No, I don’t mean Christmas, though we’ll get to that soon enough. Heck, Christmas season started about the day after Halloween, with Thanksgiving apparently becoming the step-child of fourth-quarter holidays. (Did you notice you don’t see turkeys and pilgrims on merchandisers’ signs anymore? It went straight from pumpkins and ghosts to the Xmas stuff.)

I’m not talking about Santa’s reindeer, I’m talking about the other kind. Whitetails. Blacktails. Mule deer. 


Crisp outdoor days. Lean, delicious mean free of artificial hormones. A sense of self-sufficiency.

When I was a kid, I lived for deer season. Took as much time off from high school during that time as I could without being automatically held back a year.

Like-minded kids during hunting season greeted each other with, not “How ya doin’?” but “Got your deer yet?”

I suspect my sister Backwoods Home columnist and blogger Jackie Clay is already in the process of filling her larder with venison with the Winchester ’94 .30-30 she was using for such harvesting the last time I saw her. Read her books for delicious recipes.

I invite you to share here your memories, from recent to long past, on this topic. 

And if you don’t care to hunt, you’re invited to comment too. Remember, this blog was never intended to be an echo chamber.

So…got your deer yet?


  1. I haven’t gotten my deer yet, but just this morning I was yelling at a half-dozen of the frickin’ hoofed rats out my bathroom window. The vermin, including one buck with a huge 8-point rack, were walking through the east garden heading for my little stand of baby aspen saplings I roped off. That stupid buck busted through the twine earlier last week and thrashed every single sapling with his antlers trying to get the last of the velvet off. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping he didn’t completely girdle all the trees, going on three years old.

    Since I’m just inside the city limits (if you stand in the alley you can throw a rock and have it land just outside the city) I can’t shoot them in my own yard, and the guy who owns the property behind the city doesn’t allow hunting. I’ve tried sprays, and fences, and startle-sprinklers, but nothing drives ’em away except hitting them in the butt with a good-sized rock, which I do when I can see them in time.

    Everybody around here refers to our little NW Wyoming town as “the petting zoo”; the only deer I’ve hit (so far, knock wood) with the truck was one block off the main drag as it stepped out from between two parked cars; I was only doing about 3 MPH and just tapped him.

    So go get ’em, boys, and thin that herd down!

    • I’ve heard a gardener, whom I trust, confidently assert that human hair (collected and placed in a nylon stocking) repels them. The local barber is usually willing to give away the sweepings. But if they’re not afraid of humans, I’m not so sure the smell of humans will do you much good. Dog fur? But yours may not be afraid of dogs, either. Don’t know where you might obtain bear fur 🙂 ??? And then there’s the claim — that no one seems willing to either confirm or deny — that urine repels them…does that neighbor you referenced have a line-of-sight to the location in question 🙂 ?

  2. I too used to live for deer season, except that I started late in life. I previously lived in The Peoples Republic of New Jersey, but was blessed to move to Virginia 35 years ago.

    Unfortunately, Virginia is now like New Jersey lite. The Dems who ruined the blue states are now infesting the red ones, with no end in sight.

    As regards deer season now, I’m too old and crippled up to drag a deer anymore.

    Go get ‘em boys.

  3. The memories of hunting while growing up are many. Things are very different now, though. I fondly remember arriving at school after a morning hunt and stopping off at the office to let them know I was there. First question I was asked was “Is your gun in your vehicle?” Upon answering yes, I was told to bring it into the school and lock it in my locker. Since I didn’t have a lock, the school issued me one for the remainder of deer season. Nobody questioned the knife in a sheath hanging from my belt. Oh how the times have changed.

  4. Got my three all with a stern tactical black version with federal 165 grain tactical ammunition all one shot dropped right there not making a single step two rounds went completely through the other a neck shot with a slight angle to it went all the way from neck to stomach area and recovered bullet perfectly mushroomed
    Best deer season I ever had and started at 13 years old

  5. The gun deer harvest in Northern Wisconsin was down 30% from last season. Everyone I know in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota is seeing fewer deer and more wolves. All the activists and politicians sitting in Madison and Minneapolis think the wolves are just cute and cuddly and don’t give two cents for the impact on hunters, farmers and business owners that live in the northwoods.

    • On one hand, wolves are native fauna in a lot of areas, and had been displaced by encroaching humans, so there is a case to be made for reintroducing them.

      On the other hand, the numbers that pro-wolf activists want to introduce would throw deer (and other large prey species) populations wildly out of balance, and leave next-to-nothing for lawful hunters (who ironically pay the bulk of the cost for the pro-wolf policies through license and tag fees). IIRC, Washington State, for example, was pushing for 25 confirmed breeding pairs of wolves — a completely arbitrary number which is almost more than the entire state’s forests could support, even if they eliminated hunting entirely and accepted a certain amount of farmer/rancher livestock loss.

      It doesn’t make sense, until you realize these people aren’t “pro-wolf”; they’re “anti-human”. They care not one bit that the numbers of wolves they want to see are unsustainable, would virtually wipe out deer and elk populations, make farming and ranching next-to-impossible (to say nothing about lawful hunting), and drive the predators to such hungry desperation that they might even start attacking humans for food.

