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Happy Hunting Ground

By Ralph Ricks

Three Bucks A Year? …No Problem.

When Adam Smith of Georgiana looks back on Alabama’s first year of antler limits on the bucks deer hunters in the state can harvest, he thinks it no big deal. The rule is hunters can only harvest three bucks total and one of the three must have at least four points per side. The hunter also must keep a record of his harvest on his person and if he’s caught with more deer than he should have, then there’s trouble.

Adam had a deer season most of us dream about. Adam, 16, lives with his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jamie Smith, on their farm outside of Georgiana. Mr. Smith is a long time customer of Quality Cooperative in Greenville.

Adam’s dream season started in mid-November when deer season began. He harvested some does the first weekend and the second weekend arrived and his luck began to change.

While his granddad was thinking "Iron Bowl" and pulling for his Alma mater –Auburn – in the evening football game, Adam decided it was a good afternoon to walk down to his treestand overlooking a clear-cut near his food plot he and Jamie had planted with seed and fertilizer they had gotten from the Co-op.

Adam Smith with his first buck of the 2007-2008 deer season. The buck was a 10-pointer with a 17½-inch spread.

He patiently sat in his stand knowing from the signs that deer would move from their beds in the cut over timber to the feeding ground. He kept his eyes peeled on both the clock and the deer trail that cut across his area. About ten minutes before dark, he saw movement and saw a deer moving across the field using a trail that is usually filled with does going to get a bite of the wheat, ryegrass and white clover waiting for them nearby. On close inspection, Adam saw it was a buck. Then he realized it was a big buck. As he brought the rifle scope to bear on the deer, it hit him this was a huge buck. A squeeze on the trigger of his .270 Winchester rifle sent a bullet on its way; unfortunately, it missed. The buck took off running but made the mistake of slowing up before he hit the tree line. Adam’s second shot hit the mark and the deer went down. Without even pausing to go and check out the deer, he went to get his uncle, Wayne Harris, to help him with the deer he knew was too big for him to drag out on his own.

Adam’s second buck, a 7-pointer, killed on January 23.

When he and his uncle returned, Adam walked over to where the deer should have been laying. He stepped over a downed tree and literally stepped on the big deer. The death of the deer had been greatly exaggerated as they say and the buck jumped up and took off running. The deer was hit hard and mortally wounded and Adam and his uncle decided they would give the deer time to expire.

When they got back to Mr. Smith’s house, the football game was starting and supper was on the table. Adam and Wayne decided to have a bite to eat while waiting. After about 30 minutes, they went back to the field, followed a good blood trail and found the deer, a huge ten point with a seventeen and one half inch inside spread, a fine trophy by anyone’s standards.

Adam had filled out the first blank on his hunting license.

As the season progressed, Adam had the luxury of being home schooled, so he was able to tailor his lessons around deer hunting. One morning, Adam had been up with the sun and on his stand and it was time to head back to his house for lessons and homework. The food plot he was hunting is visible from his house, which makes Mr. Smith comfortable in 

knowing Adam could go hunting but be close enough to home to keep an eye out for him and be there if needed. Adam finished his schoolwork and was heading back to the food plot. As he stepped off of the porch, he decided to stand on the bed of his truck and take a look into the plot to see if anything was there. As he stood looking, he noticed a doe moving toward the area using a different part of the very same trail his first buck had been following. He decided she would be good to put in the freezer and slipped into a position to take her when the opportunity arose. His last few hundred yards were on his stomach. He was in position and ready to shoot when he noticed the doe was not alone. One shot brought the seven-pointer to the ground and on January 23rd, Adam filled in his second blank on his hunting license. Adam said the doe stood there trying to figure out what had happened to her boyfriend long enough that he could have taken her as well, but he figured one deer was enough to deal with that day.

The last day of January arrived and found Adam, as usual, hunting. This time he was in a shooting house on the property. The morning had been uneventful overlooking his clear cut. Adam suddenly, with no warning, heard a crashing of limbs and brush and a doe came by, using the same trail mentioned, with an entourage of no less than six bucks. Surveying the crowd of deer before him, Adam spotted a young spike with a wounded shoulder. He had nearly hit the same deer the night before with his truck. After spotting the wounded buck, he quickly decided to dispatch the deer to prevent a long slow death. The deer was moving pretty fast and his shot missed. His shot served only to spook the herd of deer out of his stand sight and down into a bottom of the clear cut he was hunting. Having nothing to lose, Adam bailed out of his shooting house and quickly went to a spot where he could see into the bottom where the deer had run. His shot at the spike had scattered the bucks in all directions. One buck had decided this was his opportunity to claim the doe as his own. When Adam got to where he could see down into the bottom, there stood the doe and a nice eight-point buck. As a matter of fact, Adam said the buck was standing there looking at him one hundred and seventy yards away. Milliseconds later, a .270 bullet closed the distance and the buck dropped. It was 12:15 in the afternoon and the 16-inch eight-point had filled the last blank space in his hunting license.

Adam took his last deer of the season, an 8-point buck with a 16-inch spread, on the last day of January.

When he hears criticism of Alabama’s new deer hunting regulations, he scoffs; it hasn’t hurt his deer hunting at all.

His grandfather, Jamie Smith, joked he hoped Santa Claus will bring him a rifle with a straight barrel next year because they don’t have a freezer big enough for all the deer if Adam had hit all of the deer he shot at! Adam just grinned at the comment. Just take a look at his record for this year; he harvested eight deer this year, five un-antlered, three antlered. His three antlered deer have a cumulative total of 25-points!

Good going, Adam, let’s just see what you can do next year.

I hate to do it, but I threatened to ruin his deer hunting pleasure by taking him turkey hunting this spring, I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006