Shall we say, I was a bit shaken—perhaps better described as shaking!
Moments earlier I had stepped on a cottonmouth moccasin. Cottonmouths scare me! It had been lying right next to several dark oak limbs and blended in perfectly.
Admittedly, I had not really been watching the ground. I was slipping quietly through tall grass and weeds next to the normally dry creek, which winds through my property looking for whitetails.
I was thankful I had been wearing “snake leggings,” which I don religiously whenever on my property spring to early fall because of the possibility of snake encounters and because of briars and brambles. The slithery, aggressive serpent had struck my legging just above my ankle before making good an escape into dense ground cover. My leggings had protected me from the snake’s bite.
Too, before leaving home I sprayed the leggings and my boots thoroughly with Sawyer’s Permethrin. I knew doing so would help me avoid being eaten upon by chiggers or red bugs. As my friend Jim Zumbo says, “I’d rather face a mad mother grizzly than get bitten by chiggers!”
I had all but forgotten about the three does and their five less-than-two-weeks-old fawns. While the fawns nursed, the does munched on Smilax leaves from vines I had fertilized in February. Among other things that morning I planned to check where to plant spring and early summer Tecomate forages. Throughout the rest of the day I used one eye to look for deer, the other to look where I stepped.
I also wanted to check on some other plantings I had done. Throughout the hunting season I carried a walking stick and a bag filled with persimmon seeds, pecans, and white oak acorns. As I walked throughout my property I poked holes in the ground dropped in one of the three different “seeds”. Then I took a few steps and repeated the process. I wanted to see if any had sprouted. Many had.
In time, those seedlings would produce a tremendous amount of food and cover, not only for whitetail deer but also many other wildlife species. I know it might take many years for my efforts to produce mast crops. However, I have always believed one should leave any property where one is involved to be better because of having been there.
I glassed the does and fawns. I hoped the majority of them would survive. During February and March, I had removed four coyotes from my and adjoining property. My combination of Ruger rifles, Trijicon scopes and Hornady ammo had proved deadly on the potential fawn killers.
Three of the coyotes had responded to my hand-blown call made by Chris Treiber. The fourth—or actually the first one—I had shot while it chased four does in early January. That one was a big male which weighed 62-pounds on our ranch scales.
The work of a wildlife manager/hunter is never really done. More coyotes need to be taken, possibly a bobcat as well. Recently I have seen tracks of three different spotted feline predators. It’s time to ensure fawn survival. The future of the deer herd and quality hunting depends on fawns surviving and living into the older age classes.
Are you doing your part?
Email Larry Weishuhn at [email protected]