No deer this year

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What was for dinner last night? Venison? Or tag stew?

Like many area hunters, I didn’t shoot a deer this year.

I had a chance the first week when a deer kept its head down so long my barrel started doing circles.

After years of chewy bucks, I promised my wife “doe only”, so I just waited too long to pull the trigger.

Friends report seeing few deer. Old-timers cite wolves and mountain lions for fewer deer, while FWP continues to play the “series of harsh winters” tune.

One factor rarely cited is behavior of the whitetail deer itself.

Over 50 years ago, when I was a grad student at the University of Idaho, several hundred students, were bussed one Saturday afternoon to a fenced, one-mile square study site.

We stretched out in a straight line along the fence on one side of the enclosure.

We were given a pad of paper and pencil to mark down any deer that ran between us and the person on our right.

After walking a mile, we filed along the far fence, dropping our pads in barrels for tally.

The land was gentle, easy hiking, similar to the Whitefish Trails area.

Biologists later told us there were 21 deer trapped in the study site.

Hundreds of loud, crazy college kids, organized into one long line and lured by promises of hot dogs and cold beverages, saw ONE deer!

Go figure!!!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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