Tis the Season: Deer Hunting Season that is

This summer, punctuated as it was by the blustering winds and torrents of Hurricane Irma, has been undeniably hot and wet in the South. But then, what else would you expect from a southern summer? Perhaps no one is more looking forward to the subtle chill of fall than the outdoorsman, and the signs are starting to show that autumn is on its way.

There are subtle signs, like the sun setting just a few minutes earlier or an almost imperceptible dip in the mercury. Or the more obvious ones, like the college football flags hung outside every door and the abundance of camo on every citizen and every UTV being hauled in a pickup’s bed.

It’s this last sign that has the outdoorsmen most riled up. Race cars have a green flag, runner have a starting pistol – deer hunters have camo. It means the season has begun.

 

The Oldest Game

The whitetail deer (odocoileus virginianus) is native to the United States and is found primarily east of the Rocky Mountains. This species has been hunted by native Indians and settlers as a source of high protein/low fat meat for thousands of years.

For most of recorded history, there were no regulations prohibiting the year-round harvest of deer.  The non-stop unregulated hunting pressure nearly decimated the species, bringing their number down to just 500,000 by 1900. It was only then that conscious hunters and state wildlife agencies stepped in to regulate the season, set limits and initiate restocking programs to save the whitetail.

To put it lightly, it worked. Today there are more than 32 million whitetail deer in America, with more than a million in the state of Georgia. The whitetail deer is the most hunted game species in the U.S., and every year more than 12 million sportsmen venture afield in pursuit of them.

For many who live in urban or suburban areas, seeing deer on the side of the road can be a common thing.  In many communities within some city limits, deer are often seen grazing in yards or moving from one wooded area to another.  These animals have acclimated to the human presence and seem to have no fear of humans, since deer are very adaptable to their environment.

Make no mistake, however, that deer living in the wild are far different creatures than those found where hunting is not allowed and natural predators do not exist.  All creatures are born with a survival instinct, and the whitetail deer is certainly no exception.  They have a remarkable ability to hear and smell, and like most creatures their ability to see movement is uncanny.

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