I knew this day would arrive, and here it is. The hunting lease my family and I have been a part of for the past 15 years has gotten so expensive I can no longer afford to be a member.
1970s – To be on a hunting lease in the 1970s you had to know someone who was a member of the lease. Then that member had to put in a good word for you. A lot of leases had a waiting list of people who wanted to be a member.
2000s – Hunting leases are begging for members.
In the past 30 years we have seen a shift of people who live in rural areas, timber companies have gobbled up land, parents are not introducing their children to hunting, and most importantly, timber companies are being bought up by invest firms.
The great depression of the 1930s saw a shift of people living in rural areas to living in urban areas. The reason for this shift was simple, and that was to find a job.
As the people who were left in rural areas started to die, their property was left to the children who had moved to rural areas. The children who had moved away had no use for the land, so they did not pay the property taxes. Various counties across the nation seized the land for overdue taxes. As the land was auctioned off guess who bought it, the timber companies.
In essence, we allowed timber companies to buy up unwanted land, then charge us for access.
There used to be a time when leasing land was cheap, or at least affordable.
There used to be a time when hunters were left at their own discretion with size limits. Coyotes, wolves and mountain lions are not held to size limits, so why are human hunters held to a size limit?
Which one harms the deer population more, timber companies stripping the land, or shooting a small deer?
While at the deer camp this evening I was told a story of a lady who shot a deer with a 12.5 inch inside spread. She was not sure about the law, so she called the game warden. When the game warden arrived, he wrote her a $750 ticket, and the lady was charged a $750 replacement surcharge. Since when is a 1/2 inch worth $1,500? I guess when the state of Texas says so.
Take your pick:
Option A – shoot a deer that is not quit the legal limit, and risk getting a $1,500 ticket if you take it to the butcher.
Option B – shoot a deer that is not quit the legal limit, and leave it in the woods for the buzzards, maggots, other scavengers and get to keep your money.
To me, no deer is worth $1,500. But the state of Texas seems to think they are worth that much.
What it boils down to is the states want to milk as much money as they can from sportsmen.
With the cost of hunting leases and the cost of public hunting permits going up, I do not know if hunting is worth it anymore. The hunting lease I am on cost around $1,000 a year. That $1k could be better spent elsewhere, such as property taxes. I think I will keep that $1,000 and the cost of a hunting license and raise my own pigs.
Why should we teach our children how to hunt, when the state wants to milk sportsmen for every penny they can get?
Long story short, my dad and I went to the hunting lease, filled up the feeders, bush-hogged the 4 wheeler trails then went home.
Now for the rest of the story, The day started off nice and cool. Here in southeast Texas its takes a little while for the summer heat to wear off. It is not unusual for the first part of November to have highs in the 80s. There have been times when I have been sitting in a deer stand on opening weekend sweating.
On October 4th fall was in the air. A cool front had pushed through a couple of days earlier, which helped bring the temps down to a bearable level.
Dad went to the camp on October 3rd, were he spent the night. The plans were for dad to pick me up in Jasper, then we were going to the hunting lease.
Kristy and I woke up Thursday morning, did our typical morning routine, which includes a shower, brush our teeth, then eat breakfast. While I was eating breakfast, I called dad, he said he was running a little late. I asked dad if he wanted Kristy to fix him some breakfast, he said sure.
Dad showed up about 45 minutes later; Kristy fixed him some sunny side up eggs the hens had laid.
After dad finished his breakfast we went to walmart in Jasper to pick up some deer corn. I tell you what, the price of deer corn has gotten outrageous. A few years ago corn was somewhere around $4.75 a bag, now its almost $10 a bag.
Dad bought 16 bags of deer corn. He had 4 bags in the back of the truck, so there was a total of 20 bags to put in the deer feeders.
Here in southeast Texas we have about 2 weeks until bow season starts, and about 7 weeks until rifle season starts.
Over the past few weeks my wife and I have been going to the lease to spread beans and oats, and to check on the feeders. My family and I have 4 feeders and 5 stands setup. One of the stands is a portable ground blind. The other four stands are on legs and overlook at feeder.
