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Deer Season So Far


ccording to the cell phone photos I’ve seen lately of smiling hunters with their bucks from the B and C zones, the deer season currently underway isn’t a complete bust. At the same time, it isn’t as good as 2013 when it was stormy on opening weekend, and deer were on the move.

As it looks right now, I expect the total harvest in 2014 to be lower than last year with the timing of weather events the main culprit.

There are other things to consider as well. The current drought has been hard on the summer range food supply of deer, and the acorn crop at lower elevations is nothing to shout about this year, whereas there was a bumper crop last fall. So far, there was one period of drenching rain this season and we’re all thankful for it. However, it didn’t seem to improve hunting dramatically as many of us hoped. Some of the toughest hunters, backpackers and horse people alike, failed to see many deer in the Trinity Alps Wilderness even during the cool, rainy weather.

John Higley, with buck
It isn't the biggest deer, but I'm happy with the 3x3 I got near Hayfork Summit the Sunday before last. Photo by author

A couple guys I know camped out for four days, and the only thing they got for their effort was wet. Oh, sure, they saw two does and found a one way migration trail pounded with tracks all going downhill.

According to my son Mark, who has hunted there for 20 years, the oak brush on the west side of the Trinities had no acorns at all and most of the other browse plants were sun scorched. Mark hunted his favorite spot on opening weekend and he did see a few deer. but nothing like the number he expects to see in that area. In addition to a few does, he saw one legal forked horn buck and decided to let it go.

Photo by John Higley, Man with binoculars looking out over the treed hills
Author's son-in-law Robert had his eye on some does when this photo was taken. Unfortunately there were no bucks with them. Photo by author

On the second Sunday of the season, during a hunt near Hayfork Summit with my son-in-law Robert Feamster, we came upon two legal bucks feeding in a patch of whitethorn at 8:30 in the morning. They weren’t big deer, but the 3x3 I killed was in fine shape and the meat will be the main course of many winter meals. I have another B tag so I will hunt a few more times, but I promise any average buck will be safe from me from now on. That being the case, I may have a tag left over at season’s end, and I really don’t care.

It will be interesting to see how things develop in the coming days. Hot weather or cool, the deer have to be somewhere. The trick is for us to put ourselves in the right place at the right time to intercept a legal buck. If the temperature lowers somewhat that may be an easier task than it is now but, really, it’s never a slam dunk. The important thing is that we have a tag, a place to hunt and get out there and try.

Author and writer John Higley is a resident of Palo Cedro, CA. His articles have appeared in Outdoor California and other fishing and hunting journals. He is the author of two books: “Hunting Wild Turkeys In the West” and “Hunting Blacktail Deer.”

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