Birds and Bucks
I hope everyone had a great start to the New Year! I know I've gotten my year off to a solid start with some quail hunting down at GSO this past Monday. This time the posse of hunters was from Florida, making their way up to our neck of the woods to enjoy a little bird hunting. All the fellas had a great time, and, of course, the dogs did too. They love a good day's work on the field. The birds were flying great and the hunters were shooting straight! We managed to pick up 129 quail, so definitely a great day's work.
As some of you may have noticed, it's gotten a bit chillier since I last wrote, and man, it's finally starting to pay off. I'm hearing reports from everywhere that the deer are finally starting to move, and to top it off, hunters are bringing in the big boys; mature bucks are starting to move. There's already plenty of sign, like scrapes and rubs, letting us know where those old boys are roamin and runnin for a bit. I'm also hearing talk that some folks are seeing bucks starting to chase does, so you know what that means. Get to the stands and hunker down; the Rut's starting in some places.
Of course, when you're out there, patiently working towards that new addition to the trophy wall, make sure you're playing it safe. Always wear your hunter's orange out there; no exceptions! All it takes is one mistake or one accident to end a life, no matter the intentions. So, I don't wanna be reading about any of those kinds of things in the paper or listening to them on the news; stay safe! Don't forget your hunter's license, and make sure you're recording everything on to your harvest record. While you're at it, make sure to fill out your harvest on Game Check as well, by phone at 1-800-888-7690, by app on your smartphone, or visit the Outdoor Alabama website and search for Game Check! Remember, every little bit helps!
Speaking of the wildlife biology side of things, let's talk a little about our deer population, and some interesting figures that have been released. QDMA has released their annual Whitetail Report, available online at www.QDMA.com, and I discovered something rather interesting as I pored over it. For the first time since we've stabilized the deer population in the mid-1900's, we hunters are harvesting more mature bucks than young bucks, young meaning 1 and ½ years or younger in age. From the information QDMA's gathered, the percentage of young bucks has dropped to under 33% of harvests, while older bucks, at 3 and ½ years of age and older, are at 34% of harvests! That may seem a bit trivial at first, but think about it. We're really starting to see the long-term benefits of proper deer herd management, in that the population has not only become more stable, but the number of deer surviving to adulthood has increased as well.
Now, overall harvesting of bucks has decreased a bit in number from last year, as seems to be the recent trend, but not to worry. We have had some crazy weather the past couple of years, so no reason to panic yet. I still think we're in pretty darn good shape for what we have in terms of deer population, as a whole, and we're heading in the right direction. The longer lifespan of mature bucks means that you'll have lots more activity like scrapes and rubs, and your grunts and rattling will definitely get more active responses than they used to, if this trend for mature bucks continues. We've just gotta keep up the hard work with proper land and deer herd management.
Here's to hoping all of you folks enjoy the rest of your time out there this month, and maybe bag a big buck in the process! I'm still traveling, wheelin' and dealin' with QDMA, but that won't keep me out of the woods too long! As always, I look forward to hearing from all of you about the hunts and fun you've all had this year, so get out there, be safe, and go get'em!