Out of 4 feeders, 3 of them had been knocked over. We suspect wild hogs knocked the feeders over; I hope vandals did not knock the feeders over during the summer.
Today (September 14 2012) my dad and I made a trip to the lease. The purpose of this trip was to check the feeder motors, put fresh batteries in the feeders and put 3 bags of corn in each feeder.
First feeder – is what the family calls the “hog pen stand”. The stand is called “hog pen stand” is because there used to be a hog trap close to the stand. This is one of the feeders that was knocked over during the off season. My wife and I stood the feeder up a couple of weeks ago.
Dad backed his truck up to the feeder, the lid was removed and the inside inspected. As usual there was a good bit of rotten corn inside the feeder. It was leaned over, turned upside down and the spoiled corn was was dumped out on the ground.
Hogs will find the spoiled corn.
The feeder was stood up; the motor was locked up, so we installed a new motor. When the feeder fell over during the summer, the motor housing fell in such a way that it caught water, filled up, and the motor was sitting in water for several months. As a result of the water and the rust, the motor was ruined.
Hunting season is only 2 months away, and that is for rifle season. In some areas of the nation, bow season starts the first weekend of October. The recent droughts have drove up the price of deer corn. What used to cost $4 – $5 for a 50 pound bag, now cost around $10 – $11 for a 50 pound bag.
A lot of people object to the use of wildlife feeders, or even hunting over a food plot. If you object to those kinds of hunting tactics, that is fine. I have no objection to your objection. Just realize that your objection gives you no special privileges or rights.
My family and I hunt on what is called a pine plantation. The timber companies cut down oak trees, strip the land, and replant only fast growing hybrid pine trees. During the stripping process, natural food sources are displaced or even destroyed. Its sad how our forest are turning into nothing more then pine tree gardens. A few years ago the local timber company cut down oaks trees that were at least 75 years old, bulldozed the oak trees into a pile and burned them.
Deer are foragers, kinda like goats. Deer walk around eating weeds, twigs, just about anything they can find. But there are certain food sources that deer like, such as acorns. When the timber companies cut, bulldoze and burn oak trees, what are the hunters supposed to hunt over? We can scout for deer trails, but there is no promise the deer are taking those trails during daylight hours.
In order to replace those lost food sources, hunters will sometimes set up feeders, or plant a food plot.
Deer season is here, instead of grabbing a pack, throwing some random gear in and heading out to the woods, lets take a look at some items that should be considered. The way I look at it, your pack needs to contain everything you need to track a wounded deer, find your way back back to the truck after dark or spend an unexpected night in the woods.
A basic pack – This could be anything from a school book bag, to a good quality pack like a Maxpedition Sitka or Maxpedition Noatak. You need something that is not going to tear apart when your tracking a deer as the last bit of the sunlight fades away. For my current load out I am using the Maxpedition Noatak.
GPS & Compass – When you get off the trail back to the truck, you might need something to help find your way. Or worse yet, if you and your buddies have to track a deer through a thicket in pitch black dark.
Mark the truck before you head out and set the GPS to go back to the truck before you head out. This will tell you how far off the way point is.
Get familiar with your GPS and compass “before” you have to use it. Make sure you understand the difference between heading and bearing, and which one you need to set your compass to.
Learn how to set and read a compass.
If the GPS says you need a bearing of 130 degrees, would you know how to set the compass to 130 degrees in order to find your way to where you want to go?
One of the comments posted to my video about setting up a deer blind kinda struck me. The comment went something like setting up a deer blind was along the lines of deer camping and that I might as well be shooting deer on a deer farm.
I am going to guess that the person posting the comments has never had the opportunity to watch deer in its natural state?
It seems to me that people think deer hunting is easy, that you can sneak up on a deer, and you will have meat on the table. That is about as far from the truth as you can get.
If deer can stay away from natural predators, how does a city slicker think they can walk into the woods and find a deer?
