Outdoor Corner: Are We Really "Hunting" Deer?

Lyle Johnson
Jordan Sheets killed this Livingston Parish 9-pt buck that weighed in at 210 lb. He shot it at 30 yds with his 7mm at 5 p.m.

Hunting: I hit the internet definitions for the word and they pretty much stated in some form or other as the pursuit or looking for game to harvest for food or sport. So let's take a jovial look at the evolution of hunting to determine if we actually "hunt" for deer today.

I'm sure early deer hunters were no different than those of today. They figured out the best times to hunt them, where they eat, staying upwind and all the other stuff we've learned to perfect over the years.

But the early hunters probably had it just a little different. Their weapons were really primitive. Knives, spears, and rocks were the weapons of choice early on in the process. But you really had to get close to the deer to get a good kill shot.

So some guy that probably was really hungry and hadn't been having all that much success came up with a way to launch the rock using some primitive mechanics and voila! The slingshot was born. It was lightweight, easy to carry and used a smaller projectile so he didn't have to carry a five pound rock in the woods all day. But you still had to get too close.

After flinging that rock around for a while, somebody cleverly thought of a way to launch that spear so you didn't have to get so close to your target, and he came up with the bow. If they were anything like the bows & arrows we made as kids out of willow branches, they quickly learned that the arrow needed to be very straight and some feathers on the back end made them much more accurate. Thus the quest to conquer the mighty buck deer was born.

Stalking was the way to get that deer. Finding a trail that was a traveling path was an essential part of the equation and of course making the stalk was upwind so the deer couldn't smell you was equally important. Finding a feeding location could also be very valuable as there might be a concentration of deer in the area to make the success ratio a little higher. Over time, things changed though.

Hunting on the ground limited a hunter's vision so I'm sure the early guys used hills to increase their range of sight. But one of them was probably looking up in a tree and it hit them: "I bet if I could get up in that tree about 10 or so feet, I could see a mile!" The deer stand was born. Now we have climbers, hand built and manufactured ladder stands with small platforms to hotel-like structures on top of them and everything in between.

Food supply is next. Everything eats. If you want to find a crowd of humans that will be in one place for a long time, go to a good restaurant. So if you want to find a crowd of deer, find their favorite eating establishment. White oaks with those extra large acorns are one of the best natural foods that deer enjoy.

But I'm sure a hunter was hunting next to a cow pasture that was full of winter grass planted to feed cows, and he noticed that deer were enjoying feasting on some easy pickings. The light goes off, "Man, what if I plant some of that grass in the woods and build me a stand in one corner and just let them come to me!" The food plot was born!

Today there are more types of food one can plant to attract deer than on most restaurant menus. And you get to plant them at different times of the year to grow different parts of the deer. There are even appetizers available that can be added to the menu. Salt blocks, corn dispensed in battery operated throwers, and rice bran. You can pour or spray stuff on stumps, near watering holes, and yes we've even gone the way of street thugs: deer cocaine.

Getting upwind of the creature is still desired, but that is also falling by the wayside. I remember reading a story about 30 years ago written by a hunter that had bagged 99 legal bucks at the time. It was sort of a 'how to' article and he gave out his secret of how he covered his scent. Smoke! That's right, smoke from a fire made with oak leaves. Deer aren't afraid of the smell of smoke.

But that's way too easy. Today we have more smells available to put on us than Glade has room freshening scents. Urine of all types; buck, doe in heat, fox, coon, hog and if you don't like the natural smells of animal pee on you, there's also Cedar, Acorn, Fresh Earth and Pine Cover Scents for the flowery hunter.

Ladies know this tactic very well and have used perfume to attract men for centuries, but perfume usually smells good. Likewise a good hunter can "splash" on some of the above mentioned aromas to either mask the human smell or use it to attract a deer.

But splashing on is not the only way you can do it. Code Blue's ( ) new Drop Time Scent Dispenser electronically delivers a fresh shot of your favorite attractant at dusk and dawn, or in 20-minute intervals. The Drop Time is battery powered and features a big 2.5-ounce reservoir, which cuts down on unnecessary trips to your scent site, thus preventing spreading your own scent right where you want that buck to stand.

Then there's fashion. Yes folks, even in hunting land fashion plays a big part of the game. What good hunter would be caught dead without the latest designs to keep us hidden from an unsuspecting deer? Why, none of course. Just take a trip to Cabela's and browse the amount of camouflage clothing, then make a trip to your favorite clothing store. Too much!

Hey, you can't wash them like regular clothes. You can buy them that hide your scent right off the shelf or just buy regular camo and get some detergent especially formulated to wash your scent away and keep it off.

Are there any more weapons in our repertoire? Of course, it's the trail camera! We have motion sensitive cameras that are set up in more places in the woods than security cameras in the mall. They tell us the day and the time those deer are coming to eat all the food we are serving in our deer deli.

A lot of hunters enjoy getting them on camera as much or more than they actually do hunting for them. They name the deer and sport pictures around just as proud as any hunter that has bagged one.

Let's see, first we open a restaurant complete with appetizers (food plot) and erect a viewing platform. (stand of some sort) Our fashion, that on a normal day brings attention to us, hides us as much as possible (camo). Put on some "doe in heat" urine (not smells like--but the real thing) and a sprayer that dispenses acorn scent. Then we wait for a deer to come our way.

Are we really "hunting" deer? According to the technical definition, probably not. But hey it's a lot of fun and I'll probably participate in this activity, whatever it's called, a time or two this season. So until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe, and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Squirrel, Quail & Rabbit Season: Through-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Duck Seasons: Through Jan. 26, East Waterfowl Zone. Dec. 21-Jan. 19, Coastal Waterfowl Zone. 21-Jan. 26, West Waterfowl Zone.

Open Recreational Offshore Fishing Seasons: Red snapper weekends only, including Monday, Nov.11 (Veterans Day) until further notice; and, all groupers except closed for the take of goliath & Nassau groupers in state/federal waters.

Fishing for Tucker Bass Classic: Feb 1, held out of Doiron's Landing in Stephensville. Entry fee $100 per two angler team. $2000 first place payout based on 100 boats. All info on or call Ryan Lavigne 225-921-9332.

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