Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
The week of Thanksgiving always had a special meaning for me when I was a kid. No, I seldom thought of spending the day giving thanks for anything, although I was grateful for what I had. My celebration was much less profound than that. It was a day I got to eat a lot of turkey and dressing, which the family served once a year. It was also a day when I got to go duck hunting in the morning then turn around and spend a couple of hours chasing rabbits and pheasants until dinner was served in the early afternoon. That’s the way I celebrated the holiday for many years and in the process built vivid memories that I can play back in great detail if I let my mind wonder a bit.
Although I approach Thanksgiving differently today, I’m sure there are those who look forward to the long weekend and spending time hunting with family and friends. Around here, some might be hunting waterfowl since the second part of the north-zone duck and goose season opens November 18. Only geese can be hunted in the south-zone when that season opens on Thanksgiving Day. The second part of the south- zone duck season opens later in December. As far as rabbit and pheasant hunting in this part of the state, finding a handful of hunters pursuing this activity would be a miracle, at the very least, unusual. For the most part, instead of hunting on Turkey Day, the preponderance of Ohio hunters will be focusing on the gun season for deer. That means they’re getting ready for the big day which happens on the Monday after the big holiday weekend.
There is no doubt that deer hunting is the most popular of Ohio’s hunting activities. Depending on the year, roughly 450,000 hunters will be in the field sitting in a tree stand or ground blind waiting for a deer to walk by. Others will be hunting in small groups or packs of various sizes trying to drive deer to other waiting hunters. This tactic is quite common in flat, sectioned farmland. Regardless, depending on the method, deer hunters can be successful with little experience and even less knowledge about their quarry. A hunter-orange coat and a good slug gun makes an instant deer hunter but quite often, not a very good one. Thank goodness not every deer hunter with a permit is skilled. If that were so, there wouldn’t be a deer alive in the entire state. This is especially true since there is a six-deer limit in Ohio if all of the permits and special hunts were taken advantage of. As it is, only 1/3 of Ohio hunters bag a deer every year. The number of hunters who take six deer would be statistically insignificant.
It’s generally accepted that hunting is a highly efficient management tool when done properly. Since deer hunters will be so obvious to the public because of their numbers and the bright hunter orange that identifies them, being proper in the field becomes a necessity. Although many hunters focus on just filling a tag, there should be more to it than that. Most hunters aren’t subsistence hunters and could survive quite well without a supply of venison in their freezers. As far as having bragging rights around the campfire for making a kill, that should be done very carefully. You might be able to take pride in bagging a trophy, assuming your success wasn’t just dumb luck. At the same time, don’t sound off too loudly about your success if the deer you bagged barely fills a large skillet.
Hunters need to follow a set of ethics to help insure the future of hunting. That’s a responsibility all of us who claim the title need to fill. Obey the laws. They’re well thought out and serve a purpose. Respect your quarry. If you’re going to harvest an animal, make it quick and efficient. Also, use the meat. Cooking and eating wild game is part of the hunting process. Respect others. This includes property owners, other hunters, and even non-hunters. You don’t necessarily have to agree with someone to be respectful. That concept might not be too popular today, but it pays dividends in the long run. There has to be an element of fair chase. Some say having a gun takes away all fairness. Most hunters know that a gun doesn’t guarantee success. A wise old buck has made fools out of hunters more than once. That’s how they get to grow old.
Thanksgiving will be over before we know it and the deer season will open with a bang…excuse the pun. I don’t expect to spend much time, if any, trying to bag a deer this year. Occasionally, I put on the hunter orange, throw a couple of slugs in a shotgun, and take a walk down in my woods. There’s always a chance that other hunters will drive one by me. If that happens, I’ll probably only take a shot if the deer stops, leans against a tree, and lights up a cigar. An animal that stupid needs to be taken out of the gene pool.