A few weeks ago I bought a bone collector dog house blind from the local china-mart. This past saturday 2 of my sons and I went out to the lease, did some scouting and setup the blind. Rifle season here in Texas starts in 2 weeks. I am getting a late start on the season, but oh well, you do what you have to do.
We followed a creek until we found an oak tree that had a bunch of acorns on the ground and some rubs in the area.
From the oak tree we moved to the north maybe 35 yards and setup the blind on the edge of some underbrush. There is a thicket with a lot of underbrush that opens up to the creek bottom and a pine tree clearing. The blind is setup on the edge.
Water – Texas has been under a terrible drought, probably the worst drought in 50 years. Due to the drought a lot of creeks have dried up, that is why I paid special attention to water.
Food – Due to the drought, a lot of oak trees are stressed and seem to be dropping immature acorns. I was looking for an oak tree close to the creek that was dropping mature acorns. The acorns should attract squirrels, hogs and deer.
Deer sign – with several rubs in the area, I know there is a buck moving around. I did not find any scraps, so rubs will have to do.
Rifle season here in Southeast Texas starts in about 2 1/2 months. As opening day inches ever closer, its time to start thinking about getting ready for the big day.
Check out the deer camp and make sure no vandals have tore anything up during the off season. Sometimes people will go to the camp and mess with stuff. One year a couple of sets of antlers were stolen, another year a shed was broke into and a chainsaw was stolen.
Scout the area where you want to hunt. With the drought this year, any place there is a waterhole will probably be a good location. There is a creek on the lease that almost always has water in it. I am thinking about setting up a ground blind on a hill that overlooks part of that creek. With the drought in its current state, I suspect anything that lives in the woods will be gathering around creeks that have water.
Oak trees – I am wondering how the drought is going to affect this years acorn crop. The oak tree in my front yard is loaded with small acorns, but they are dropping before they are mature. Its like the oak tree is stressed under the current drought.
Sight the rifle in. I need to get a scope mounted and fire off a few rounds pretty soon. The scope I am looking at is the Redfield 3-9X40. My longest shots are usually less then 125 yards, but in low light conditions. Those whitetail deer usually wait until the fading twilight to come out.
Get a new fishing and hunting license after August 31st.
Check the deer stands and make sure all of the wasp are gone.
Spend sometime on the treadmill so that I can walk the hills during the winter.
Get my cold weather clothing out and look it over.
Dig the skinning knife out and make sure its nice and sharp.
Check the existing deer stands for any damage. Sometimes the wind will blow the doors open and damage the hinges. Sometimes the stands will be blown over, and need to be stood back up.
At the end of October I need to pull my pit to the deer camp so we can cook on the opening weekend. Some of the guys will bring a roast, brisket, ribs, or even get a wild hog and cook up a huge meal on the first weekend of rifle season.
I am really looking forward to the 2011 – 2012 hunting season. Not only do I get out in nature, but hopefully we will get a break from this heat. The Texas summer this year has been really bad. Parts of Dallas spent close to 100 straight days above 100 degrees. Jasper and Newton counties have spent 3 or 4 months under a burn ban due to the lack of rainfall.
With the onset of winter, hopefully we will start receiving some rainfall. If these drought conditions persist into the summer of 2012, I do not know what we are going to do. Crops are failing, people are having to sell their livestock off, and we have had 3 or 4 forest fires in the Jasper Texas area.
We are on the final 3 month countdown to the start of hunting season here in Texas. Bow season starts in October, and rifle season starts the first weekend in November. How is the season going to turn out? I have no idea.
My new rifle, a DS Arms SA58 FN/FAL needs a scope. Even though the shots are only about 75 – 100 yards, in the late evening light the sights seem to just fade away. I thought about getting some tritium sights, but for the price of the tritium sights I could get a scope. If the price between the new sights and a scope is “about” the same, why not get a scope. Before I could mount a scope on my FN/FAL, first I had to install a new scope mount, which worked out well.
Hunting season is my favorite time of year, the weather turns off cool, we get a break from the Texas heat, bugs go away, leaves on the trees turn colors and fall to the ground.
