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Deer Hunter

I don't know what possessed me to think of hunting such an animal of elusiveness. My experiences with the turkey taught me all too well the pitfalls of trying to outwit a creature that has millions of years of the evolutionary history of eluding predators, to think a mere nimrod with a gun and the internet could outwit. But to use a fishing quote I heard once, "They say that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish." I think it works the same for hunting. So the goal is to be one of the ten percenters who manage to overcome the defensive weapons of elusiveness and detection.

Everyone knows that deer's sense of smell is legendary and key to their survival. A deer's nose has about eighty million more smell receptors than a bloodhound, so it's safe to say that within three hundred yards they can tell whether you drank Coors or Budweiser the night before. Say no more, say no more.

Deer Hunter

And don't overlook their eyesight. Deer have very good 310 degree peripheral vision that is believed to see into the ultraviolet spectrum for those low light conditions and, contrary to popular thought; they are not really color blind. They're more like color challenged between the longer wavelengths like greens, yellows, oranges, and reds, suggesting that they may not be able to differentiate much between them. If there is a weakness it's lacking a little in-depth perception which is hopeful if you can remain completely still. They will pick up any movement, by you the hunter, instantly.

That ability to see into the ultraviolet range should cause concern because a lot of the camouflaged gear on the market is either made with the thread that has whiteners in the dye or coated with a whitener that makes it look more attractive to the consumer. A Black Light shone on a lot of these fabrics reveal that psychedelic shimmer you would really rather like to avoid in the woods because that's what the deer sees, especially in low light.

Hearing is the only sense that is close to parody with humans. What? I thought a deer can hear a pin drop at a thousand yards! Imagine that you spent your whole life living in the woods with nothing to listen to but woods sounds. No TV blaring, or mp3's screaming into earbuds, no traffic rumblings or lawnmowers, or chainsaws, or weed eaters, or any of the thousands of continuous daily noises that you almost filter out. Now imagine that your ears are four inches long and can swivel independently. No, you're not being sent to Bad Boy Island, instead, you now have the ability to focus on any sound around you even if it's behind you.

Deer Hunter

Now imagine your average clodhopper hunter gets out of his truck slams the doors, laughs at his buddy who's taking a leak on the tire, and then slams the bolt closed on his loaded weapon before tromping off. Wait those aren't woodsy sounds, your new deer ears, which definitely set you apart from the rest of the crowd I might add, pick that up instantly from your hideout a half-mile away because you've been listening to nothing else your whole life but woods sounds!... Well, if you put it that way.

Deer, the ultimate big game animal for most hunters in The US poses the most difficult to acquire. Not that there aren't a shortage of these four-legged running and jumping machines. Estimated numbers put them over 700,000 in Florida which is a mere pittance compared to the 4,000,000 in Texas, the leading whitetail deer state. So boo hoo for us. But I wasn't about to be deterred by such puny numbers compared to some of the other states.

The problem for the average hunter, however, island accessibility. Public land is our only option if we're not wealthy or lawbreakers. That means hunting the wildlife management areas owned and managed by the State. And that means herds of hunters, not just deer.

Density, that's the core of the issue. My area of central Florida is estimated to have a density of 15 to 30 deer per square mile. With a five to one ratio of does to bucks which is a reasonable figure according to biologists, and using 20 as a middle figure, I could expect to be in the vicinity of about four bucks per square mile of my hunting area, pre-season figures. Considering that at least one of those bucks would be antlerless, that whittles down the figure to about 3. But hunting pressure could reduce that number to 1or 2.

My hunting area contains about ninety-nine square miles and allows 650 permits per day. That's potentially about six hunters per square mile searching for a couple of legal deer. Yes, that could be the reason I didn't hunt opening weekend and another reason to hunt from a deer stand, which I didn't have.

My challenge would be to hunt them from the ground, the disadvantage I know, but never the less a worthy quest.

Jal Pari Papa Aur Mermaid

The first aspect of any hunt regardless of the prey is scouting out the area. Google Earth is a great tool, but boots on the ground are needed to verify potential locations. But where to look? Well, deer are found in the woods. Oh really? I bet you can taste that venison steak already. But not so fast. The "woods" is a big place. Where do you think those deer hang out all day? Definitely not out in the open I can tell you that. My numerous scouting trips out into the woods revealed a very apparent scarcity of these creatures. But they are there in deep, thick cover where your most careful approach will be detected like trumpets at the walls of Jericho.

My hi-tech tree cam didn't help me much either. I had set it up on a trail at a natural bottleneck I had spotted some deer tracks on, hoping to catch a glimpse of the resident bucks. A week later I came back to get the pictures. What they revealed made me uneasy. I caught cows on parade, cows in the morning, cows at night. Black cows, white cows, brown cows, spotted cows. Cows going forward, cows going backward, cows mugging the camera, cows mooning the camera, cows in a conga line. Good grief. I had managed to photograph the whole herd. This property is leased out to a cattle ranch that has them roaming all over.


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