      All features, not bugs. Whatever it takes to reduce the number of humans in the area. (That most of the humans living in rural and near-wilderness areas swing the opposite way politically from pro-wolf activists, is just a bonus.)

  6. I have fond memories of Daddy putting his M1 carbine in his company car in the morning, and taking a detour through the deer woods after his traveling salesman work. On a pretty regular basis he would return home with a white tail buck in his trunk, later to be delivered to his butcher friend, and then return, wrapped for the freezer. We never lacked for meat while Crackerman (he worked for Nabisco) was alive.

  7. Living in Maine surrounded by Acadia National Park they have managed to ban only deer hunting here for the last 80 some years. The deer are so over populated I have a dozen or more in my yard aggravating my tied German Shepherd dog with impunity. As a former police officer I can tell you the car deer accidents are at a redidulous number year round, and have been since I started patrol in 1983. We could ride around any night on patrol and count 50 to 75 deer along side the roads. Talk about aggravating, we have to drive 20 minutes to legally hunt deer when they are all around us and we are in the country, very little built up areas.

  8. I last hunted in 2021, here in Michigan. I killed a very nice spike horn buck at about 50-60 yards with a sabot slug of an ounce out of my home defense 12 gauge.
    The gun is just a plain 18 inch open cylinder bore pump, a copy of the Remington 870. I paid around $160 for it. The only deer I ever killed here in Michigan with a rifle was with my dad’s 30/40 Krag. I tend to hunt in wooded places, with the longest shot around 75 yards. So a shotgun is my normal deer gun. These new slugs with the sabots, instead of the old Forstner types are impressive. I can hold spot on up to that 75 yard mark, with a slow drop off until 100 yards or so.
    My son had 20 acres in the boondocks, that I hunted with him on. Sadly he got divorced and they sold the place, a huge log cabin with geothermal heat and a hot water boiler with a wood burning heater outside that kept them comfy in both summer and winter.
    My hometown of Hesperia, MI always had male teachers on the bargaining committee of the union, and so we always got opening day of deer season off. Gotta love small towns.
    Michigan rifle season is November 15-30. Muzzle loader I believe starts on the 10th. Bow season is October 1st, with a lot of time to fill tags. My neighbor filled his rifle tag with a very nice 8 point.
    Some of my best memories are with my dad and my brothers hunting deer. I suspect that I am no different than thousands of other men and women like that.

  9. Friend of mine grew up in a cattle famiiy in rural Colorado. He told a story from his Wedding day, Saturday. The main event started out mid-morning. All the wedding party were, of course, suitably attired for such an event. As the feasting and patying cinttinued after the ceremony, some of the guys in the wedding party started pressuring my friend’s younger sister, who was one of the Bridesmaids, to join them as they went out for a late afternoon hunt.Seems my friend and Bride had selected Opening Day of deer season as their wedding day. Seems that Sister was well known for running, riding, working stock, shooting, and hunting just as “one of the guys”. they were hounding her to shuck off her fancy duds and ride out with them for the hunt.
    Observing this, my friend’s Dad quietly sidled up to the gathering of the “young bucks” plotting how to shame her into heading out with them for the hunt, something they were certain she’d eagerly do, and could not understand her acting so out of character. His Dad listened to their plotting for a while, then quietly allowed to the “boys” “Id advise you go gentle on her before you provoke her into telling you that she got up before the sun this morning, saddled up, rode out, came back a couple hours later and hung her five point buck in the barn after gutting him. Go out there and have a look if you like…..”. A feather could have knocked the lot of them down on a row….. I seem to remember my friend also stating that HER buck was by far the largest of all that were taken that day.

  10. I don’t hunt but do like to fish. That said, I remember with fondness the article you did many years ago which I believe took place in South Africa where you went and took an Impala (?) with a .357 Magnum revolver and the standard of the day 125 grain SJHP round which was shown perfectly mushroomed. I think you even talked about mealy paps as well?

  11. I took my first whitetail buck when I was 14 years old with a borrowed.303 Enfield in a friend’s pea field in Southeast Texas. That was 63 years and countless deer ago, but I still remember the excitement and the sweet smell of the blood while cleaning that first ever buck! Wow!

  12. Thanks, everyone, for the great comments and memories. I grew up in a hunting family, and my tiny rural school used to simply take a snow day and close the first day of deer season. I think I was in high school before I realized that most kids growing up in America didn’t have the privilege of venison at least 4 of 7 nights a week. The meals were great, and I’m so thankful to my Dad for the blessing of knowing what really great venison tastes like. Not only did he always fill his tags, but we lived amidst corn fields, where the hooves frequently lost the lug nut rule to motor vehicles. Dad would call the Sheriff, get a tag, be up half the night butchering, then leave for work the next day at 5:30.
    It wasn’t until much later in life that I was able to fully appreciate those corn fields. I was in another part of the country, and a kind person offered to share some venison, b/c he’d heard I love it. But it didn’t taste anything like Dad’s. I asked my Dad if maybe it was because it was a different species. That may have had an impact. But apparently the greater difference was that all the deer I ate growing up were corn-fed (much to the farmers’ chagrin :-).
    God bless, stay safe, good hunting!

