It’s that time again in Georgia and, I guess, most of the Southeast: its deer season! It’s that time when normally sane, rational thinking, hard working, and reliable men, women, and children are prone to do some things they normally would only do if someone was pointing a gun at them. For example, getting up at 4:30 in the morning when its 28 Degrees and going out to sit in a deer stand in the woods all day, freezing their butts off. Climbing up a slick, poorly constructed tree ladder to sit on a 2′ wide hard seat for hours without moving. Of course, today they have the store bought climbing stands and shooting houses with propane heaters. But you get the drift.
If you go out in the woods much in Georgia you will see the remains of a tree stand built up on the side of a tree with some very large nails and 2 x 4’s and 2 x 6’s for a seat. There will be some very rickety 2 x 4 steps nailed to the tree that served as a way to reach the stand and put the life and limbs of the climber in serious jeopardy but that was the risk for getting a trophy buck, or a spike buck, or a doe on doe day. There were some who took aluminum ladders, in the dark, to their favorite tree and stand. But it wasn’t always that way.
Growing up in Crawford County did not afford any deer hunting opportunity. I never saw deer in the county and never saw a deer track until sometime in the mid sixties. A deer track was big news before about 1962. I do not have information on when the first “Deer Season” was in Crawford County.
Although Georgia undertook deer stocking starting in 1928, that was for a few selected counties. Crawford County (Sandy Point) was stocked in 1962 with a grand total of 23 deer. Other Middle Georgia Counties were also stocked: Jones Jasper and Putnam got 143 deer in 1944 and more in 1947. Houston County got 22 in 1962 and Harris and Talbot got 33 in 1958. Stocking of deer was ended in Georgia in 1992 and there were an estimated 1,000,000 in the state in 2004. How many deer have been struck by cars in those years? Countless. I’ll bet State Farm would have an idea!
Many of these counties had thousands of acres of woodlands owned by timber and pulpwood companies as well as private owners. In Crawford County Georgia Kraft and Armstrong owned several thousand acres and these were prime deer habitat. The same in Jones and Putnam where Continental Can Company owned thousands of woodland acres.
When deer season did arrive in Georgia for the first time, just about every person I knew that went deer hunting had a Winchester 30-30 and a few had World War I and II guns. The brands, calibers and price ranges of guns now would boggle the mind. And if you want to get into a big debate, openly declare that your gun, type and caliber is THE best one. Every deer hunter has to have a deer gun and maybe more than one.
Deer hunting for some is a second religion and for others it is their only religion. I don’t remember the first time I went deer hunting but I remember the last time. It was a Saturday morning and sleeting when I met Bob and we drove on to the Krystal on Vineville Ave. in Macon to have breakfast with Richard. We would then continue on to Round Oak to spend the day. I looked at Bob and asked, “Do you feel as stupid as I do?” He of course had no idea what I was talking about.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“I was sleeping real well when that clock went off and I did not have to get up today for anything. Here I am riding down Vineville Ave, its freezing cold and sleeting at 5:00 in the morning to go deer hunting.”
He responded, “Yeah, but you love it!”
“I have always loved it but this is my last trip,” I said. And it was.
I still have my Remington. The other guns are gone. The .308, the old converted military 30.06 and others that came and went. Today, I get excited when my grandson gets himself a big nice buck on their place up in Tennessee. I even helped plant a few seeds and put up a shooting house up there. But I’m past wanting to shoot one and about as close as I come is seeing one by the road. It will probably sometime long after 5:00 AM and I will have had my second cup of coffee by then. A deer track just isn’t as exciting as it was in 1962!
JC © 2017