By Scott Pauley
As the early morning sun deliberately rises over the eastern horizon, the soft-glowing light breaks gently through the tree line covering the woods in a reddish-orange hue and dancing shadows.
Every sound of a twig breaking underfoot or the wind rattling the leaves of the nearby pine trees is magnified as the silence of the woods is overwhelming. The anticipation of literally anything walking by is strong enough to make a heart beat so fast and strong that it would seem to be heard for miles.
Oct. 26 marked the opening day for Whitetail Deer hunting season in the northwest region of Florida, which runs through Feb. 23. The season encompasses a multitude of hunting methods started off by archery season and ending in center-fire rifles.
Spencer Bailey, a senior majoring in environmental management, said that his favorite memory of hunting is when he got his first deer, adding, “it felt great. Finally getting your first one under your belt it’s all, well I can’t say it’s smooth sailing, but that adrenaline rush you get keeps you going and keeps you coming back.”
For those who take part in the storied tradition of hunting, autumn brings with it more than just cold weather, earthy colors and weekends slammed full of football. It brings the opportunity to once again feel the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the moment before the arrow leaves the bow on target towards that trophy buck.
What some might not know is that Whitetail Deer are one of the most elusive animals to hunt. They have a keen sense of smell as well as great hearing and vision making camouflage more than just a way to look good in the woods, but an absolute necessity in order to get close enough to shoot a deer.
Tracy Cooley, a senior pre-professional biology major, fondly remembers the day he took a “real nice, 10-point buck” about six years ago. His advice for beating the senses of deer is to remember to mask your scent and stay upwind.
If you are interested in getting started as a hunter a great resource for first timers is myfwc.com, the Florida fishing and wildlife centers website, where you can find not only the laws and regulations but also a blog by hunting and game management community relations manager Tony Young titled “Outta’ the Woods.”
If you do find yourself in a stand this fall looking down on a monster buck try to remember Bailey’s words of wisdom in order to avoid spooking him, “Be very still.”
Good luck and good hunting.