Deer season opens Saturday, but the sound of rifle fire won’t echo across hill and hollow.
Saturday is opening day for Arkansas’ lengthy archery deer season. Bowhunters have a full five months to hunt, from Saturday through Feb. 29. That’s one of the longest archery deer seasons in the nation.
We’ll be hopeful hunters Saturday at Camp See No Deer, our little piece of paradise where a few of us have permission to hunt. The landowner is kind and generous in letting us hunt, so long as we use bow and arrow. No guns allowed, even during muzzle-loader and modern gun seasons.
The preseason report from Camp See No Deer is bright. Deer are plentiful, as they are all over Arkansas. Thick is a better word for the white-tail population at Camp See No Deer. The landowner is eager for us to thin the herd.
It’s customary for hunters to share some venison with the family who owns the land. Our gracious host is vegetarian, but knows the value of hunting in wildlife management. We show our gratitude in other ways.
Each August, one of our group shows up with his tractor and Bush Hog to mow two fallow fields on the mostly wooded tract. One is close to the landowner’s home so the gesture is appreciated.
There’s a particular performance the proprietor of Camp See No Deer enjoys attending each year. Another hunter in our group buys the ticket and reserves a bottle of wine at the refreshment stand for our landowner to enjoy with friends during the show.
This is paltry thanks for the privilege of letting us hunt. We are forever grateful.
Just because the deer are thicker than squirrels doesn’t mean we’ll be loading up on venison. No siree. We might see deer everywhere if we’re taking a stroll through the forest. Show up later with a bow and arrow and the deer vanish. It’s a phenomenon every squirrel hunter, dove hunter or deer hunter knows well.
We try to do our herd-thinning part at Camp See No deer. The real joy is the view from the tree stand. It’s peaceful, quiet, tree-stand meditation being there in the woods when the critters think no one is watching.
One evening several seasons ago, we watched a young raccoon peak its head out of a knot hole in the thick branch of an oak tree. The little guy crawled out and stretched like it’d just got out of bed. Two more little raccoons followed, stretching, yawning and preening their fur.
Then here comes mom, provider and teacher, ready to tutor the little ones on their nightly prowl.
On another hunt, the heart raced and heavy breathing commenced. Twigs snapped and leaves ruffled. A 10-point buck was surely strolling toward the tree stand. The bubble burst when an armadillo emerged from the cover, nose to the ground and moving slow.
A great thing about archery is you can practice in your back yard for hours and not bother anyone. Those of us with our hineys parked in a tree stand practice from an elevation. A couple of us have practice stands in our yards. Another shoots from his deck that’s about tree-stand height.
That way, we’ll be ready on Saturday when that moment of truth arrives at Camp See No Deer.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org