Deer Season Reflections
Joe Schuster | January 3, 2021
Georgia has one of the longest running deer seasons in the country. This allows us to enjoy more neat things in the woods.
On one December hunt, I enjoyed watching a red-tailed hawk swoop down to nab its meal, a large raccoon waddle down a tree and down a trail, a doe with two fawns hopping along and nipping at the remaining food sources left on the ground. A small buck came down that same trail with its nose to the ground. Perhaps it was a hint of our secondary rut.
Speaking of food sources, most of the acorns are gone, so now deer are eating greenery on bushes and the ground. A large group of crows came and hung out in some neighboring treetops for awhile blasting their “caw-caw” sounds for about 30 irritating minutes. But all-in-all, it was a great hunt. You don’t have to shoot something in order to have a rewarding time in the woods. Be safe, have fun and if you do drop a deer, that’s a bonus. You’ll always feel better leaving the woods than when you got there.
As I watched this all play out in front of me during that hunt, I thought about the impact that COVID may have had on the herd in our state. Many hunters have had time off, and with the cost of beef may have hunted harder and possibly led to more deer being killed. Also, I wondered as more land is cleared for new houses and businesses, how that might affect the habitat.
I checked in with longtime friend Kevin Lowrey, senior wildlife biologist for WRD, who usually has some spot-on info on these subjects.
“I think that COVID has definitely put more hunters in the woods,” said Kevin. “We’ll know more about the numbers when we look at the harvest records for this season, but checking in with a few deer processors around the state indicate high numbers.”
I asked him about the habitat changes that I see around my area and the possible impact.
“Landscape changes in urban areas really hasn’t slowed down deer population growth,” said Kevin. “Deer tend to get bunched up in these small wooded lots or green-space corridors where they can feed all night on homeowners’ shrubs and fertilized green grass.”
I would agree. I’ve heard reports from folks who are not too happy with the bushes they just planted serving up as fodder for the local deer herd.
So, let’s round out this deer season by being safe in the woods and maybe take some time to share your harvest. Some folks suffering from the effects of COVID may not be able to get out for groceries. Drop off a couple packs of venison to that neighbor in need or maybe make a crockpot of venison chili or spaghetti for them to enjoy.
One of my favorite treats is to make “deer poppers.” Cut up a piece of backstrap in to 1-inch chunks. Marinate it overnight in the refrigerator in a mixture of balsamic vinegrette and blackstrap molasses. Then stack each cube with a small piece of cream cheese, a slice of jalapeño and wrap with a half a piece of thick sliced bacon. Grill over high heat until the bacon is crisp. Don’t overcook and enjoy!
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