By James Gilmer
I am a 65-year-old deer hunter who has never hunted deer with a gun. To steal a phrase, I am a “dyed in the wool” bow hunter. I have been hunting deer for 44 years. The last 38, I have hunted deer strictly with traditional equipment. For the uninformed, that means I hunt with the old fashioned long bow and recurve.
I moved to Houston County 12 years ago and my very first deer hunt in the bluffs was in 1991.
These last few years, I have come to dread the deer gun season. Let me tell you why.
This year’s opening day was like so many other normal hunting days for me. I was perched in a tree stand upon my farm well before first light. I actually like sitting in the dark, watching the stars, the moon and planets and listening to the night sounds. Shooting light (legal shooting time is 30 minutes before sun rise) was about 20 minutes away when the first shots rang out. The sky was barely pink, I could not see the forest floor clearly and hunters were already shooting at something. As the day wore on there was a shot here, a shot there. Sometimes there were many shots in a row, followed by a short silence and then several shots more. As the day ended and shooting light faded (legal shooting time ends 30 minutes after sunset) the shots continued on. As I walked home through the forest in the dark, down the old logging road, four more shots rang out. What can they possibly even see much less shoot, at I thought.
So here is my plea. Please don’t shoot when the light is not good enough for you to know if you hit or missed your target. Please don’t throw multiple Hail Mary shots at deer that are beyond your shooting ability. Please don’t shoot at running deer or deer that are walking in thick brush. When you do shoot, follow up every shot as if you are sure you hit your target. Walk to where the deer was standing when you fired and actually look for signs of a hit. For you more experienced hunters, if there is someone in your group who hunts irresponsibly, speak to them about it. Let’s all remember that our quarry deserves our respect. It is a living, breathing warm blooded mammal that feels pain. Let’s all make it our goal to make quick, clean and ethical kills our number one concern.
I’m getting off my soap box now and heading back to my tree stand.
Be safe, have fun and please hunt with the respect the deer deserve.