Imagine yourself perched twenty feet up in a tree at six o?clock in the morning in the middle of December. Completely exhausted from the mile hike to your stand, you start to feel the effects of the freezing weather as your body begins to cool down. Your fingers and toes feel like they are going to break off as you wiggle them, desperately trying to regain feeling. Does this seem like an enjoyable leisure sport? Whitetail deer hunting is a very popular winter sport in the south and in many other parts of the country. According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, there were over a hundred and fifty thousand resident gun deer hunters in Mississippi in 1998.
Deer hunting may seem to be very simple and barbaric but actually it involves many well thought out strategies that ensures clean kills, healthy wildlife, and of course trophy bucks- the male deer that is usually sought after for a large set of antlers. The state government, by means of Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, regulates seasons so hunters can effectively control deer herd populations, thus preventing disease and starving game. Revenues from license sales are appropriated towards conservation of refuges and public hunting land. Mississippi also requires hunters to take a hunter education course before they are able to purchase a license, if they were born after 1972. (MDWFP) Intervention from the state makes this sport safer and more organized.
After purchasing a license it is important for a hunter to have a place to hunt. There is over 800,000 acres of public land in Mississippi that is easily accessible to hunters. (MDWFP) Wildlife refuges host a certain amount of youth hunts for hunters under the age of sixteen. They also have handicap hunts that allow the physically disabled to enjoy the outdoor adventures of a whitetail hunt. These special hunters are provided with guides that assist them in getting to the selected spot and help with aiming and firing of the rifle. In areas where public land is either scarce or overcrowded and dangerous, hunters may choose to join a hunting club that usually owns or leases land.
Searching for a good place to put a deer stand involves looking for clues that deer are in the vicinity or at a trail they travel in a certain area frequently to hide is called scouting. Michael Hanback of Outdoor Life suggests looking for ?deer activity zones.? These include crop fields, food plots, where bucks feed openly with doe (a female deer). He also suggests searching large thickets, swamps, and overgrown fields. These are the places mature bucks are most likely going to hide when guns start booming. (Hanback) There are two main things to look for when out scouting are rubs and scrapes. Rubs are the most obvious because they are located at the base of trees where the bark has been rubbed off by the buck with its antlers. It does this because it is trying to rub off all its velvet, a soft covering on the newly developing antlers of deer. Scrapes are where the buck scrapes up the ground and urinates for two primary purposes- mate attraction and to mark territory.
There are two types of gun hunting- with dogs and without. Running dogs involves letting the dogs run through the selected woods in hopes of jumping deer or running it in a certain area a hunter occupies. When not using dogs it is almost mandatory to have planted a food plot. This consists of a strip of land where winter grains such as alfalfa, oats, milo, and winter wheat are planted. These nutritious grains are essential to antler size and uniformity. These plots of food are hunted over in a stand usually fifteen feet or higher. There are a variety of different stands but the most common are the ladder stand that simply has steps and a platform that is latched to a tree and the climbing stand that comes in two parts with the bottom section strapping to the hunter?s feet enabling him to scale up the tree. Climbing stands are very dangerous and a safety strap should always be worn. It is not recommended for use on soft woods because the bark slips too easily.
Weapon selection is a very important process that includes many variables. Price, of course, is always a factor. Usually the more you spend the better quality of firearm and scope you can get. A scope is a magnified optic usually with adjustable variations of magnification centered with crossed hairs and mounted on rifle for better accuracy. Terrain and foliage are significant in choosing the type of rifle or even a shotgun. When hunting in a wide-open area and planning on taking a shot over two hundred yards, a long range rifle such as a 30.06 or a 7mm mag should be used. These kinds of rifles have a medium-size bullet that is fired at a high velocity thus it is able to have a straighter trajectory. Hunting in thick brush or very wooded areas a shotgun or a large bore rifle such as a .44 mag or a .30.30 proves more successful because brush and foliage will not deflect the bullet. Not only do they have great knock down power they also are very precise up to a hundred yards. Careful sighting of your rifle prior to hitting the woods ensures successful marksmanship.
Gear is one thing that will increase your time spent in the woods and provide successful hunts. A pair of warm comfortable boots coupled with a pair of good wicking socks, socks that draw sweat away from the foot, will keep you in a stand longer than anything else. Layers of clothes should be worn to ensure comfortability and prevent risk of overexposure. A large parka and bib overalls or coveralls, usually of a particular camouflage pattern, is the outerwear of choice. Gloves and a mask are always a nice extra to have around. Cover scents are used to hide our natural human scent. They consist of urine sprays, dirt smells, or even a charcoal?lined scent proof suit. Doe urine is good during rut, a time when the buck is looking to mate. Other optional gear includes grunts, bleats, and a pair of antlers or rattle bag. A grunt call imitates a male deer?s call and bleat call imitates a doe?s call. A rattle bag or antlers simulate two bucks fighting and this lures deer in by curiosity.
Deer hunting is a very strategic sport that is taken seriously by a lot of people. It has many processes and events that lead to one another and combine in the long run to produce a desired event, a trophy buck to hang on the wall. Over the years hunting has evolved from a way to get food to a family tradition. Hunting grows more and more popular as the tools, weapons, and gear get more sophisticated.