  13. I do not have a picture to prove the following account, but my husband was in the car, and will swear to its veracity… In early deer season this year, we were driving through a rural area on an interstate. It was three lanes, b/c of a big hill. There were only a handful of cars, but in the distance, we saw break lights, and the cars moving to the right. We soon saw a sight I will never forget: Standing in the middle lane, as still as a statue, broadside-facing-oncoming-traffic, as if perfectly-posed for a hunting magazine cover, was a six-point buck. I wanted a picture so badly! The caption would have been: “This rack will cost you more than $1.60.”

  14. Fairly related:
    I note that .556 is not legal in some states for deer hunting.
    Deer aren’t that big a creature and I imagine the chances of being attacked by one that is drugged or drunk are low.
    See what I did there Hollywood? You can have the premis for ‘Cocaine Deer’ for free :-).
    So is the .556 a good enough man stopper?
    By ‘good enough’, I mean ‘with one shot you can stop them being a threat’.
    The ‘IF you want a one shot stop…..’ caveat sounds bizarre to me.
    Someone shooting or stabbing at me; I’d like them to cease straight away personally.

    • nicholas kane,

      Others can give you a better answer than I can, but I will make a beginning. If I am not mistaken, only two states allow deer to be taken with .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO. That round was created as a varmint round, to be used on prairie dogs and ground hogs. Jeff Cooper believed the largest animal that should be humanely taken with that round is a coyote. They are about the size of a German Shepherd. The deer I have seen in Europe are small. The Whitetail deer I see in New Jersey, I consider them to be big, about 180 pounds. (I should convert that to kilograms, but I can’t open multiple windows on this little tablet.)

      Is the 5.56mm X 45mm a fight stopper? I will leave that question up to people who have used it in combat. I will point out that Massad has shown examples where even buckshot did not stop a fight. John Farnam recently used 5.56 NATO on wild hogs in Texas, and he said they worked. Hogs are tough, and some are big.

      One shot stops are probably not a good rule of thumb. We should keep shooting till the threat goes away. However, I want to fire as few rounds as possible, because I think that will look more humane in court. Firing a lot of shots may make the judge think I was trying to kill the suspect.

  15. When the season comes around, I cannot help but think about the hunt from helll with my city raised brother inlaw
    It was pretty obvious he had not been on many hunts, except with he could hunt up in the wife’s and my fridge.
    Probably 5 9 and 3**, so I let my wife talking me into taking him on a deer hunt here in Ohio.
    The morning of the hunt he actually got up in time, me thinks so far so good.
    We get to a relatives farm, and the next thing I know this terrible smell almost makes me puke.
    I look over a see him giving him self a shower spraying from a bottle.
    I get this sheepish grin,he says ” its a deer attracatant.
    Boy was I glad to get out out that car, woooweee what a smell.
    I put my boots on and look over at him and he is struggling to pull these over knee waders on.
    Now came the part that really had me worried. We had about a mile walk through farm fields till we got to the woods.
    All went well for the first half mile. We then came to a plowed field about hundred yards wide to the woods.
    It had been kind of a damp November and if any of you have walked across a plowed field that. is kind of soft, you know the mud sticks to your boots .
    Your boots quickly go from 3 or 4 pounds to what feels like 20 or 30.
    We got through the field, but I thought I was going to have to go back, when I see him breathing like a fish out of water and grabbing his neck to check his pulse. I asked him if he wanted me to call a squad and he said no.
    I was glad to hear that because the poor fellows who would have had to carry him out.
    He finally got his breath back and I found a spot about 50 yards from him and near a tree if I needed to get behind something.
    By now its probably 7:30, and then I head this loud high pitched beeping sound and look over and see him struggling to shut the alarm off on his watch. I just thought the hell with it and crawled under a poncho tried unsuccessfully to sleep.
    Sure enough come 12 noon he hollered for me, saying he was hungry.
    I would have been glad to buy him a couple happy meals just to get back home.
    I had to keep the window part way down, for the smell of deer pee.
    I am not worried about him reading because ” He is for common sense gun safety”.
    Need I say more,and I do here by affirm this testimony is the truth and the whole truth. So help me God.
    I was able to use this against the wife for a few times for some flavors.
    In all seriousness I have lost two friends who fell out of their treestand, so please use your safety harness if you use a stand.
    Thanks for this site Mas.
    Happy Holidays to all. Jimmyk

    • Jimmyk,

      I give your brother-in-law points for knowing he had to cover up his human scent. Too bad it didn’t attract any deer. Just be glad you don’t have anti-hunters in your family. Here in New Jersey, for years we had activists who would demonstrate against bear hunters at the check-in stations. This is because NJ stopped bear hunting from 1970 till sometime in the 1990s. New York and Pennsylvania have always had bear hunts. It may be that the activists have finally given up, because I haven’t heard anything about them this season.

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