Hunting Lessons From Rich Mountain WMA
Three lessons learned the hard way.
I’m going to share some hunting lessons that I learned the hard way even after 55 years of being in the woods.
My name is Larry Fox, and I live in the mountains of north Georgia near Ellijay. My son’s name is Larry Fox Jr. I am retired after 30 years with the U.S. Forest Service. So as you can see, I have spent a lot of time in the woods. I live adjacent to Rich Mountain WMA.
Several years ago, my son, who was 37 years old at the time, was going to hunt a new area on the WMA. He had found the place during bow season and wanted to gun hunt it. The day before it opened, he wanted to go and hang his tree stand, so I went with him. I wanted to see this place.
When we got there, I knew he had found something special to walk back in that far. There were three ridges about a 100 yards apart running parallel to each other, and they tied into the side of a big and steep mountain. It was absolutely beautiful! He hung his tree stand on the middle ridge about 75 yards from where it tied into the side of the mountain.
I looked over at the ridge on the right, and determined that when we walked in before daylight in the morning, I could cross the holler, drop off the other side, and then move later if I had to.
Rule No. 1: Always know where you are going.
When we went to hang his stand, I took my bottle of Tink’s 69 and put some on a sapling about 50 feet in front of his stand.
The next morning when we got there, the sapling had been stripped. I mean he had peeled all the bark off for about 18 inches or so.
It was time to take off across the holler in the dark and get to my ideal spot. It was getting close to daylight, so I knew I had to get over there pretty quick. I topped the ridge and just on the other side not 20 feet down was the worse laurel thicket you ever did see. You could not see this thicket from Larry’s stand.
After I got down 50 or 75 feet inside the thicket, I crawled right into a good deer trail, which was paralleling to top of the ridge. As it was getting lighter, I found myself in a hurry. So I decided to go out the trail to where it tied into the big mountain, sit down and hope for the best. It did open up into a nice hardwood cove.
I was sitting there grumbling to myself while trying to stop the bleeding from the laurel thicket about the time it was light enough to see.
Rule No. 2: Never, never, ever sit down in a deer trail!
I heard something coming right behind me. Yup, it was a buck. How do I know you ask? Well the deer turned and ran right to my son.
In my mind I was thinking that the morning just wasn’t working out like I had originally planned. I called Larry on the cell phone, and he was getting ready to gut it. I told him after he got that job done, to climb back up in the stand and wait for a while. I told him we would hunt for an hour or two and then drag his deer out.
Rule No. 3: Never tell someone to climb back up and hunt a little longer when you’re sitting there bleeding.
Yup, you guessed it! About an hour and a half later, Ka-Boom!
A nice 8-point was walking around the steep part of the big mountain, which incidentally was heading right toward me. Larry said out of consideration for an ol man like me, he’d save me the trouble of gutting the deer and then having to drag it back over to where he was, so he would just go ahead and take him. Oh that sweet boy!
Well, the moral of that story is I did have a good day hunting with my son, listening to the crunch, crunch sound of deer hooves in the leaves, the sound of gun fire, and I believe even the smell of gun powder. And it was such a thrill of to help drag two bucks that someone else shot a mile from the truck. By the time we got the deer out, my laurel battle scratches had dried up some, and I wasn’t bleeding nearly as bad.
A true account of a good time I had with my son and the lessons learned along the way. Remember to be mindful and know that there are always lessons to be learned when you’re in the woods.
On future hunts, you can bet I’ll always know where I’m going, will never sit in a deer trail, and when we’re more than a mile from the truck and we’ve got a deer down, we’re going to start dragging right away.
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