How Do You Measure the Success of Your Deer Season?
The Boone and Crockett score of your biggest buck? The pounds of venison you put in the freezer? The number of deer you harvested? The number of days you spent hunting? There are probably as many answers as there are hunters.
The 1995 deer season was certainly memorable for me, though I only killed two does. In fact, my biggest personal accomplishment was the harvest of my first deer with a muzzleloader (my second year to own a smoke-pole). Last year was special because of the success of a friend of mine.
I have made it a personal goal to introduce at least one person to the pleasure of deer hunting every two years. I first went deer hunting with Bill three years ago. At that time, Bill was a gun enthusiast, but not a deer hunter. The first time we shot our rifles together, Bill could not consistently hit the paper at 50 yards with his open-sighted rifle. That experience, plus interaction with other deer hunters, led Bill to purchase an efficient scoped rifle combination prior to the 1994 season. He has now joined a local shooting range and is handloading his own ammunition.
In 1994 Bill shot his first two deer, a yearling buck and a doe, probably hooking him for life and vicariously thrilling those of us fortunate enough to help. During last year's rifle season, Bill and I decided to include our young sons in an evening hunt. I suggested an easily accessible, scenic spot and he and Bill Jr. enthusiastically headed out.
Ryan and I did not see a deer that evening, and after an hour's wait at the appointed meeting place, decided to go look for our friends. When we arrived at their stand, we were greeted by a 6-year-old's wide-eyed description of how his dad had shot a huge deer. Bill's 145-pound 8-point may not have been huge, but I would bet that another life-long deer hunter was forged that evening, as well as a father-son memory that won't soon fade.
This year I have shifted focus to another friend who is the new owner of a local piece of deer habitat and who has had only limited opportunity to deer hunt before. If all goes well, my investment will pay dividends in the management goals of his property, as well as in the life of his young son.
In making plans for the upcoming season, I would challenge you to consider making room in your schedule for a new hunter. If the new hunter is a parent, your investment will likely "split" within a few years. The potential return to the wildlife resource, the future of hunting, and you personally are well worth the effort!