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franklin county times

Whitetails provide meat and trophies

By Staff
Mike Giles / outdoors writer
November 5, 2004
With an abundant deer population in most of our state, many people have come to depend on the succulent venison steaks, sausage and hamburger to supplement their regular diets. While deer have less fat content than cattle, they also provide outdoorsmen with a tasty alternative to beef.
While growing up in the seventies we hunted for meat for the supper table. An added attraction to harvesting deer was the trophy antlers that hunters got as a bonus. However, the size of the antlers was more of an afterthought to most of us youngsters.
Back in those days you just didn't shoot a doe. Of course it was illegal. But more than that, everyone strictly abided by the law. It seemed you could come more near shooting somebody and getting away with it than shooting a doe. Doe shooting was perhaps the biggest sin one could commit in the outdoors. If you were caught with an illegal doe you might even lose your vehicle, weapon and hunting rights. Everyone was dead serious about following that law!
Valued trophies
With the population on the upswing and female deer off limits, harvesting a buck was big news and was surely a time for celebration. Back in those days we didn't have any green fields or food plots to attract deer, so it was really difficult for a youngster to harvest a buck. Most of the time the bucks were running at breakneck speed and offered hunters only a fleeting glimpse while they headed for parts unknown. I hunted for five years without ever spotting a buck. I was beginning to wonder if there was such a thing as a buck. While hunting near Daleville, I hunted and spotted herds of does ranging from four to eight.
Finally, late one afternoon I "laid eyes" on the biggest deer of my life. The buck followed about fifty yards behind eight does. After a well placed shot brought the buck down, I almost flew to the trophy buck. Those antlers were truly a sight for sore eyes. I had tried to put antlers on every deer I had seen, without success until then. Now that magnificent buck only had eight-inch spikes, but it was a trophy for me. (Spikes were legal back then, just as they are in Alabama today.) It will forever remain a part of my deer hunting lore and memory.
Many of my young deer hunting compadres had the same dream as I and that was to harvest a buck, any buck. And when you did get that buck it was celebrated, regardless of size. Nowadays I've seen grown men get onto youngsters for shooting a small buck, even when it's their first deer, or best buck! To me there is just something wrong with that.
The anticipation that we enjoyed just knowing that we had the chance to harvest anything with antlers was very great indeed. My "trophy spike" was harvested on Christmas Eve. I purchased an additional tag a couple of days later and harvested a real trophy the day after Christmas in Webster County. That deer sported a seven point rack and had me flying really high.
With our liberal buck limits during the late seventies and eighties we enjoyed what may have been the glory days of deer hunting in Mississippi as far as numbers go. There wasn't as much competition for hunting areas and not near the pressure on the deer as there is now. Perhaps the biggest treat however, was just knowing that any time you entered the woods you might have a chance to harvest a buck, and many times we did.
Eye of the beholder
Now I know that a lot of veteran hunters have become "trophy hunters," and I enjoy harvesting a nice buck as well. However, in many areas the bucks don't grow as large as in some areas such as in the Delta, or in the prairie lands near Macon. In my opinion, a trophy is truly measured in the eyes of the beholder. If that buck is legal and you want to harvest him, then enjoy your venison and your memory.
As for me, I'll admire any buck that is harvested legally, regardless if it make the Buckmaster's or Boone and Crockett books. I'll be on the look out for a "monster buck" but I won't turn down a nice fat succulent buck that will provide some tasty venison for the supper table.
Ultimately each hunter must decide what his or her definition of a trophy is. The important thing however is to decide what you will be satisfied with and then go about harvesting such an animal. You will be glad you did, I guarantee.

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