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Not all deer gear is necessary?

By DICK MARTIN • Sep 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM

d'd be the last person to tell readers that I'm an expert on deer hunting, because I'm not. But I've hunted whitetails in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Marylan, and South Dakota, and taken my fair share of game, maybe more. And down through the years that I've hunted these elusive animals, I've learned a few things. You might agree with them, maybe not. Take camouflage, for example.

I have no problem with camouflage, in fact, I've a fair number of camouflage clothing pieces from coats to pants and shirts. Everybody does, and those camouflage items come in everything from green to golden to brown and black, depending on the season of the year. But while we all like to wear camouflage in the field or at game dinners and whatnot, I"m not at all sure it's necessary. In fact, the last deer I killed, a fine nine-point, came past while I was sitting on a fallen tree wearing a brilliant orange hunting coat and orange hat. He passed just 40 yards away and never saw me until I slowly raised my shotgun, and by then it was too late. I've bagged a number of other deer while wearing much the same.

Then there's the question of scent, and how to mask it. I've gone the whole route with scent, even to the point of taking a morning shower with body cleansing soap, and keeping my hunting togs in a plastic bag overnight liberally doused with cedar or pine scent. And I well remember getting in a station wagon one morning with four other hunters, all of us well scented with pine, fox, apple or other sprays and bottled odors. It was so bad we had to travel with the windows down for a while because it made our eyes water.

Then one day it dawned on me that by the time I'd walked 50 yards into a woodlot, body sweat was going to nullify the scent I was using to the point where a deer was likely to think "There goes a human that's rolled in pine twigs." So, I gave it up. The obvious solution was to hunt with the wind quartering or in the face, then anyone could go without a bath for a month, smoke stinky cigars or cigarettes, wear underwear that was two weeks old, or whatever, and the deer would never scent him. Makes sense to me.

Tree stands? They're fine, and I've shot a fair number of deer from such stands, but they're not really necessary in many cases. If you're hunting with a long bow or a compound you'll probably need one. I still remember leaning against a maple beside an open field and seeing a magnificent buck come walking past. I knew I was dead in the water before I even made a move, and I was right. The second I started to slowly raise my bow, he saw me and stopped with his muscles bunching. I drew the string quickly and released, but by the time the arrow reached where he'd been he was 10 yards up the meadow. No chance.

But archers who hunt with a crossbow aren't going to have that problem. They're shooting a rifle with a long bullet, and the only move they really need to make is a twitch on the trigger finger. Crossbow folk can check the wind, then lay flat on the ground if they like, or sit in the middle of a fallen tree with a few extra twigs to make a crude ground blind, and when a deer comes by make only a slow move to aim the crossbow. No need for a tree stand there.

There are other things. I've been criticized for using a .45 caliber Hawkins to muzzleload hunt, because I like to hunt squirrels with it too, and a larger caliber tears them up too much. "Too small a rifle" I've been told. "You need more stopping power, at least a .50 or .54." But every deer I've shot at with the .45 went into my freezer. You just have to place the round ball right.

You might agree or disagree with what I've said, and that's up to you. But you'll save some money skipping the unnecessary and concentrating on hunting correctly.

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• Ohio educators who have successfully used Project WILD in their classrooms can now provide students with additional hands-on learning about wildlife and habitat through grants. Grants totaling $500 each will be awarded on competitive basis to 40 schools or organizations currently participating in Project WILD, a supplemental environmental education curriculum for preschool through 12th grade. Interested educators should submit an application to the Division of Wildlife, Outdoor Education Section, 2045 Morse Road, building G, Columbus.

• Anglers who like catching tasty channel cats should find some at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot County where catchable catfish were recently stocked. Pond No. 30 received 500 catfish and anglers there can expect to catch sunfish and largemouth bass, too. Pond #31 was stocked with 300 catfish, and pond No. 33 now has bass, sunfish, channel cats and crappie. Good spots for fall fishing.

• Readers looking for public dove hunting areas will find them at the 2017 Interactive Regional Dove Field Location posted at wildohio.gov. When you open the link and click OK on the disclaimer, you will see a map of Ohio. The blue boxes with a symbol of a person shooting indicates areas where the Division of Wildlife is managing dove fields. Either zoom in on location you're interested in or use the search function in the top left. There are about 30 well managed fields holding dove forage that should attract birds in plenty.

Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You can also visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.

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