The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 25, 2012

More to deer season than shooting a big buck

By Clint Ferguson
For The Register-Herald

BECKLEY — I love November as it’s the month for deer. The whole month revolves around strategizing and hunting deer. The testosterone is flowing high in rut-crazed bucks and you just never know when one is going to come running by.  

By now many hunters have spent a full week in the woods as the 2012 buck season is in full swing. While some are sitting at home or hunting camp with big smiles on their faces after tagging a nice buck others are still out there waiting for one to come by. The bigger bucks are easily spooked at this point and tend to congregate in areas with thick underbrush, steep terrain, and those places that others haven’t ventured into.

There are still several hunters in the woods so it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen at any given second. Deer can easily be spooked from adjoining properties and come running your way at any minute. I try to take this into consideration and set up in travel corridors where deer are likely to cross. I determine which directions other hunters come in and use that to my advantage. I also make sure I’m careful in trying not to spook deer their way and tend to stay away from the property line.

Instead I find a thick area near the middle of the property and stay put there.  I know there’s been a couple times in the past when I have jumped a deer only to watch it go out of sight and then here a shot ring out. It can be frustrating but that’s part of it. Buck season can get crazy sometimes.

Another place I like to hunt in the latter part of the season is a hillside that was timbered several years ago. I’ll slip slowly along the old logging roads watching and listening closely for any sign of movement. I also have a couple spots at the edge of this thick cover where I’ll take up stand. One thing is for sure, once the guns start cracking those bigger bucks will go in search of cover.

There’s so much more to deer season than shooting a big buck, although it does make it better. The smell of wood smoke fills the air as this is the time to gather at hunting camp for a week of deer hunting and story telling. Waking up before daylight and returning back from the woods after dark is the norm for the week. At least for me it is. My family often tells me that they believe the rut has just as much effect on me than it does the deer. I like to pack a lunch and stay out there all day because you just never know when that big buck may come your way.

Buck season is also a time when many West Virginia natives that have since moved away venture back home to spend time with friends and family. Many head to the old farms and hunting shacks to spend countless hours sitting patiently waiting for that big boy to show himself. Stories from past deer seasons are told and relived.  I’m sure there were plenty of new memories made this past week.

For those hunters still searching for a big buck like me, there’s still a whole week of hunting left. You just have to change tactics a little at this point and focus and the thicker cover. The does are still in heat and the bucks are more than ready to mate. I’ve had luck hunting during the second week of buck season as the deer will somewhat calm down a little after the barrage of blaze orange hunters have thinned out.

The 2012 buck season ends on Dec. 1. Don’t get discouraged if a big buck doesn’t come your way as there’s still time left to fill the freezer with a couple of does. Hunters should note that there has been a change in the regulations this year with muzzleloader season coming in the week following the end of buck season.  

In years past antlerless season would run for a week after buck season and then muzzleloader hunters would get their chance. This year the antlerless season and muzzleloader season have switched weeks. The 2012 muzzleloader season runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 8.  

Another change in the regulations concerning the 2012 antlerless season is that’s it’s been shortened from a week to 3 days, taking place on Dec. 13 to Dec. 15. There’s still the split season and one last chance to take a doe on Dec. 28 to Dec. 31. Hunters should be reminded that antlerless deer can be taken this week, Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 in counties open to antlerless season.  

All you can do is keep after it until the season runs out. Good luck, hunt hard, and stay safe until next time.