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Days GON By February 2018

Turkeys from Berry College trapped and stocked elsewhere; five-hoofed doe.

Brad Gill | February 1, 2018

Each month we turn back the clock to see what was being reported in the pages of GON, 30, 20 and 10 years ago. Here’s a look back at what appeared in GON.

30 Years Ago: February 1988

Turkey Trapping at Berry College WMA: GON Editor Brad Bailey spent a morning in a ground blind with state Game & Fish Biologist Jerry Bearden in an effort to continue state turkey-stocking efforts. At the time, there were 225,000 turkeys in the state, and 116 of the 159 counties were open to turkey hunting. Most of northwest Georgia had turkeys, but there were still some pockets that needed birds.

February 1988: Game & Fish Biologist Jerry Bearden with a hen turkey trapped off Berry College WMA. Jerry helped restock northwest Georgia 30 years ago.

Not long after daylight, Jerry touched two wires together to set off a cannon net that caught 19 hen turkeys that were quietly feeding on cracked corn. Later on that afternoon, Jerry and Brad released three of those birds in Polk County.

Jerry, now retired from DNR, is an official B&C scorer who helps with GON Truck-Buck scoring and antler scoring at the Outdoor Blast.

20 Years Ago: February 1998

Coyotes Offer New Kind Of Hunting: The subhead to this story read, “Coyotes, new to most of Georgia in the past 10 years, have increased to the point that they offer a new kind of off-season hunting opportunity.” Today, coyotes are a nuisance to most deer managers, and hunting and trapping them has become something that’s turned into a necessity instead of an opportunity. What  a testimony to how quickly they’ve taken over our hunting lands.

February 1998: Tyron Morris said coyote hunting 20 years ago was a great off-season activity. He offered some calling tips in what was one of GON’s first-ever articles on hunting song dogs.

Tyron Morris offered the following calling tips from two decades ago:

• Hunt alone or with no more than one other companion due to the scent factor.

• Use all the precautions of hunting a big buck, and be scent conscious.

• Hunt in and near thick cover and use a large tree to block your silhouette while you stand and play your tune.

• If you sit down while you call, you will find yourself in a compromising position should the coyote approach from the rear.

10 Years Ago: February 2008

Hunter Kills 5-footed Doe: Robby Alley, of Jonesboro, was trying to fill his freezer before deer season was over. It was late morning, and Robby sat looking out across a clearcut on the Double-D Hunting Club in Meriwether County.

“Three does came through, and I shot two out of the three,” said Robby.

When Robby walked over to look at his two deer, he saw what appeared to be another hoof growing at the bottom of the right-front leg of one of the does. A five-footed deer?

“Everybody asked me if I could hear it coming,” Robby joked. “I wasn’t really sure what to think at first. I had never seen anything like it.”

The doe’s additional digit stems from a birth defect called polydactylism.

“This is caused by a combination of a genetic abnormality and a birth defect,” said Charlie Killmaster, WRD biologist. “The defect causes an overstimulation of the tissues at the limb buds during embryonic development. It is unlikely that this trait was inherited from the parents.”

It’s uncommon in whitetails and more common in red deer. As of 10 years ago, the only other Georgia report of polydactylism came from Putnam County. Polydactylism isn’t fatal to deer and doesn’t affect the wonderful taste of venison.

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