As I move deeper into my 50s, making mental blunders seems to be a more common occurrence these days.
That includes my reporting on the big buck bowhunting scene here in Grayson County, something I’ve tried to faithfully do in this space since whopper whitetails began falling to well placed arrows back in the early-1990s.
In doing that, I’ve endeavored to keep a record book of sorts, a listing I’ve enthusiastically called the Grayson County Whitetail Record Book, a chronicling of the biggest and best bucks to be taken in the local woods. If they’ve been dutifully entered into either the Texas Big Game Awards program, the Pope and Young Club, or the Boone and Crockett Club, those bucks and the hunters who tagged them find their way into the GCWRB.
All that being said, I goofed last week in my 2019 archery season preview, erroneously crediting one really solid local archer and denying credit due to another who recently took one of the biggest bucks ever tagged here in Grayson County.
Here’s how it read last Friday: “And finally, don’t overlook Todd Svane’s 2017 non-typical monster from private ground in Grayson County, a huge buck that scores 225 1/8-inches.”
Everyone that knows Dr. Svane agrees that he is a great guy, a terrific family man, and a pretty good bowhunter. But there’s just one problem with that statement above — while the score is correct, it was actually Todd’s brother Mark who took that monster buck a couple of seasons ago.
Todd alerted me to my mistake with a kind text last week, but I was embarrassed to make such a blunder on the buck that ranks #2 in Grayson County history…by only 6/8-of an inch. So good is Mark Svane’s massive whitetail that only Jeff Duncan’s former archery state record Big Boy is bigger, the latter checking in with a county-best score of 225 7/8-inches.
Sorry about that Mark and Todd. And by the way, thanks for reading!
Making a goof in print can be a sobering experience for a writer but it pales to making a blunder out in the field while bowhunting whitetails. And that thought got me to thinking about a variety of mistakes to avoid as the 2019-20 deer hunting seasons roll on.
First, be sure that you’re legal. While most people know that they need a valid hunting license to legally hunt deer, they sometimes fail to dot all of the I’s and cross all of the T’s as the saying goes with other necessary permits, stamps, endorsements, and hunter safety education proof.
On the subject of your license, if you take a deer in Texas or in some other state, be sure that you properly fill out your tag, correctly tag a deer (some states have very specific tagging regulations), report it or physically check it in if required and meet all requirements for travel, chronic wasting disease testing, proof of sex, etc.
Bottom line, be sure that you annually read the hunting regulations pamphlet (or the same regs on an agency app or website) to stay abreast of new rules and to remain on the right side of the law.
If not being legal is one blunder to avoid, another is to make sure that as the season goes along that your equipment continues to work properly. Every year, bowhunters tell the sad tale of a big miss or a lost deer because bows, sights, and arrows that performed flawlessly in a summertime backyard 3-D session suddenly go awry when the moment of hunting truth arrives on a cool autumn day.
Since bows, arrow rests, fletchings, broadheads and sights can all get jostled and/or damaged through travel, being hauled up into a tree, or through repeated use, regularly shoot your bow in season. Why is that? To make sure that everything remains dialed in to deliver an arrow into a buck’s boiler room!
Next, be sure that you’re prepared to take care of the meat should you be fortunate enough to harvest a deer. While antlers for the wall are a worthy goal, the meat is the trophy that trumps all.
Because of that, be prepared to take care of your venison once an arrow is unleashed. That means having a sharp knife and some knowledge about how to use it as you work to quickly field dress a whitetail and get meat-spoiling heat out of the body cavity. If you need to, watch a how-to video on YouTube.
Aside from dressing the deer, follow all tagging regulations, proof of sex requirements and transport rules, but quickly get that deer chilled down in a refrigerated locker plant or in a big YETI style cooler that is holding a lot of ice.
A final blunder to avoid is in how you preserve the memory of taking your deer. First, be sure that you have a powered up digital camera or a Smartphone ready to record such memories.
Next, pay attention to the foreground, removing limbs, sticks, grass and hunting gear that might get in the way. Also work on positioning the deer properly, noting backgrounds that might contain a myriad of antler blurring limbs, sticks, and vegetation. Be sure to also note the position of the sun, seeking to have it at your back, moving the deer into a shaded area if harsh light demands that. And get close to the subject and the deer, laying down or sitting if necessary to fill up the frame with the hunter and his or her whitetail.
And trust me, take many more photos than you think you’ll need. Thanks to wind moving limbs and vegetation, a subject closing their eyes, subtle movement that causes a blur, and other photo maladies, taking plenty of photos helps ensure that you’ll record that one special image that is clearly better than the rest.
One other note here — when you take photos of downed game, be respectful to the animal and willing to go the extra mile. Clean up the animal with a spray bottle of water and paper towels, cover entry and exit wounds with subtle vegetation, and move the animal if necessary. Doing so can help you to obtain a tasteful image that will look good in a frame as well as present hunting in a positive light when you share the photo in a text or a social media post.
Most of these blunders are easily avoided, as long as you put a little effort and careful thought to work as you chase after antlers for the wall and venison for the freezer. Get these details right, and odds are, you’ll have the bowhunting memory of a lifetime.
And one likely to make you smile for many years to come. As long as the outdoor writer can get the name right in the local newspaper, that is.