[This post is from the News-Reporter.]
By KIP BURKE news editor
With all the deer hunters in the woods right now, I think I've found what they're looking for - I know where a bunch of the deer went.
They're in my yard. With more than a million whitetail deer in Georgia, and more than
million public acres on which to hunt in the state, how come a dozen deer - make that 14
are browsing my back yard right now? I mean, my garden's done for the season, so they have to settle for the usual fall buffet of acorns and grass. But it's hunting season, and I guess that makes my little in-town acre suddenly a deer magnet.
Now, we've had a good-sized deer herd living in the Grove for generations, and about half the deer I'm seeing today grew up right here. I recognize two young eight-point bucks as the fawns I've watched grow from two years ago, and their mama, plus two yearlings and another doe that have been around forever.
But the other six or eight deer seem to be strangers. I can tell them from the usual family group because they're a lot more twitchy. They don't ignore our smell and presence like the deer who have grown up seeing and smelling us since birth.
I'm not saying these Grove deer are tame by any means, they're just accustomed to us. When I walk out the door, they give me a wary glance and may shy back a few feet if I make a sudden noise, but they've figured out I'm not a threat and they don't run away. When I'm working in the garden, I've had them quietly wander up behind me, browsing within 30 feet, aware of me but not concerned.
Hunters come from all over to hunt Wilkes County's woods every year, and that drives some deer into the relative safety of the city, where they seem to know they can't be shot at. They can, however, be hit by cars and trucks, and that happens a lot this time of year. It seems like a dozen deer-car wrecks have happened this week alone all around the county, and in the city. That's one reason I appreciate hunters who come from all over the South to try to harvest our abundant deer - each one taken is one we don't have to dodge on the highway.
So far, I haven't hit a deer in my 12 years here, but I can't brag. Soon after we moved here, I nailed a loose 1,200-pound Angus bull with my wife's minivan, and terminally tenderizing a love-struck young bull makes up for dodging a lot of deer. And I have recently come way too close to hitting a buck with my motorcycle, a collision that would have been pretty unpleasant for both of us.
For that reason, I wish all you deer hunters, local and visiting, good luck and good hunting. Despite my back yard full, there's plenty to go around, and you know that monster buck is out there just waiting for y'all. Harvest all you can, because we sure don't want to thump any more of them with our vehicles.
Around here, whether it's bow, muzzle-loader, or rifle season, it's always chrome bumper season, and I'm pretty sure they can't all hide in my yard.