There is just something about winter time that can not be described, the quiet and peacefulness of the woods and the wind blowing through the trees. Summer is nice, but I think winter has a certain beauty about it that summer can not touch.
If there is one thing that has me concerned about the 2011-2012 hunting season, it has to be the Texas drought we have been experiencing for at least the past 2 years. The drought is so bad, I was wondering if the oak trees were even going to have acorns this year.
Yesterday my wife pointed out that the water oak in front of my house has baby acorns on it – much to my surprise. This is a good sign, the water oak in front of my house has sprouted thousands of small acorns.
But, this is an older tree, maybe close to 60 or 75 years old. I do not know how the younger trees are doing. In 2010 a willow tree in the back yard died because of last years drought. So I am sure that the trees are still stressed.
In the past 2 weeks we have gotten more rain then in the last 6 months. Maybe the recent rain helped the oak trees start their acorn production? If that is the case, will we get enough rain for the acorns to mature. Only time will tell. I was wondering if the oak trees were going to sprout acorns at all this year due to the drought. We have acorns, now if they will just make something.
For those of you that do not know what this means, Texas has been under a very bad drought for the past 2 years. We are probably 3 or 4 feet below normal rainfall in the pact 2 years.
Its so bad, Lake Sam Rayburn is about 9 feet below normal.
But then again, if the acorns do not make very well this year, maybe the deer will bunch up around other food sources.
The local wal-mart go their deer corn in last week, its almost $9 a bag. I wonder if this is just early season price gouging, or if the price of corn has “really” gone up due to the widespread drought?
At $9 a bag there is no way I am going to be able to afford to have a feeder going. If prices stay like that, I will just have to set a ground blind up next to a creek bottom and play the waiting game.
This deer season, I am thinking about adding a 5 gallon bucket and a boat cushion to my gear list. I can store some snacks and water in the bucket, go into the woods, pick me out a spot overlooking a creek and have a seat. There is one spot that I have in mind between 2 hills that overlooks a nice stream. With oak trees all around there is plenty of food for the deer and hogs.
Last year when I went down into that same creek bottom, I saw all kinds of hog tracks. Maybe I should go back there this year and see what I can get.
Only 3 more months until rifle season starts – August, September and October. Rifle season in my part of Texas starts at sunrise on the first Saturday of November.
Hunting season is my favorite time of year. Not because I get to go out to the woods and shoot something, but because I get to be in nature without burning up with this Texas heat. The weather turns off cool, the deer start moving, the bugs slack up on their blood sucking. Being outside in December is much more enjoyable then being outside in July or August.
Another thing that I enjoy about hunting season is being outside with my kids. When we are walking to the deer stand, or even sitting in the stand, the wind will start blowing, the birds are flying around looking for something to eat. The sun starts to set, the sky turns beautiful colors, the leaves on the trees are a golden color and as the setting sun streaks through the clouds, its a beauty beyond description.
Some of my favorite members with my kids are of when we were hunting.
One year my son and I were sitting in a stand when a doe walks out. I took the shot and thought I had missed because the deer ran into the woods. My son thought the deer was a little further back from where I thought she was. After looking around for the blood trail we found the trail, and were able to find the deer.
Or the time my youngest son got his first deer. I had put my sons rifle on lay-away at a gun store and made payments over the course of 2 months. The day we got the rifle off layaway, we went to the camp sighted it in, then went to the deer stand. Maybe 5 minutes after getting in the deer stand a nice 6 point comes walking out. My son fired off a round, the deer ran maybe 30 feet and hit the ground.
Or the time my daughter and I were sitting in a stand, when the sun was just starting to set a group of coyotes let out a howl. My daughter looked up me with eyes as big as silver dollars and said something like “whats that?”.
Last year on opening weekend, my dad and I met at the deer lease around 5:45am, stood under the stars for a little while and just talked before we headed to the stands.
Hunting is more then about killing something, its about enjoying nature, building memories and enjoying life as life was meant to be enjoyed.
