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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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Last chance on deer for the area

This weekend is the last chance deer hunters roaming our local woods will get for putting up any venison. If data holds true from just before Christmas, our harvest figures are going to look like the stock market when it took a dive several years ago. However, as much as we like to put meat up for the coming months, it is rarely about the numbers of deer we take and more about the camaraderie, tradition, and time we spend in the woods observing what God created for us.

Areas to our north will continue having a deer season as their special antlerless seasons continue into March in an effort to reduce their herd to prevent more disease and cut down on vehicular accidents in more urban areas. So, if you don’t take your deer this Saturday that you really want or need, perhaps it is time to knock on a few doors in Fauquier or other counties north of us for permission. See the regulations book for the special late antlerless only season or the special urban archery season in select areas.

Given the circumstances, and the evidently high mortality rate that HD had on our local deer herd, many hunters have opted to forgo the harvest of additional deer. This is being done to preserve what is left for next year, seed deer if you will. Perhaps the smartest thing for us to do on the last day of the season if we want to get into the woods and harvest a deer, is to harvest only a buck if we have a buck tag left. I suspect many readers have a buck tag or even two left. I know many hunters that never notched a buck tag period.

For those of us that are venturing into the woods one more time before it all is over until October, there are a few things we can do to improve our chances of seeing a deer. Over the years I have adopted a change in strategy that I try to employ several times during the latter part of the season to improve my odds. Perhaps the ideas will work for you.

Don’t park where you normally park. Deer get so used to hearing engines and doors slamming or even “clicking” shut that they know the drill and are conditioned to leave, hide or run. Park in a totally different area if possible. Have someone drop you off at your spot but not at the exact spot you normally park.

Approach your stand location from a totally different direction even if it means taking a very long way around. Again deer are now accustomed to what we have done each week and know exactly how to survive that approach.

Definitely consider not using the same stand you have used many times over the past month unless you are confident that deer will show up. The same logic with the two above ideas applies here. Time to shake up the game!

If you hunt with a club and do man drives, study a map before the drive and get everyone’s input on where they have seen deer this season and also find out which way the deer ran. Adjust your drive accordingly. At the beginning of the season there were still some leaves on the trees and the deer were feeding heavily on acorns. That has changed. Where have the deer been spotted the last few weeks and where did they run? Perhaps running your normal series of drives in reverse this last Saturday will yield a few more results.

If hunting solo, consider very seriously the thickest areas you can find. I did this just last week. The thicket was very small. If I had a clear view through it I would be able to shoot across it with buckshot; that is how small it is. Within an hour of snuggling down in it I moved my arm to look at my watch, (rookie mistake) and a buck that had slipped up on me to a mere 12 yards wheezed and bounded off.

The key to such thickets is easy access for the deer. Combine that area with a water source such as a swamp or hedgerow and you have a perfect place for a deer to use. As much as I am not a fan of buckshot, such areas if really thick, might actually be a good place to use it. Be sure to pattern your gun BEFORE going out though. Also, be VERY sure you can see a deer clearly and know your backstop and if anyone else is hunting in that area. We don’t need any accidents any time much less the last day! Otherwise, clip shooting lanes through the area very quietly and use a muzzleloader or slug gun.

These are the last few days of the deer season but there are still plenty of small game and waterfowl season days left. Consider taking a young person with you. It is time we started really trying hard to involve our kids in our lives.

Mark Fike

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