Deer Season is Over...and I Lived Through it Again!

I don't know how it is in your state, but, in the state of Georgia the opening of deer season here every year is akin to a religious experience. The Sunday morning before gun season begins, you will hear deer hunting mentioned from many of the pulpits in our southern churches. I'm not saying it's good or bad, and I'm sure Georgia is not alone in its reverence for the opening of hunting season. As the years have gone by, I, as a surveyor, have had to deal with hunting and wildlife as part of my job, and I have come to look differently on this sport. I have to admit, I get a little chill when I realize I'm fixin' to have to go into survival mode for a while!

When I was a kid, I couldn't wait for deer season to open. I dreamed of big bucks walking out in front of me on opening day. The problem was in my dreams my gun wouldn't fire or the deer would turn into my high school English teacher and start yelling at me or some other crazy scenario. In real life, or my dreams, I never did kill that monster buck.

I grew up and became a surveyor because I loved the outdoors … and because my dad made me! So, even though I've spent more time than most hunters have ever dreamed of spending in the woods, my deer hunting time began to suffer because family and work took over.

As the years went by, opening morning of deer season would come and go and I didn't give it a second thought, unless I happened to be surveying on opening day in some area where deer hunting was apt to be going on. That's when I learned a whole different way of deer hunting. Maybe deer avoiding is a better way to describe it.

Some of my surveying/deer encounters have been quite comical. While hunting with a gun, I could never get that big buck in my sights. Heck, to tell the truth, I barely ever saw a big buck when I was hunting.

I found out the best way to find a monster buck was to get in my survey truck, drive into the woods on an old logging road, get out slamming truck doors and yelling at my instrument man to wake up, be sure to make lots of noise stomping through the woods, stop two or three times and talk to my crew while at least one of them smokes a cigarette, then when I least expected it … Bang! Somebody would shoot close by and then a dang monster buck followed by a herd of does would come chargin' outta' the brush and spin us like a top! The crew and I would end up on the ground lookin' like a cattle camp after the herd had stampeded through it wipin' out the chuck wagon!

I've thought about callin' up the Deer Killer TV show and see if they wanted to follow me through the woods and film one of their hunting shows. If it worked out, that would be a heck of a show. Instead of shooting a monster buck from the comfort of a heated tree house, they might actually capture footage of a monster buck coming at the TV screen full speed and knocking me, the crew, the cameraman, survey equipment, and all for a loop! I'd say it would be a lot more entertaining than watching some guy while he selects which of the six monster bucks he prefers to shoot from the comfort of his $10,000 shooting house.

The truth is, I have had three very large bucks come within 20 feet of me while I was surveying. I am talking about sure enough wall hanging trophies. One of those I actually thought about throwing my machete at. Then I realized how big it was, and how many horns it had, and how close it was to me, and how much I hate the sight of blood (especially my own). So, I decided against tryin' that machete kill thing.

I'd be willing to bet there are many hunter/surveyors out there that have had their closest encounters with deer, bear, alligators, moose, elk, mountain lions, or you name it, while surveying. I don't know what it is, but I have heard surveyor after surveyor tell unbelievable stories of encounters with wildlife that Animal Planet would pay plenty for if they were caught on tape.

I know a surveyor who was put up a tree by a bull moose and couldn't get down for more than eight hours! At least that was his story anyway. Since I've become a survey manager I've become a little suspicious of that story. Fortunately, I have never had a field crew use a similar story on me … yet.

Of course I've only talked about the animal danger so far. The real danger that exists for a surveyor in the woods during hunting season is the guy named Bubba with a high powered rifle and an itchy trigger finger. A rutting buck is small potatoes compared to a rutting Bubba.

Whenever I'm surveying in these potential hunting areas, I always look for signs as to whether Bubba is in the woods. I have learned it's not hard to spot a Bubba trail. He usually drives an old beat-up four-wheel drive and leaves a trail of Slim Jim wrappers and Red Man chewing tobacco pouches in the general direction of the way he is traveling.

If I find a fresh Bubba sign, I immediately vacate the area. I have learned that a Bubba will shoot if they see you too close to their beloved truck. He is, for sure and certain, your biggest concern during hunting season. He will shoot at anything that moves in the woods and claim he thought you were a deer no matter how much you don't resemble one.

I did a survey one time that was so remote, we had to use horses. The problem was we were using horses during deer season. One of my partners in our survey party got his horse shot right out from under him by a guy named Bubba who thought it was a deer. I thought my partner handled it remarkably well when he told Bubba, "Please don't point that gun at me and listen sir! I'm not claiming your kill! You can have the dang...uh...deer! Just let me get the saddle off of it before you start field dressing it!"

If I had only known when I was a kid that all it takes to attract a big buck is a survey crew makin' a bunch of noise—I believe I would have been a lot more anxious to follow my dad into the woods …

About the Author

  • Tommy Woodsmall, PLS
    Tommy Woodsmall, PLS
    Tommy W. Woodsmall is a registered land surveyor in Georgia and vice president of Development Consultants Group in Duluth, Georgia.

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