My daughter is about ready for her first deer rifle, but I’am not quite sure which direction I should go. All of my other kids have a Marlin 336 in 30-30. For here in East Texas most of our shots are no more then 100 yards, and she will not want anything with recoil. With these east Texas deer, we are talking maybe 125 – 150 pounds.
I would like to stay away from calibers like the 270, 280 and the 30-06, they have too much recoil. On the flip side the coin, I don’t care for shooting deer with the 6mm or 243 either. The smallest diameter caliber I would go with would maybe the 257 Roberts.
A few of my first options:
Ruger Mini-30 in 7.62X39 – semi-auto, 30 caliber bullet and effective out to our average range of 100 yards. The semi-automatic action will help cut down on recoil, but I’am not real sure of the accuracy. The 7.62X39 does not kick to start with, and the action of the Ruger Mini-30 will just help reduce it that much more.
Marlin 336 in 30-30 – since we have several 30-30s in the family already, ammo will not be a problem. In the past 100 plus years the 30-30 has proven time and time gain to be effective on deer sized game. Mossberg recently came out with a lever action rifle, but I like the idea of having all of the rifles made by the same company. Its nothing against Mossberg, but I have already invested a lot of money into Marlin.
Remington model 7 in 308 Winchester – bolt action accuracy with the effective stopping power of the 308. I first saw the Remington model 7 last hunting season, my nephew used his model 7 to take a couple of East Texas whitetail deer. That 308 and Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt was very effective, to say the least.
It was the last weekend of regular deer season, saturday night. A long time member of the deer lease drives up to the camp, and backs his truck up to the scales. That is usually a sure sign that there is a deer in the back of the truck. They get the doe weighed and are stringing it up to skin when I walk out there.
As the skinning of the deer proceeds, there are a few of us standing around helping and watching. The topic turns to the cost of ammunition and bullet performance.
Like a lot of hunters, I tend to buy the cheapest ammo on the shelf – and that is usually Remington Core-Lokt. Over the past 14,,,, 15+ years Core-Lokt is about all that I have bought and shot deer with. During that time I have had no complaints. There is usually a hole going in and a larger hole going out.
The guy who shot the doe goes on to talk about Remington Core-Lokt and how he has since switched to Winchester softpoints. The rifle the guy used was a 270,,,, I do not remember the exact make or model. After talking for a little while, the person who shot the whitetail deer said that he has not been happy with the performance of the Remington Core-Lokt lately and that he felt it may not be expanding like it should. So he switched to the Winchester softpoints.
Whitetail deer taken with 270 remington
I can say one thing about the doe that was being skinned, there was a massive amount of bruising, bleeding and tissue damage. It was like the whole area where the bullet went through had residual damage to the surrendering tissue.
Doing a mental comparison of the deer that was shot with a 270 and Winchester softpoints, and the deer that my son took a couple of years ago with a Marlin 30-30 and Remington Core-Lokt – the 270 caused more tissue damage – both rifles were shooting 150 grain bullet. The 270 travels at a higher velocity then the 30-30, but the 30-30 is a larger in diameter bullet.
The last day of deer season is tomorrow, and how I dread thee. Like the passing of dusk and dawn, from one day to the next, from spring to summer, from fall to winter, so deer season must also pass away. The does will venture to spring and have their fawns, and I hope to see next season.
Like all other things in life, so deer season has to come to an end. But regardless of the facts, its still a sad time of year.
This deer season has been a good one – my son got a nice 8 point whitetail that weighed in at 156 pounds and my kids and I made several trips to the lease. There was one evening my daughter and I were getting out of the stand, and the coyotes started howling. I thought it was a beautiful music to my ears, my daughter not so much.
Sooner or later all good things must come to an end. Whether its a birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, a fine dinner, a good movie, a good night out on the town,,, sooner or later it has to come to an end. So is life, and so it deer season,
Then there was the doe I missed with my new DS Arms SA58 FAL – those peep sights seem to disappear into the night in low light.
Like a kid before Christmas, I’am off to bed so that I can greet tomorrow in its fullness. For in the stand at 6:00am I plan to be.