Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deer Season

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shotgun season for deer hunting started at dawn yesterday. Here in the boonies of southeastern Ohio that means woodlands dotted with blaze orange and a regular tattoo of gunshots throughout the day. Our part of the state swells in population with the addition of thousands of hunters coming down to Ohio's most deer-rich corner. We have huge chunks of Wayne National Forest here as well as big parcels of state game land, recovered strip mine acreage, and private hunting areas.

This time of year it's wise for everyone to wear blaze orange.

I don't hunt myself, but I have to follow the hunting season fairly closely. As someone who likes to walk in the woods—80 acres of which I own—I can't go out during the next two weeks without wearing blaze orange. Each year our local news carries reports of accidental shootings of deer hunters. It's not worth risking an accident. Even though my land is well posted with No Hunting and No Trespassing signs, I know that I've had hunters taking deer—or at least stalking them—on my land most years.

The worst was about five years ago, when, a week after deer season was over, I found a huge buck dead in my east valley, in the bed of the stream. His antlers had been sawed off and the carcass left to rot in the water. I made a sign labeling this as the site of a poaching with an invitation for the hunter to come clean by calling me. Never heard a peep. Just like I never heard the shots when he poached the buck. There are so many shots around us during deer season that it's impossible to determine what's on our land or not. I guess I'm used to the sound now, so unless I SEE a hunter cutting across my field or through my woods, obviously trying not to be seen, I just let it go.

Buck on the first day of deer gun season.

Most of the hunters I've had to go talk to have been very polite about leaving and apologetic about trespassing. Here in southeastern Ohio, with our old farms, thick woods, and rugged terrain, it's really hard to tell where the property lines are. So we exchange a few friendly words and I wish them luck as they trudge off in the right direction. If they shoot a deer and it runs onto our land before expiring, they know they can come get it.

It's not my neighbors and the local hunters I'm concerned about. They know me and, more or less, where the property lines are. And most of them have their own places to hunt—they've probably been hunting them for years. It's the hunters "from away" that worry me. They may not know anyone living near where they are hunting, or where their houses are. And this may be the only weekend of the year that they are outside with a gun.

I don't post my land against hunting because I am anti-hunting. I just feel like there should be some place where there isn't hunting during deer season. Seeing what the trespassing hunters have left for us over the years: rotting deer carcasses, gut piles, Skoal cans, Gatorade bottles full of human urine, beer cans, and hundreds of plastic and metal shotgun shell casings, I'm not sorry that my land is off-limits.

Still alive two minutes later. Hunting is not actually legal until an hour before dawn--about 5 am.

That's life in the country, babe. It's not all cute baby bluebirds and amber waves of grain. There are times when you are tested by the circumstances of living in a rural setting. Then again, I've lived in some of the largest cities in the world, and I still choose to live here in the back of beyond.

I wouldn't have it any other way.


On December 2, 2008 at 6:26 PM Anonymous said...

I think hunting deers is awesome.
You oughta try it.

On December 2, 2008 at 7:14 PM dAwN said...

I agree that you should post your land as no trespassing..I like the idea of some safe haven..
Sorry to hear that there are hunters that leave behind such a mess.

I did a blog recently on duck hunting...my husband and I were out birding and the hunters were coming in with their..buffleheads etc. I had a hard time with that...

but again I do eat chicken, turkeys...I try to buy free range..but still i don't usually think about it being an animal. Well, I think it might be time for me to become a vegetarian...

anyway..thanks for the good, thought provoking blog..

On December 2, 2008 at 8:24 PM Erik said...

I have a friend who owned about 80 acres quite close to where BOTB calls home. We used to put on blaze hats and vests and go for a walk in the woods during gun season. The property was well marked with "No Trespassing" and "No Hunting" signs. Every year we'd chase hunters off the property.

One year we were walking through an area when we spotted a hunter running through the woods. He was sprinting toward the road that was the edge of the property. We couldn't catch up to him and only got a glimpse of his truck as he sped away. Backtracking his path, we found his tree stand, safety line, ladder, thermos (still full with coffee), lunch, rangefinder, binoculars, backpack with assorted gear, and spare ammo (30 shells?!?!?!).

We disassembled everything and took it back to the cabin and called the sheriff. The deputy who came out said it looked like abandoned property to him and said we could do whatever we wanted with it. You have to love rural law enforcement and their earnest desire to avoid paperwork We gave the deputy the slugs for disposal. Everything else went on E-Bay when we got back to NE Ohio. We estimated the retail price of everything was around $1600. We made a little over $300 during the auctions and donated the binoculars to Birders Exchange. It was one expensive lesson for that hunter.

On December 3, 2008 at 7:59 PM Beverly said...

I don't mind hunters...hunting where they belong. When I had my 40 acres, gated and high...where a few folks came in the summer and the wildlife was left alone most of the time. Yes, some hunted...but myself and a couple down the road were the only ones who lived there full time.

And the hunters regularly hunted where they do NOT belong. As did friends of theirs. They'd tell their buddies nobody lived up there...and I'd even hear them in the woods; but I never found 'em. Like you...just their garbage.

I cannot believe most of them don't know they are hunting in a NO-HUNTING zone. They like that.

On December 4, 2008 at 8:03 AM RuthieJ said...

That's a really nice looking buck. I hope he was able to hide out somewhere safe during the day.
Mr. Johnson and I are lucky to have permission to bowhunt some good private land. But once shotgun season opens here in Minnesota, it's like a "free for all" and it seems as though many of the hunters have lost their ability to read and comprehend the words "No Trespassing" and "No Hunting." Makes me crazy that people become so disrespectful and a landowner (plus family members and pets!) have to wear blaze orange to take a walk in their own private backyard!