So, a couple weeks ago I wrote that even after a good general firearms opener, the deer kill was tracking behind last year, at least in terms of electronic checking numbers.
This was a bit disconcerting considering that some deer experts (such as DGIF deer guru Matt Knox) had predicted that the poor acorn crop would likely cause an uptick in deer kill because the animals would be feeding in the open, where they are more vulnerable. That prediction certainly tracked with my personal experience during acorn bust years so I was happy to echo Knox’s prediction.
So did my good buddy and skilled wordsmith Bill Cochran. A couple weeks ago, Bill was sheepish in reporting the trend, writing: “Forget about venison, now is the time for guys like me to eat some crow.”
Knox was also perplexed, but told me that he didn’t think that the “mast factor” could overcome the drop in deer population and that he didn’t see the kill “catching up” over the next seven weeks.
Well, it didn’t take seven weeks.
I just got my hands on the most recent electronic checking numbers and last week was simply a blockbuster.
Part of that was due to the timing of the Thanksgiving holiday, which fell during the second week of the general firearms season instead of during the first week. Even so, the kill over the three-day holiday weekend was up 35 percent over the holiday weekend last year.
To be sure, the total kill might not have been up that much because chances are a higher percentage of hunters are using the electronic checking system. Still, the increase in telecheck participation was nowhere near enough to account for a 35 percent increase.
I happily contributed to the figure. On Friday I had time for a short afternoon hunt after work, so I hit a new stand at one of my spots in Bedford County. About 4 p.m. three does and a fawn emerged from the dense woods adjacent to a small field and started feeding in the open. The wind was perfect so I just watched them for about 30 minutes. When it became clear that they didn’t have company with antlers lurking nearby I took one of the two largest does with a 60-yard shot with my Browning A-Bolt .280.
I hunted over a field in Botetourt on Saturday afternoon with my girls and we saw several does but none close enough for a shot. The twins were fine with that because they were freezing by the time the sun went down and were ready to hit the cabin and get some hot chocolate.
Could this rollercoaster of a season yet have one more dive left in it? Sure.
If we get some severe weather that limits hunting during the final two weeks of the season, don’t be surprised if we end up falling short of last year’s total kill of about 215,000.
But, barring crazy weather, I bet the total kill comes in slightly ahead of last year, which is what experts like Knox have said was likely and what wannabe experts like me have been predicting for several months.
Shouldn’t I be just sitting on my hands at this point instead of throwing my opinions out there again? Probably. But I can’t help myself!