My deer season has been a successful one so far, but I no longer measure my success by how many points a buck has and what it scored. That’s not to say I haven’t in seasons past. 

I have been blessed to put deer meat in my freezer already. Grilling venison steaks or cooking a big pot of venison stew is something I really enjoy. Family and friends look forward to my Christmas presents of venison summer sausage, snack sticks and jerky, so they won’t be disappointed this year. Doe meat sure tastes a whole lot better than an old buck. 

In past years, I do feel I let my pursuit of a “big buck” consume me so much I had forgotten why I was really out there. I am out there to see spectacular sunsets and colorful sunrises, to hear owls and crows calling and bright red cardinals perched in nearby trees. I am out there to watch squirrels, foxes and bobcats that have no idea I am in their home. 

I am out there to be with friends, family or to be alone. 

I have a tag left, so I will still be out there sitting in a tree during the alternative season, thanking my God for this special time in life. If I see a deer, I will not know until that moment if I will shoot again or not. That’s not why I am there.

Are you still deer hunting?

If you’re still deer hunting, look for deer holed up in tiny patches of dense cover. These spots are usually neglected by hunters just because they are such small areas. A few acres can hold a lot of deer if the cover is thick enough and un-pressured.

Off-season paddling

Winter canoe or kayak trips whether on a lake or river is really something special.  The summer crowds of people are gone but you will see plenty of other travelers.  The woods and waterways seem to come alive with wildlife.  With no leaves to block your view you see things you would never see any other time.  

The summer noisiness is not there either. The only sounds you hear are rippling water, bird songs, turkey talk or deer walking on a gravel bar. 

Off-season paddling is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Christmas for just a little while.  

Fueling up

Your body burns more calories in cold weather, so you need to eat more. About 4,500-5,000 calories per day will keep you fueled for strenuous outdoor activities. 

This is no time to diet. Carbohydrates and fats are good sources of energy. Carry fruit, candy, nuts, and cereals for snacks when out enjoying the great outdoors.

An almost true story

Last week, I am in a tree stand when a squirrel comes down the tree next to me barking and fussing. He suddenly jumps and lands on the tree my stand is in.

It had huge fangs and claws. I screamed, and would swear the squirrel did, too, then it ran away. I turned to see a 10-point buck laughing at me, and then he ran away. I hate squirrels.

Something to think about

“The great challenge left to us is to cut through all the glitz and glamor of the season that has grown increasingly secular and commercial, and be reminded of the beauty of the One who is Christmas.”

-Bill Crowder

Larry Whiteley was born and raised in Nixa. He was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in honor of his more than 40 years of communicating the great outdoors all over the world through his outdoor articles and radio shows.

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