Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why we shoot deer in the wild

Here's a letter that came my way from a friend. I didn't observe it so I can't attest to it. But I've known a university professor who tried netting deer from a helicopter and had similar experiences, so I have an idea there's some truth to it.

Why we shoot deer in the wild..

(A letter from someone who wants to remain anonymous, who farms, writes well and actually tried this)

I had this idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up-- 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold.

The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope .., and then received an education. The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer-- no chance.

That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined. The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.

I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual.

Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn't want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder - a little trap I had set before hand...kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite?

They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when ... I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head--almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.

It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp... I learned a long time ago that, when an animal --like a horse --strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away. So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a sort of even the odds!!

All these events are true.. An Educated Farmer

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tell Obama we need jobs, not more expensive cars

Here's a bit of info that just drifted across my desk. I did a little research before I posted this, just to confirm what it is. There really is an Institute for Energy Research, Tom Pyle really is the president, and this is an e-mail action alert he sent out on Friday.

For more information about IER, go to

So here is the alert:

The Obama Administration needs to hear from you. They are working to raise the price of cars and trucks by at least $1,100 per vehicle with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Increasing the price of cars will harm families and make America less competitive economically. America needs affordable transportation, not costly regulation and new mandates.

The Obama Administration wants to require that all cars and trucks to get an average of 35 mpg by 2016. This will be difficult and expensive, if not impossible. The tiny car in this picture only gets 36 mpg. What about all other cars? What about minivans to carry the kids? What about regular-sized cars to get to work comfortably?

What about full-sized trucks necessary for many construction jobs?

President Obama’s plan will be very expensive. Estimates say it could cost the auto industry over $100 billion, harming these already struggling businesses. The Administration claims this mandate will only cost $1,100 per car. But IHS Global Insight found that while the price of small cars may only increase by $1,000, larger cars and trucks will be $5,000 more expensive under a similar plan. Higher car prices means less jobs in the auto industry and fewer car choices for all Americans.

Your voice will make a difference. Send your comments to EPA right now by clicking here.

The Obama Administration claims it wants to regulate carbon dioxide to address global climate change. However, their report shows that this plan will reduce global temperature by a maximum of 16 thousandths of a degree Celsius (0.016 °C) by 2100. That’s not a joke or a misprint. The Obama Administration, according to their reports, wants to increase the cost of automobiles by thousands of dollars to reduce global temperature by a few thousandths of a degree 90 years down the road.

Forward this email to family and friends so we can send a clear message to the Administration that America needs jobs and a sound economy—not more regulations and mandates.

Thank you,

Tom Pyle
President, Institute for Energy Research

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deals for Dog Lovers

Since I write about retail for the most part, I tend to run into a lot of neat products that aren't necessarily all that well known. So since the holidays are approaching, I thought I'd make some lists of items that you might like to find under the tree.

I'm going to start with a list of stuff for hunting dogs, since I have a weakness for any breed that gets out there and works the way a good hunting dog does.

First aid:

One of the best things you can give your hunting buddy is a knowledge of pet first aid. Take Gene King's Pet First Aid & CPR course here in Tampa; he arranges times by request, with a minimum of 10 people. So get your hunt club together and find out what do to if your dog gets hurt in the field.

Creative Pet Products has their basic Bow Ow Kit for around the house, and Sporting Dog and Sporting Dog II kits for in the field. Also check out their book on what to do in emergency, "Practical Pet First Aid for Dogs and Cats."

Ready Dog Products has first aid kits for high performance dogs. And if you ever have the opportunity to talk to Terry Wilson, the owner of Ready Dog, he has a story about an injured black Lab that will make a believer of you.

Ugly Dog Company leans more toward retriever gear in general, but they also have first aid kits.

Protective Gear:

It's not just about what happens after your dog gets hurt, but keeping him from getting hurt in the first place.

Go to FidoGear for all sorts of protective dog gear, including a floatation vest and a belly protector. All FidoGear's products are made in the USA, and are fitted to your dog's measurements.

Ugly Dog Company also has a chest protector and boots. Think boots are just for snow and ice? Get into a field of Florida sandspurs!

And we can't forget Remington, which has a chest protector, an orange safety vest, and bells for in the field.

Whatever hunting buddy you have, don't wait for Christmas--be sure he's protected throughout hunting season from whatever comes along.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

From Hunting Camp to Africa

A while back--a couple of months ago, in fact--I was talking about how I got from writing a simple article on fishing to hunting and fishing in Africa. Then I got sidetracked by a trip to Wyoming.

Now it's finally time to tell the rest of the tale.

When we left off this story, I was talking about the women's hunting camps my friend Galen Geer and I did in Colorado for five years. The first year actually was kind of a test--to see how we hunted together and how we got along on that kind of an expedition.

You see, Galen had another agenda. He had been to Africa that spring to arrange a safari for Soldier of Fortune, and the owner of the ranch where he stayed expressed an interest in having a woman come and write about hunting in Africa. Galen immediately thought of me, but we had never hunted together, and he wanted to know more about what I was made of before he asked if I wanted to go over.

That first hunting camp settled any qualms he had about it. My biggest two issues were--and are--temperature and altitude. I get cold easily, so I have to be careful what I wear and the situations I get into, and I don't adjust well to high altitudes. Neither of those is a big surprise, given that I've lived in Florida all my life!

However, neither one is a problem with African hunting, so it was settled--the following spring I would accompany the Soldier of Fortune safari to South Africa. And as it happened, my 40th birthday was right in the middle of that trip. Not a bad birthday present!

