If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Thousands of hunters across the state will be in the woods Saturday morning for opening day of deer season. I plan to be one of them, and the approaching hunt made me think about the good old days. I killed my first deer when I was 16 after several unsuccessful years. I had a hard time sitting still in the woods those first few years, but finally connected. I did my part in the years that followed, helping curb the growing population.
One of my best hunting spots was 80 acres of cutover my grandmother owned in the Orwood community. Not long after I got my driver’s license, I started making regular trips to Orwood to hunt. I remember stopping and visiting Hugh Linder at Dees Store on Hwy. 315, between Water Valley and Hwy. 6. When I asked him about deer hunting in the area, he kept a straight face with his response that they were few and far between. The same with another neighbor, Leon McMinn. Both men recalled when there actually were few deer around and were very protective of them.
Years later we would all had a good laugh about those conversations. I saw Mr. Leon in the Water Valley post office not long before he passed away last year, and we still chuckled about it. The truth was there were as many deer around Orwood as anywhere around back then. I shared the hunting grounds with a longtime family friend, Curlee Fox. He died a year ago at 74 and some of you may remember him. He always had a good squirrel dog and lived in Water Valley for a few years when he was school age. He was a pretty good baseball player.
One summer Curlee and I enlisted the help of the Kilgore clan (Betty Shearer’s brothers, Don, Bo and Rance along with Randy Wardlaw) and constructed a tall stand on the tallest hill on that place. The east side of the property was the Panola/Lafayette county line and miles east of Hwy. 315. But if you climbed up in that stand before the sun came up, you could see the headlights from vehicles traveling up and down Hwy. 315. Curlee and I killed a lot of deer out of that stand, and more often than not we were pretty secretive about it. It would come out after every deer season, one of us would fess us to a more productive year than first told.
One year we decided that we were going to be conservationists and limit our harvest to only a couple or three bucks from that 80 acres. Not long after the season opened, I was in the tall stand. I had been warned by Curlee there was a little buck there early every afternoon and not to shoot it. It wasn’t long before the buck showed up and I couldn’t resist. I dragged the deer back up to the trail and went to get my four-wheeler. I was standing at my truck at the gate, taking off my coveralls to cool down after dragging that deer on a hot November afternoon when Curlee pulled up. I quickly started pulling those coveralls back on in reverse motion.
“Headed to the stand,” I told him.
“Don’t shoot that little buck,” he said as he pulled off.
“I won’t,” I replied.
Those were the good days, when hunters bragged on their bucks by the number of points instead of the intricate scoring system used by the big buck hunters today.
Curlee and I started turkey hunting around the same time years later. He was good at it, and we enjoyed the hunts and swapping tales. And it wasn’t unusual for the full truth to come out about a season months after it closed, especially the misses.
Curlee had a lengthy battle with Huntington’s disease before he passed away last November. It didn’t stop him from turkey hunting and the season the year before he passed, he killed two big gobblers with one shot with a .410 shotgun. He was a good hunter.
My success won’t be measured Saturday morning with downing a buck. Just watching the sun come up and cherishing the memories will be enough.