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On Tuesday, Sept. 9, I went to do some preseason scouting for deer as I had not spent much time afield this year. I wanted to scout some public land as this is an area that everybody has access to instead of private where access is restricted.
I went to part of the Mark Twain National Forest in northeast Oregon County. This area has been part of our hunting territory for many years as my dad, uncle, and grandfather started hunting there back in the mid-1950’s and our family have hunted the area on and off ever since. I started at their old camp site and hiked from there about three miles south to an old pond that I have archery hunted on and off for the last 30 years or so. I was looking to see if the bucks were doing any pre-rut scraping yet or how heavy they were watering at the pond.
A friend of mine, Jeff, and I started our hike about 9 a.m., so we didn’t expect to see much more than sign, but I took my atlatl just in case I had the chance for a throw at a squirrel, and besides it would give me the chance to “kill” a few rotten stumps and logs and get the feel of unmeasured range. We saw a lot of squirrels, but none that wanted to risk an accidental hit, but little in deer sign on our way to the pond. There seemed to be a fair acorn crop, which would justify the amount of squirrel, but where we were there wasn’t a huge crop.
As we started getting close to the pond there is a ridge that is normally loaded with early season scrapes, but none yet. It is a little early for scrapes, but I have seen them a lot of times in mid September in the past, but this is still the first week. When we arrived at the pond I was expecting to see a lot of fresh tracks, but there were only a few with none looking to have been made in the last couple days.
I was feeling a little down when we thought we heard something run off. When we walked in that direction and decided to sit on a log a few minutes for a rest before starting back, we discovered a fresh deer bed that we had just jumped one up from (so much for no fresh sign).
It’s getting near deer season, and we are all (at least deer hunters) beginning to get excited about our time of the year, even more than football season. We should all keep in mind that it is us, the hunters, (in Missouri alone) that not only assist in controlling overpopulation of deer, which helps in keeping a healthy herd, but through permit sales account for around $33 million per year to our conservation department, another roughly $29 million in kickback on the taxes of sporting equipment. In addition if we estimate 40 pounds of some of the healthiest meat we can eat per deer and 271,887 deer harvested last year in Missouri, there would be 10,875,480 pounds of meat on our tables. Then if we add in the jobs that depend on our hunting and fishing in Missouri, we have only scratched the surface of the benefits we contribute to when hunting season starts.
To be honest though, as I stood in the camp site my grandfather, father, and uncle shared some 60 years ago, none of that mattered; it’s deer season or at least will be in only days. It didn’t matter that they were hunting with rifles and shotguns and I will be carrying a bow or atlatl (at least until that magic weekend in November). All that mattered is that we will get to start that one-on-one match against one of the greatest competitors in the world, and if we are the victors we will be rewarded with some of the best meats in the world on the plate, maybe a trophy mount on the wall, and stories (just like my dad told up until his death at almost 98) to tell to our kids and grandkids for years.
We hope to be doing some more articles in the future, and we will be discussing how to care of your trophy to assure a good mount. As well as some tactics that have worked well for me in the past and may work well for you.
Remember that Missouri archery season begins Sept. 15 until Nov. 14 and then Nov. 26 until Jan. 15. Arkansas archery season begins Sept 27 and runs until Feb. 28. Be sure and check with the Missouri Department of Conservation or the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for regulations and bag limits. You can find those on the agency web sites.
I hope you enjoy this article, and if you have questions or comments contact us at Kosh Trading Post, 417-280-6304. — David Lohr, Taxidermist, Kosh Trading Post.