At the conclusion of that trip I made arrangements to bring some women hunters back the next year, and in 1994 did so. I kept on traveling to southern Africa for the next two years--a total of four trips in all--and hunted and fished in a lot of places, sometimes with Galen and sometimes not. But by then I had made my own friends there, and I was pretty comfortable to come and go as I pleased with them.

What ended those trips was becoming a single mother. When my son's dad and I divorced and I moved to Tampa, I didn't have anyone to stay with Chris, so my hunting days came to an end for a while. For whatever reason Chris never got the hunting "bug," so it wasn't something we did together, and I didn't want to force hunting on him if he didn't like it.

I did fish some during those years, mostly on weekends when Chris was with his dad--he doesn't like to fish either. But now that he is 19--almost 20--and can take care of my dogs, I'm starting to travel and hunt again.

So look for more adventures in the not too distant future!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Butch

Here's a bit of nonsense for all my writing and hunting friends. It's not original with me, but I thought you'd enjoy it.


John was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called “pullets,” and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.

He kept records, and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.

This took a lot of time, so he bought some tiny bells and attached them to his roosters.

Each bell had a different tone, so he could tell from a distance which rooster was performing.

Now, he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

John's favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning he noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all!

When he went to investigate, he saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming, could run for cover.

To John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Renfrew County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.

Vote carefully next year, the bells are not always audible.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to work

I'm back in the office today. I was sort of here yesterday, but you know how it is after you've been out a week--it takes you a day just to figure out what you're doing. So now I have to get my head out of snow and hunting and deer and interview someone about his logging business for Timberline Magazine.

OK. Think cutting trees and what kind of equipment he uses.

Are you sure I have to do this?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snowbound in Story (Wyoming, that is)

I'm glad we finished our hunt last night! We had planned to leave where we're staying here in Story, Wyoming this morning, ahead of some bad winter weather. It was a good idea, but one that didn't quite work out. The weather got here overnight, and now we're stuck.

Fortunately, we don't fly out from Denver until Sunday morning early, and the weather is supposed to improve overnight tonight. So we should be able to get home on time.

After we got our antelope on Tuesday, we went back to hunting some of the Walk In Areas (WIAs) right around Story and Sheridan on Wednesday morning. What a mess! If you've never walked in Wyoming gumbo, think of it as red Georgia clay on steroids. Thursday morning it was cold and windy, but the snow and sleet wasn't predicted to start until about 2 PM. The weatherman was a little off on that one, too. By the time we had gotten about a mile back into the WIA we were walking, the sleet started and the top layer of the soil got just wet enough to turn into gumbo. At one point I had about 4 inches of mud on the bottoms of my boots and could only take a few staggering steps at a time before I had to stop and clean off my boots and start again. I thought I would never get down off that hill!

That was the same day we had an epiphany. To put it another way, we stopped by the Wyoming Game & Fish office in Sheridan and I rather randomly asked the right question.

I have to preface this by saying that the Wyoming game regulations are some of the most complicated and arcane regs I've ever seen. At the time Rick put in for tags, he was told the only public land deer tags available were for whitetail, so that's what he got. However, some of the WIAs we were hunting on were private land, and there were still private land mule deer doe tags available.

So early on Wednesday morning we stopped by the Sheridan office and asked if those mule deer tags were valid on the private land WIAs. The answer was yes, so we bought one each. After all, if we happened to bump into a muley doe on the WIA, it would be a shame not to be able to take it because we didn't have the right tags!

Then came that random question: I asked if by any chance Game & Fish had a list of ranches that accepted hunters who were willing to take does instead of bucks. The lady behind the counter handed us a short list of ranches in Sheridan County who were actively looking for doe hunters, and a longer list of ranches statewide who allow hunters for bucks for a trespass fee.

After staggering down off the gumbo mountain, Rick and I decided we'd had enough of that kind of walking. I got on the phone calling ranches on the list we have, and within ten minutes had us lined up for a whitetail doe hunt on Thursday morning with a down-the-street neighbor of Bob's, just four houses down from where we're staying.

"Just don't shoot any bucks," he said. "I have all those sold."

"No problem," we assured him. "We don't even have buck tags."

Another phone call resulted in the rancher's wife telling us they had an outfitter who handled all that, and we called the outfitter. His response was "Do you want to go this afternoon?"

So at 5 PM Wednesday we met Tim Loftus, a guide for Big Buck Outfitters ( and off we went in search of mule deer does.

These boys know their business. We both had our does that evening.

One thing I learned during my phone calling, though, was that althought the ranches don't mind the mule deer--and some would prefer not to have hunters take mule deer does--they surely do hate whitetails. As the rancher's wife said to me, "They eat the hayfields, they eat your flowers, and they'll eat your children if they stand still."

Thursday we spent a fruitless morning plowing through deep snow on the neighbor's nearby ranch in search of a whitetail doe. We saw deer, all right--at 3oo to 400 yards away! Not an ethical shot for hunters who are accustomed to southern hunting, and maximum shots of 150 yards. At least it wasn't gumbo, but it wasn't productive, either, and we knew we had only Thursday evening left to hunt.

So that afternoon we went with Tim again, this time for whitetails. It's truly amazing how many whitetails this country holds. You can see literally hundreds of them in the green fields in a single afternoon, and they mostly ignore vehicles and even people walking. We had another hunter with us this time who took two whitetail does, and still we had all four animals in 90 minutes.

To be fair about it, that kind of harvesting of animals isn't hunting in the true sense of the word. It's much too easy to be real hunting. Nonetheless, I can see why landowners desperately want the number of deer on their property reduced, and if you're meat hunting, that's a simple way to get your venison and work on the population size at the same time.

So now we're waiting for the weather to clear, so we can pick up our venison from the meat processor and head for home.