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Hang in there Jake, it’ll happen for you sooner or later.

Every time you go in the woods and don’t kill/see a deer just means your one hunt closer to it happening. Do not go into the woods without confidence cause then you’ll become fidgety and lose focus and poof, all you see is his white tail waving goodbye to you. (ask me how I know) The does are soon to be getting right and the bucks will be running around with their tongues hanging out trying to find her! Good luck bud!
 

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As these new hunters are unsuccessful and the weather turns cold, wet and windy the crowds will decrease substantially. Hang in there as it will get better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Hang in there Jake, it'll happen for you sooner or later.

Every time you go in the woods and don't kill/see a deer just means your one hunt closer to it happening. Do not go into the woods without confidence cause then you'll become fidgety and lose focus and poof, all you see is his white tail waving goodbye to you. (ask me how I know) The does are soon to be getting right and the bucks will be running around with their tongues hanging out trying to find her! Good luck bud!
Thanks for the encouragement, Rancher! I really do need it! And you're exactly right about not going with low confidence. In fact, if there's one positive to this it's causing me to focus on hunting smart rather than just going into the woods just to be there. SO many times in the past I've gone hunting with no real plan - lacking that burning optimism that can make mundane hunts turn into something special.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
As these new hunters are unsuccessful and the weather turns cold, wet and windy the crowds will decrease substantially. Hang in there as it will get better.
That's a very good point, and I agree with you 100%. With few exceptions, these new hunters are not being successful, and many of them surely will hang it up after getting skunked a few times. Also, like you guys, I've had most of my success from mid-Dec through about mid-Jan. And honestly, this year my focus really isn't on big bucks (although certainly they're never far from my mind :). Rather, with my son running his dog more and deer hunting less, I'm feeling a little urgency to get the freezer full. For my hungry family that means at least 5 deer. Even with kids in college we'll consume three, and I really want to be able to share with a couple extended family and a few friends.

** Speaking of eating and sharing venison, I made a huge deer stew last night to feed about 8 people, and I'm going to describe how I did it in the Recipes section. Everyone has a good stew recipe, so I know this isn't anything new. But it turned out fantastic, so I want to document (best I can) what I did.
 

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** Speaking of eating and sharing venison, I made a huge deer stew last night to feed about 8 people, and I'm going to describe how I did it in the Recipes section. Everyone has a good stew recipe, so I know this isn't anything new. But it turned out fantastic, so I want to document (best I can) what I did.
I'd love to see the recipe. I'm getting an Instant Pot for Christmas (I know I sound like a 10 year old saying that) and am ready to start making all sorts of stews and corned venison with it.
 

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It's mid Dec. Most of us have probably spent time in the woods. So what's the outlook? Seeing lots of deer? Putting deer on the ground and in the freezer?

For me it's a tale of two cities, so to speak. According to area processors, it's a banner year. The two biggest processors have stopped taking in deer twice since rifle season opened. Yet on the public land where I hunt I've never seen a slower year. I've gone FIVE afternoons in a row and haven't seen ONE deer. No does, fawns, spikes, nada. Sign has never been lighter, and I'm not seeing ANY scrapes.

But I AM seeing more HUNTERS than ever before. As a result of COVID there was a huge surge in new hunter participation, and these new hunters would not have had the opportunity to join a club before deer season. Therefore all these newbies are taking to the public lands, and I'm seeing things this year I've never seen before: permanents stands, pop up blinds, 4 wheelers all over the place, 4 wheeler trails where they have no business, boot tracks where I've never seen one before. The public lands I hunt are under seige, and the effects on hunting couldn't be more clear or immediate. And it's not just me. I've made friends with several guys who hunt these areas, and everyone is saying the same thing.

Last week on the way in I heard someone shoot about 200 yards ahead of me. (because of where he parked I had no idea he was in these woods - but that's a rant for another time). When I got up to the area the guy was waiting on his buddy to arrive to help. He immediately tried to divert my attention and pretend his deer had run away and they were going to track him. I looked around and saw a white belly about 50 yards away. "There's your deer, man." He tried to act surprised. "Oh, wow...thanks dude!" Turns out it was a 1.5 yr old spike with one side broken off half-way and he thought he'd killed an illegal deer. I asked him if it was his first of the season (honestly I think it was the first of his life), and he said yes. I told him, "it's ok...the law is on your side this year."

That's the kind of hunter running all over public lands right now.
I don't know where you hunt on public? but a buck of choice is not legal in the national forrest I hunt. Still has to be state minimum.
 

