Getting a deer was a big thing and provided a lot more meat per animal than squirrels and rabbits.
Deer season this year began on September 26th with two days open for “Youth” season and ends on January 3rd with “Late Archery” season. In between there are “Early Archery”, “Firearms” and “Muzzleloader” seasons. Firearms is two weeks around Thanksgiving and is the most popular with shotguns shooting slugs and muzzleloaders allowed and even some large bore rifles legal for killing deer. Muzzleloader season is a little distasteful to me since it has little in common with the vision of Daniel Boone carrying a bag of powder on his side. Most muzzleloaders have ‘rifled’ bores and can kill a deer at over 200 yards compared to my Dad’s 12 gauge in the 1950s that could miss the side of the barn at 50 yards. But he could miss several times at that distance while today’s muzzleloader creates a false confidence that’s makes some hunters take ridiculous long shots that wing a deer. It takes so long to reload and to walk to where the deer was standing that many of these deer get away to die unfound.
I got my first gun from Santa Claus when I was 12 years old. It was a single shot 410 gauge shotgun and I still have it. I hunted rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs and didn’t waste a shell until I missed a crow. I wasn’t a very good shot but shells cost money and I was raised not to waste money or shells. My dad borrowed a 20 gauge shotgun when I was probably 16 years old and I killed my first and only deer. I went in the dark to a tree strategically located along a deer trail and sat silently on the ground with my back against it until a buck with maybe 14 points came walking toward me. I aimed, pulled the trigger and it fell almost right in the spot where it stopped. I ran to it and found a young spike buck lying in front of me. I never figured out how someone so quickly switched it on me but consoled myself knowing an old buck would not be nearly as good eating as the young one in front of me. I still have its “rack” mounted on my wall from that first deer but never killed another and soon gave up hunting for girls and taking photographs.
I now live on 1150 acres of prime deer (and turkey, rabbit, squirrel and coyote) habitat surrounded by Hoosier National Forest, German Ridge Recreation Area and several absentee owners who would readily allow me to hunt on their land. I have nothing against hunting and may even take Maisie or Tommy hunting someday if they are interested. But right now I only let a few others who enjoy it more hunt on my land with my permission and some others who trespass and hunt without my permission or are maybe just plain lost. I don’t shoot them or even make a big deal about it. Others do that for me. Let me assure you that I have had many offers!
At one time I let a lot of people hunt on my property but eventually got tired of them whining and complaining about each other until I am down to just a few who I try to separate by roads, creeks or other natural boundaries. It doesn’t work and they still get in each others way and I now understand why my dad posted his property and told would be hunters that there is nearly a half million acres of land in the Hoosier National Forest so they didn’t need to hunt on his!
So I live in an area with more deer and fewer hunters where long ago some worthless hunter shot a hand fed ‘bambi’ with PET written on its side in white paint before the sun rose on opening day. But also where the game warden, Loren Howell would call a farmer to make sure he was home saying, “Just checking to see if you are there. I will be over in about a half hour to check your freezer for illegal deer meat which I am sure is an incorrect report.” And he was always right about no illegal deer meat being there. He was the old game warden which brings me to this year’s story of the young conservation officer who arrived unannounced at the home of an unnamed 87 year old grandmother who we will just call Auntie Oakley.
Officer, “Mrs. Oakley, I understand you registered a deer under your name that you claimed you killed.”
Oakley, “Yes sir. That is correct.”
Officer, “What type of gun did you use?”
Oakley, “A 12 gauge shotgun with a slug.”
Officer, “Were you by yourself?”
Oakley, “No. I took my son with me.”
Officer, “Did he shoot the deer?”
Oakley, “No sir, I shot the deer.”
Officer, “And why did you take your son with you?”
Oakley, “I took him along to drag the deer home from the ditch.”
Officer, “Can I see the deer meat?”
Oakley, “No, I gave it away. I don’t eat deer meat. Do you have any other questions?”
Officer, “No ma’am. I guess you answered them all.”
Oakley, “Then why don’t you leave and do something useful. Goodbye.”
Your Farmer & Agrarian Philosopher JimDo you enjoy this blog? Do you find the information helpful? Then go ahead and treat me to a coffee or send me a tip! I love Starbucks Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Choose any amount you wish, whatever you feel this blog is worth to you.