OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
As most of you know, I am an avid deer hunter. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I spend quite a bit of time in the timber during the season but it looks like I need to put more time into scouting and pre-season work.
This year’s bow season was unsuccessful. I saw quite a few deer, both small bucks and does, but I have set a standard in size and work hard at honoring that standard. When bow season starts back up in a couple of weeks I will fill my tags out with does.
Again this season I was mailed a Bowhunter Observation Survey from the Iowa DNR. The DNR ask that I keep track of how often I hunt, how many deer I observed, both antlered and antlerless, as well as wild turkey sightings, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raccoon, opossum skunks, badgers, house cats and river otters.
I enjoy doing the survey and counting deer each time I hunt. So for this year survey, I ended up hunting 20 days for a total of 55 hours. In looking back to 2010, I hunted 19 days and 49 hours. Back in ’09 I hunted 84 hours.
This season I reported seeing 58 bucks, in ’10 it was 48 and in ’09 it was 93. I guess if I want to be more successful, I better spend more time in the woods. Of the 58 bucks, quite a few were the same ones and none were what I consider a shooter. In fact, most won’t be at that level next season.
For does, I saw 182. In ’10 in was 90 and in ’09 it was 157. So the doe count was up quite a bit this year and it did seem that way the days I was sitting in a stand.
Also, we are asked to list deer we were not sure of. I did see 34 deer that I was unable to determine if they were bucks or does.
For the season, I didn’t see many turkeys, only 24. And for the other species, I saw 2 red fox and 4 raccoon. I do have a picture of a coyote on my camera though.
In the end, I did see a total of 274 deer, granted many were probably counted several times. So for every hour I hunted, I witnessed 5.6 deer. In ’10 it was 3.12 deer, in ’09 3.25 and in ’07 6.53.
Now after writing this, shotgun season has come and gone and I struck out there too, although I did get a shot at a really nice buck. Fog, warm weather, dogs and 4-wheelers contributed to part of my unsuccessfulness.
But like I have said many times before, a bad day in the deer woods beats a day at work or plugging away at a honey-do list!