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The late summer hurricanes stripped a lot of acrons in my neck of the woods. what I thought would be a good crop turned out to be essentially non existent. That explains some of the early on "average joe food plot/corn/cell cam/ grandma with a buck kills", it also explains why some areas that have historically been good places in the forrest I hunt to have zero deer in them.....not a single acorn. some early season but the willow oaks and trees I depend on late season have no acorns this year, lots of timber down along the creeks to with the amount of wind we had with this years storms. I actually have seen a fair amount of deer total this season but It has progressively slowed lately. Sign is just starting to get laid down heavy in my neck of the woods. One thing that is bothering me this year, Im not seeing young bucks....by this time of the year its generally pretty routine for me to see spikes and 4 points. ive yet to see a single one on the public I hunt this year. Oddly enough ive actually see a few mature ones this year that have all given me the slip so far. I did go ahead and take a doe while It was still legal on public during the second primitive, had to use the cart. Sucked every minute to. As far as hunters, ive seen more than previous years, but it hasn't become a nuisance yet, time will tell, hammer time is usually January for oosers and warriors. Atv traffic is what it is...is basically 99% illegal. There just isn't many spots you can legally use one for any reason in the public I hunt.....but like ive said before its Mississippi. The most unethical unnsportsmanlike people ive ever met hunting anywhere is right here at home.
 

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Jake, if you were hunting on a public wma when you encountered the hunter with the dead spike, the deer may have been illegal, the way I understand the regulations the one buck of choice that don't meet the zone requirements only applies to private land and designated areas, WMA's have there on antler requirements and are not included in the one buck of choice option.
 

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I don't know where you hunt on public? but a buck of choice is not legal in the national forrest I hunt. Still has to be state minimum.
Jake, if you were hunting on a public wma when you encountered the hunter with the dead spike, the deer may have been illegal, the way I understand the regulations the one buck of choice that don't meet the zone requirements only applies to private land and designated areas, WMA's have there on antler requirements and are not included in the one buck of choice option.
Holly Springs National Forest and Upper Sardis WMA both allow 1 buck of choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Holly Springs National Forest and Upper Sardis WMA both allow 1 buck of choice.
I *think* it's the same where I'm talking about: Corp of Engineers lands associated with the Arkabutla Reservoir. Whatever the case, it was 3 weeks ago, so I guess it's a moot point now. It's not a deer I would take anyway.

My son and I went yesterday afternoon, two different places. Driving to my spot I saw 4 trucks parked at other access points, all within earshot. Neither Luke nor I saw a single deer, and I heard no shots. I've NEVER seen these particular areas so dead. What really stood out is how much food is available in areas that year after year get to running VERY low by this time. This is river bottom land that's under water from Spring to about Sept. The live trees are buck brush and cypress - too wet for any mast-producing trees except for the occasional bur oak. So by Oct-Nov the main food source in the immediate area is dewberry/briers, and this year was a banner year for the stuff. It's everywhere. Last year by this time it was limited to small patches that were getting worked pretty hard, and by mid-Jan it was almost all gone. Not this year. I think the hunting pressure has them mostly nocturnal, and the availability of nearby food allows them to lay up all day. The buck my son killed on opening day had so much fat on him I was shocked. Food is NOT a problem this year where we hunt.
 

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IMO where I hunt it's all about hunting pressure right now. People around me that hunt private land are having good seasons. Like I said, the two big processors quit taking in deer twice already.

But on public land up here things are different, and I believe it's directly related to the increase in hunting pressure. It's not secret that 2020 was a banner year for firearms and ammo sales. The shortage we see now is every bit as bad as 2012-13, and it's not politically motivated. It's motivated by fear and uncertainly resulting from COVID. I've read that there were more first-time gun buyers in 2020 than over the past 10 years combined. Many of those are also first time hunters. They don't have deer leases, so they hunt where they can: Public land. I've never seen so many hunters in the woods, and it seems like every one of them owns a 4 wheeler, and they honestly believe there's no other way to get in and out of the woods. They drive those darn things over and to places even when walking would be quicker and easier! I'm seeing tracks in places I'd never imagined.

Regardless of deer populations being up or down (and I don't believe they are up, even with the reduction in harvest), the deer are reacting to the increased pressure. They are moving much less during the day and they are finding little pockets where hunters aren't harassing them.

It's Dec 16 and I don't have a deer on the ground. Not only that, but I haven't seen enough to give me much confidence so my enthusiasm is waning a bit. I'm doing all the self-motivation I can to get my butt in gear, but so far it's not working, lol.
I saw plenty deer on my property in Lawrence County this season.
 
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