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Friday, November 3, 2017 

Central Texas Outdoors

SEASON

hunt from a vehicle on private property, and this promotes riding around with loaded rifles. Do not ride around with a loaded rifle. Load the magazine and don’t chamber a cartridge until you see a target animal and the rifle is pointed in a safe direction, outside the vehicle window. Handling a rifle is awkward inside the vehicle, which is what makes riding with a loaded rifle so dangerous. Aside from rifles and driving to the hunting lease (you’re far more likely to be injured by a car wreck than a hunting accident), the most dangerous part of deer hunting is climbing into an elevated blind. It’s easy to lose your balance and fall, particularly in the dark, encumbered by a rifle over one shoulder and a pack over the other. If your ladder is the least bit difficult to climb, carry your rifle (unloaded) up first and place it safely in the blind. Then climb back down for another load. Don’t forget to load the rifle once you’re situated in the blind and unload it before starting down. Metal stairways that replace vertical ladders are the best deer hunting safety development in years. Stock up on ammunition before heading for a rural hunting lease. If you have a rifle problem that requires resighting, several shots may be required. You cannot rely on a local hardware store in rural Texas to stock the brand of ammunition, bullet design and bullet weight that you prefer.

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killing sprays so popular with archery hunters. An elevated stand helps to keep your scent above the animals. Whitetails may look delicate, but it takes a well-placed shot to humanely bring one down. Even if the deer runs away, seemingly unhurt, always follow up on every shot. Get a good mark on where the deer was standing when you shot and where it ran, wait 15 minutes (longer if you’re hunting in the morning), then check thoroughly for blood or any sign that the deer was hit. A deer may run more than 100 yards despite a mortal wound. If you know that you’ve made a bad shot, back out and leave the animal alone for as long as possible — overnight if the weather is cold and you’re not hunting in an area with a lot of coyotes. Follow the trail the next morning. Shot placement is more important than bullet size, construction or speed. The best shot on a whitetail is a broadside shot that places the bullet in the crease behind the deer’s shoulder, about midway down its body. This shot dispatches the deer quickly and humanely, damages less meat and offers the widest margin for error. Since a deer doesn’t always provide a perfect angle, study whitetail anatomy charts to learn where to shoot a deer facing you or quartering toward you or away from you. Unless the animal is already hit, do not shoot at a moving deer. Wear latex gloves when you field dress or skin a deer or hog. The odds of contracting any disease from handling a white-tailed deer are extremely small, but it’s best to err on the safe side. Hogs do carry diseases that are communicable to people. Wearing gloves also makes the cleanup easier. Most Texas deer hunters use automatic corn feeders to bait deer near a hunting blind. The feeders scatter a few pounds of corn at prime movement times and are usually set to go off 30 minutes or so after daylight and an hour or so before dark. It doesn’t take long for multiple deer, and hogs or turkeys, to clean up the corn. You can keep animals near the blind longer by hand-feeding or using a tailgate feeder on a vehicle to put out more corn before entering the blind. If a target buck sees other deer around a feeder, he’s more likely to consider it safe. Use a daypack to organize your hunting gear so you always have a flashlight, spare batteries, sharp knife, binoculars, extra ammunition, functioning ink pen

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Common deer hunting violations PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

for filling out your tag and the harvest log on your license, hearing protection, rain gear, warm gloves, latex gloves, snacks, water, tape or some other means of attaching your deer tag to the deer, and anything else you consider necessary for a deer hunt. Bring a good digital camera on every hunting trip. Use it to take photos of the camp, campfire and your hunting companions, especially if there are kids in the hunting party. A good photo of a child’s first deer is a keepsake to cherish for generations. If a hunter is lucky enough to take an outstanding buck, spend some time setting up the photograph. It will take almost a year for a taxidermist to do a good job on a mount. Hunt as much as possible during the rut (deer breeding season). Bucks are more active during the rut, and even mature bucks that have survived six or more hunting seasons can act suicidal. TPWD has done studies that pinpoint

when deer breed in each region. The results can be found at TPWD’s website. Cold weather results in more daytime breeding activity. Regardless of weather, deer breed about the same time every year. In warm weather, breeding activity mostly occurs at night. If you have a problem sitting still in a deer blind, take along a book, an electronic device with ear buds so you can listen to music, or maybe a small radio with ear buds to catch a weekend football game. Deer hunting success means being in the right place at the right time. The longer you sit still in a good place, the luckier you get. Carry your cellphone for safety or entertainment but turn the ringer off. Understand that rural Texas still has many places with no cell service. Tell hunting companions where you intend to hunt so they’ll know where to look if you don’t show up at camp. Be careful with guns, especially in and around vehicles. In Texas, it’s legal to

No hunter education certificate: Every hunter born on or after Sept. 1, 1971, must take and pass a stateapproved hunter education program. A one-time deferral costing $10 is available for hunters 17 or older who have not passed the course. Improperly tagged deer: Use a knife or scissors to cut out the date of harvest and an ink pen to write the appropriate information on the tag. Harvest log violation: Use your pen to duplicate the tag information on the hunting license harvest log printed on the back of your license. Untagged deer: The deer must be tagged with the appropriate hunting license tag as soon as it is recovered. Your hunting gear should include tape, wire or some other means of attaching the tag to the carcass. Hunting without a license: Every hunter, regardless of age, must have a hunting license. 2017-18 white-tailed deer season dates • North Texas: Nov. 4-Jan. 7 • South Texas: Nov. 4-Jan. 21

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