The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Beginners luck

first day of hunting season

Today was the first day of regular deer hunting season around here.

I noticed two eating our parsley plants around lunch time and decided to get the gun.

The biggest one took off like a flash, but the smaller one hesitated at following what may have been his mom for just a second when he saw me. He leaped over the garden fence and landed in the narrow chicken pasture enclosure by the coop. He tried a few times to jump over the second fence but couldn't get enough of a running start to clear it. I know it wasn't very sportsmanlike of me, but I got as close as I could, braced myself on a large stump and killed my first deer, which turned out to be a small buck with no antlers.

We spent the rest of the afternoon dressing it out.

One less garden predator and some fresh pasture fed venison to go in the freezer equals a pretty good day in my book.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Congratulations! Don't feel bad: you helped keep the herd healthy by eliminating some genes for "Slow & Dumb."

You may find this essay amusing:

Comment by doc Sat Nov 19 17:19:16 2011
That's a pretty funny blog post. And so true! We've tried so many people to hunt on our land and been unhappy with pretty much all of the results. I guess if you want those deer dead, you have to do it yourself....
Comment by anna Sat Nov 19 20:38:33 2011
Great Job... Never feel bad about putting food on the table or in the freezer... But do not tell you killed a buck with no horns, might be against the law. Remove that part from your post and you can remove this last part from mine. So proud of you:-)
Comment by Jeff Sat Nov 19 21:24:39 2011

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! It's fun to hunt, although people who don't hunt never understand that the chore has only begun once you kill the buggers.

Second, sportsmanlike my ass. Deer are not very smart animals. If I could hunt out my back door like you did, I'd do it all season long. The herd is now as large as it was when the pilgrims first set step on plymouth rock. Many are killed and injured every year in car accidents. And, as you've mentioned, they like to nibble on our food. If you get an easy shot at something that's hurting your yield, I say you take it and that's the most sportsman thing you can do. Millionaires can go seek their bullshit sportsman trophies of ram sheep in the Rockies. I'll keep filling my freezer with tasty, yet dumb, bambies.

Finally, young deer will produce a smaller yield, but a much more tender type of meat. So I think your entrance into hunting is a trifecta! Again, congratulations and I hope you enjoy some venison stew very soon!

Comment by Anonymous Sat Nov 19 21:50:11 2011

Jeff --- Each state (and each county within the state) has their own rules. In our county, the whole rifle season is either-sex deer hunting. (See for other Virginia areas.) In all of Virginia, antlerless bucks can be killed any time you could kill does:

"Button bucks or male fawns will have bumps or knobs, known as pedicels, where the antlers will grow but the bumps or knobs do not break the skin or protrude above the skin. The skin is covering the entire pedicel. These look like buttons on the deer's head thus the therm button bucks. Button bucks are considered antlerless deer and are tagged with an either-sex deer tag or an antlerless deer tag." (From

So, no worries about an antlerless buck!

Anonymous --- That's exactly how I feel --- good food on the freezer is what really matters. Our region actually has considerably more deer than were here when the settlers landed, and our game and fisheries department is actively working to increase our deer population. So I say anything that lowers the numbers of deer is good. Too bad we're not good enough shots to get all 10 deer we could legally kill during rifle season. That would be a pretty long week, but would provide just about all the red meat we'd need for a year.

Comment by anna Sun Nov 20 07:55:47 2011

Ten deer? Wow! That is a lot of red meat! Definitely make some summer sausages!

Here in Japan, if you can get a licence (which is really hard to do) you can take as many as you can shoot. Deer, boar, pheasant, duck, no limits. but like I said, very few people can/want to get a licence.

I just hope that someone comes and takes care of my wild boar problem. Buggers love any kind of root crop- which means all of the fall garden...

Comment by Eric in Japan Sun Nov 20 08:21:18 2011

I agree --- even if all ten deer are quite small, that would fill up a small chest freezer like ours completely!

I read about your wild boar on your blog --- terrible! It's funny how every part of the world has their own bane. In Australia, it seems to be cockatoos and a South African homesteader I read battles baboons and monkeys! Puts my deer woes in perspective.

Comment by anna Sun Nov 20 09:33:49 2011

The bane of my garden here in Australia (just south of Sydney) is bower birds. They eat anything with young and tender leaves (lettuce, silver beet, even bean leaves) and pretty much all kinds of fruit (tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, etc). They're beautiful birds, and protected by law, so all we can do is try to net against them. They're smart enough to climb under nets, though, so it's not easy!

Cockatoos come occasionally and strip our citrus trees - they destroy whole fruits just to eat the seeds in the centre. Happily, they learn which trees have seedless fruit and leave them alone.

I used to live further down the coast, where kangaroos were a real problem. Very similar to your deer, I suspect.

I'm just glad I don't have to deal with elephants or any kind of primates. They'd be difficult!

Comment by Darren (Green Change) Sun Nov 20 16:28:42 2011
Oh, and big congrats on the buck! I'm super jealous!
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Sun Nov 20 16:30:11 2011
Bowerbirds! Now there's a garden predator I hadn't heard of before! Fascinating that the cockatoos are smart enough to learn which trees have seedless fruit.
Comment by anna Sun Nov 20 20:11:01 2011
Are you doing anything with the hide? I wonder if a deer-like scarecrow make a good deterrent next year?
Comment by J Sun Nov 20 20:18:36 2011
I'm ashamed to say we wasted the hide because we didn't want to go to the trouble of tanning it. In retrospect, I almost wish we'd tried --- maybe next time!
Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 08:34:34 2011
Congrats on getting rid of one pest. In the city my problem are squirrels, cute little agents of evil who dig up seedlings. Because I am in such a high density area, guns are not practical. However I do dream of other ways of grabbing the little buggers and turning them into stew.
Comment by Marie Mon Nov 21 08:52:23 2011
How about live traps? You might need heavy gloves, but you can then take the squirrels out and make stew. We've actually pondered live traps just to see if we could catch rabbits and squirrels out of our woods --- seems like a more sure bet than shooting. And if I lived in the city, I'd definitely try trapping pigeons, which are so abundant because they were raised as food animals not long ago.
Comment by anna Mon Nov 21 09:08:18 2011

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