It isn’t too hard to figure that this will be a year of high deer ‘harvest’. The warm weather insures that. “Why is that?” you might ask. Let me explain. The average deer hunter will sit quietly and wait if he has a sack with sandwiches in it and some of those little chocolate cakes and a thermos of coffee. If he has a cushion to sit on, he will increase the length of time he will sit there.

But if it is 20 degrees, or if it is raining, then some Little Debbie cakes and a thermos of hot coffee doesn’t make a darn bit of difference, he is not going to sit there long, even with a soft cushion. So therefore, when a buck walks by at 10 in the morning, he has been gone since 8:30. That reduces the number of deer killed. But if said hunter is comfy and well fed and the temperature is say, 50 degrees with a calm sunny day, he is liable to be there until nap time, well past noon. That kind of patience results in a higher deer ‘harvest’.

Patience, they say, is a virtue! I have never have had a whole lot of virtue, and patience is the one I have had the least of. I just can’t stand waiting and sitting. I am a hunter, and I do not like the idea of being a sitter and a waiter. Hunters hunt… they sneak around and stalk their prey. I could sit for a while, and often do for an hour or so. It is easy to wait if you have about a half dozen of those cakes and fried pies, but I can’t have them on account of I can’t eat sugar. Carrying a backpack full of jerky and crackers and Vienna sausage isn’t my idea of a picnic!

But just because patience is a virtue, I can’t imagine impatience being a fault. Being impatient makes a really good muzzle-loader hunter and that’s what I am anxious for, in December when you have to walk to stay warm.

 I still maintain that bottled deer scent is not likely to bring a deer-hunter better opportunities. In this day and time, due to the unlikeliness of game wardens patrolling the woods, driving between the trees through the far-away reaches of the woods in a new MDC pick-up, there are lots and lots of deer killed over bait way back in the woods. The smart thing for a person to do if he wants to hunt over bait is to plant himself a patch of corn somewhere. Corn grown in a patch of ground off in the middle of nowhere is not considered to be bait, and while it is likely that your yield per acre isn’t going to be great, it doesn’t have to be for it to attract deer.

But I still maintain that if you can come up with a bottle of liquid that smells like corn you would have something better than the scent you buy from the sporting goods store that may or not be goat urine! A friend of mine who is a big time deer hunter has often told me that he thinks someone who buys doe pee is dopey.

A couple of weeks ago I was visited by taxidermist Brad Coulson from Iowa. Brad is a very knowledgeable outdoorsman who lived on a farm in Iowa in his boyhood. When I first met him about 30 years ago, Brad had a pet buck that he kept for years. He said that if you put a pile of corn out in one place and a couple or three cigarettes a few feet away his buck would eat those cigarettes first. “He absolutely loved any type of tobacco,” Brad said. “He got to where any visitors that gave him a cigarette would have a hard time getting away from him.”

That is something for a deer hunter to remember. If you pile up cigarettes or cigars in the woods from mid-September to mid-November, who could say you were baiting deer? Even if a conservation agent walked back into your woods, which is really a stretch, he couldn’t say you were hunting over bait. You could say you just emptied the top drawer of your Uncle Buford’s hope chest, who was a chain smoker who recently died of lung cancer!

A buck that is after a doe is about the easiest of quarries because he pays little attention to anything else. Once, many, many years ago while I was sitting on a log off in the woods eating one of those Hostess snowballs, (you know, the inside is chocolate cake with a kind of marshmallow covering) a doe came running through the woods and I shot her and dropped her in her tracks. Now folks, I swear this is the truth… a ten-point buck came running after her and ignored me and the shot, and ran right up to her which was his final romantic act on account of, I had two deer tags.

I have never felt good about that, and wouldn’t do that today for anything. For one reason, a ten-point buck is not good for venison Parmesan because his meat is fairly tough. And as I remember, I dropped the other half of that cupcake and stepped on it in my excitement. If I could have a Hostess snowball today I wouldn’t trade it for the biggest buck in the woods! And too, I recall being a little like that buck, back when I thought the chances of ever finding a wife was really slim. There may be other young hunters out there who are like that, and while it hasn’t got a thing to do with deer hunting, my advice to them is, do not chase any of them… BE PATIENT!!

On local television station the evening before opening day, they showed a photo of two mule deer. Then a Missouri Department of Conservation spokesman who never hunted deer in his life, talked about making sure of your target! It looks as if any television station could beat that with a real story about something important to hunters of today. But at least they didn’t come up with an outright lie. The Springfield newspaper printed a little story on Chronic Wasting Disease and said that ‘no one has ever died from eating deer with the disease’, which is a blatant untruth. Hunters HAVE died from it!!

In humans, that disease is called Jacob-Kruetzfeldt disease and it is always fatal to humans who fell victim to it. What the deniers have going for them is that you cannot prove what animal gave it to them… was it a deer, a cow, an elk or a goat? I have talked to folks who lost relatives to the disease and they had no doubt how their loved ones got it. I would like to see the media talk to them, but it will not happen as long as the MDC doesn’t want deer hunters to get worried. Fewer deer hunters buy fewer deer tags.

In another time, the media couldn’t get along with cover-ups and denials of the truth. It isn’t that way now and there isn’t a single Ozarkian that doesn’t know it. My daughter is a doctor and she told me she saw a man when she was finishing medical school in Columbia, Mo. who died from that disease. The disease is a huge mystery right now… like nothing anyone has seen, and something no doctor seems to be able to precisely define.

But there is no doubt about one thing, human greed created it, and here in Missouri, pen-raised deer are STILL being fed meat and bone meal. Deer and elk and cattle are not carnivores… they do not eat meat! God made them herbivores. And in that meat diet is the origin of what they call Chronic Wasting Disease. Why is that kept covered up?

We still have a hundred or so of our fall issue of the Lightning’ Ridge Outdoor Magazine. To get a copy, write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email lightninridge@windstream.net