Haven’t killed a deer yet this season? Blame the weather
For some reason Mother Nature does not seem too happy with us hunters this year. September rolls around, the early seasons open for migratory birds, temperatures were hot and the ground was dry, very dry.
The abundant rainfall we had in the spring and early summer disappeared, and hunters who normally make food plots in the late summer were waiting for rain.
October arrived, and the real hunting season as here — what we all have been waiting for — and there was still no rain, and it was still unseasonably hot.
Deer seasons opened in the early rut areas, and a few hunters saw success. Then, as the Area 2 primitive and gun season arrived, suddenly dark skies appeared and the rain began to fall.
And fall it did: three consecutive weekends of rain.
Now the weather people are saying this year is in the Top 10 of all-time wettest years for Louisiana.
I cut the dove field back in late August. The seed from the sunflowers germinated, and I produced a second crop of sunflowers; in the middle of November I had beautiful sunflowers ready to be cut and put into flower arrangements.
The turnips and mustards that were looking pretty good were drowning in the rain water.
At the end of November we finally had a freeze in some parts of the state.
The gun season in Area 4 opened on Nov. 21, but you had to keep the Thermacell on full throttle or else be carried away by these insects. Enough is enough Mother Nature: Give us some real hunting weather. Whatever we have done to make you upset, we are sorry — so please let the weather in January be chilly and cold, with cold fronts sweeping across the state and lasting for four or five days.
At least until the end of deer season.
If you had not killed a deer by late November, you were probably not alone. Last year, according to LDWF, the deer kill was lower than ever.
I suspect this year it will not look any better. November is the peak month for deer harvest in Area 2, but the reports I received indicates it was pretty slow.
My friend Ken Mason up in Benton killed a 6-point on his lease. Another friend, Dick Hughes, killed a very nice 8-point on this same lease. My brother in law in Webster Parish has killed several deer.
The old farts in Union Parish had a good hunt despite the weather, and killed a couple of deer and one armadillo.
Larry Savage then proceeded to host his nephew on a hunt a few days later, and Kenny Paul killed some choice venison.
Eighteen years ago Kenny was working on the Plaquemine police force and was shot in the head. Although he is disabled, he still can hunt with the aid of modern technology, and Uncle Larry works hard to make sure he has success.
We should all take a page out of Uncle Larry’s book about giving back to family and friends.
Warm temperatures and heavy rain have made for tough hunting this year — at least through late November.
The weekend of the primitive season in Areas 1,4 and 6 was the best weather weekend to date. I was able to connect with a hog on Pearl River WMA, and my good friend Mark Bible got some pork a few days later.
However, the following weekend was the opening of the regular gun season and, of course, more rain fell from the sky.
On the Moreland tract deer, activity for the primitive season had been good, but I had not hunted the property yet. My son, Ruffin, who had to work during that week, was off for the gun opener so I had tried to keep it quiet for him.
He was in the stand prior to daylight, and right at daybreak the rain started falling, and it did not stop too often. The deer that had been feeding 20 feet from the stand all week, including some racked bucks, did not put in an appearance during the six hours he hunted.
He did learn that if you strapped that Thermacell to your arm it would keep the mosquitoes away and would not interfere with the shooting, which wasn’t an issue anyway.
No doubt, hunters elsewhere met the same fate as my son and the harvest on the weekend for a major deer opener will probably reflect the lack of harvest.
Weather has a dramatic effect on deer movement, and prior to Thanksgiving the weather we were dealt made for tough hunting and poor deer movement.
The cow oak acorns were falling at Pearl River WMA when I wrote this column. Acorns had been on the ground for several weeks, and as previously reported in this magazine there is an abundant acorn crop this year.
This will also impact hunter success because most hunters focus on feeders and food plots, and when acorns are on the ground the sightings fall off at these hunting locations.
Hunting the food source is another key for hunter success so adjust your hunting location and move to the acorns.
The rut appeared to be later than predicted this year. I have Area 2 genetics on our small tract, so the early season is important to us.
Because of the very hot weather I did not bow hunt at all in October. Photographs of buck activity were absent, for the most part; one buck with a single spike antler and a couple of small spikes were all that were captured on the trail cameras.
But on Nov. 19 there were photos of two racked bucks: a large spike, the one-spike buck and a small spike. This was a clear indication to me that the rut is on.
This has happened every year now since we have had this tract: Bucks appear in November when the first round of breeding is happening, they disappear for a month and then show up again for the second round.
So why am I telling you this?
Because if breeding is going on in Area 2 on Nov. 19, you Area 4 and Area 9 hunters should have seen breeding activity around Dec. 19, and you Area 1 and 6 hunters will see your first round of breeding activity on or about Jan. 19.
The second round of rut activity will occur a month later, following the first round so mark your calendars and check the weather for the cold fronts.