Relax… Angst Can Kill The Joy Of Deer Hunting

Daryl Kirby | November 2, 2019

Ever lived in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association?

Thank goodness I don’t. I can’t imagine having someone down the street complaining—maybe even issuing me a fine—because my truck is parked in the yard or because I left my trailer beside the house.

Reminds me of a theory. Goes like this… once someone takes on a position of authority, they feel like they have to do something. And ‘doing something’ usually means forcing some rule, regulation or belief on other folks. This is true on all levels, whether a person is elected to county government, becomes commissioner of their fantasy football league, or when they take control of the neighborhood association.

They need to ‘fix’ something with a new rule or regulation.

It can also be true in the deer woods, whether it’s a heavy-handed hunting club president or a neighboring landowner who is just a little too insistent that their way of hunting and killing deer is the right way or only way.

Don’t get me wrong, we definitely need some rules and regulations in the deer woods. Game laws are not ‘heavy-handed.’ They are the basis of wildlife conservation and game management.

The previous pages in this magazine are a good example. We can’t allow guys to kill bucks whenever they want to (like in July), and we can’t allow them to kill however many bucks they feel like shooting. It doesn’t matter how good of people they might be or how addicted they are to deer hunting. There are game laws for a reason.

We need to trust the science and the professionals who help make our laws and regulations. And if we don’t, then we need to go through the proper process to fix a law or regulation we think is bad or unnecessary.

If your neighbor is killing over the limit or shooting velvet bucks in July, you have good reason to be upset. But if you pass up an 8-pointer and hear a shot 30 minutes later, please take a deep breath and relax before assuming the worst just occurred. It probably didn’t, and if it did, it’s not the end of the deer-hunting world.

When it comes to deer hunting, I worry that the more time and money we invest toward deer, the less our obsession becomes about the joys of hunting, and the more it becomes about worrying and judging what other folks are doing—how they hunt, the weapon they use, the deer they kill.

I know hunters who spend so much energy worrying about their neighbors they are mostly miserable during deer season. Some folks are just like that. But I’ve seen others who grew into a deer-hunting negativity that’s just not fun anymore.

Georgia deer hunting went through an evolution toward more management by landowners and hunting clubs, with a primary focus on growing and killing better bucks.

Personally, I’ve been on board with that management mantra for decades. We plant food plots—hopefully with some rain our plots will soon be lush with greens of all types, the latest and greatest food-plot plants to give deer the maximum nutrition possible. In the spring and summer our feeders are filled with a high-protein mix that improves antler growth and body weights.

I’m not going to stop managing for better deer. It brings me a lot of joy and excitement. But I’ll continue knowing these types of efforts may come with a price for some. It’s not for everyone. My hope for the future is that I never let my passion turn into a negative for myself and those who hunt with me or nearby.

Relax. Enjoy the experiences of each hunt. Soak in the magic of the woods coming alive at daybreak, the excitement of never really knowing what you might see next. Watch the 8-point you decide not to shoot, not with dread that he’ll cross a property line. Watch with the joy of simply encountering that deer, in that moment.

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