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Enjoy other critters during deer season
RAYMOND, Miss. -- Deer season has arrived, drawing thousands of Mississippians into the woods in anticipation of creating more great hunting memories as in seasons past.
Mental images of the big one walking broadside at 30 yards with the wind in your favor keeps many hunters up at night. For some, especially older hunters, the season is about taking the next generation out to experience this unique tradition.
Others, like myself, venture out just to experience the woods and the wildlife that live there. Of course, if the situation presents itself, harvesting an animal just makes the experience that much sweeter.
Novices and veteran deer hunters alike soon figure out that they will spend a lot of time sitting in a stand or on the ground at the base of the tree observing the woods and all their moving parts. To be honest, this is the part that I enjoy the most. It is a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of everyday modern life. Plus, no trail camera or online video can capture as intimate and detailed a view of the forest’s various critters as you can perched above the forest floor.
In the time I’ve spent hunting in South, I’ve had many memorable moments with the other critters. There are all the times that Carolina Chickadees have landed on the end of my rifle. Or there was the time a family of raccoons climbed up the tree where I sat in my stand. When they realized I was there, they abruptly turned around and climbed back down.
One of my most memorable moments was sitting in my stand a couple years ago and suddenly having that feeling of being watched. I looked off to my right and was surprised to see a Barred Owl perched only 15 feet away. If you are ever lucky enough to have this happen, you will never forget the penetrating stare of this large bird. You will be immediately grateful that you are not a small rodent!
Thankfully, experiencing these moments does not require any additional equipment (except maybe a decent pair of binoculars) or any exceptional knowledge about the natural world. It simply requires time, patience and awareness of your surroundings.
So, instead of looking at social media or the thousand other apps on your smartphone while in the stand, keep your eyes on the world around you. I promise you will be rewarded in due time.
Have a safe and observant hunting season!
Editor’s Note: Extension Outdoors is a column authored by several different experts in the Mississippi State University Extension Service.