by Mia Anstine
I often visit with friends to discuss why they hunt and what it means to them. It’s an overall consensus that putting food on the table ranks high on the “reasons for hunting” list. Some hunters follow that up with outdoor experience being their primary reason to hunt. I enjoy passing along our heritage to the next generation. Another highlight, in the back of many hunters’ minds, is the responsibility of wildlife management.
Without the management of our wildlife, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to view, much less hunt wildlife. Over the years, wildlife managers have learned that there is more to managing healthy populations than solely protecting animal species. Wildlife officials, with the hunter’s help, maintain herd sizes, habitat and food supplies for all animals.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that hunters fund nearly 75% of the annual income for all 50 state conservation agencies. Through license fees and excise taxes on arms and gear, sportsmen contribute $200 million per year to wildlife conservation. This conservation effort allows us to enjoy our hunting lifestyle. Through our labors, we are able to sit around the campfire and share our tales. So, enjoy these Whitetail Tales.
Doing it on My Own: Alberta, Canada
Colin MacPherson, age 13
It was a warm afternoon when we pulled into my uncle’s yard. After a short visit, I put all my hunting gear on and was ready to go. I made my way through the yard and across the field, keeping my eyes peeled for any activity in the bush. I stopped every 50-yards to have a look through the binoculars. I made it down to the stand and got all set up in a noisy old chair from about 1970.
Soon a decent sized whitetail buck came walking out. It passed the blind at about 25 yards. I quickly opened the window and got Uncle Jason’s Tikka T3 .300 Winchester Magnum set up. The buck heard the window, and was looking right at me. I held still until he moved on, but he knew something was up. He walked quickly, so I gave a quick grunt. He stopped, but his vitals were right behind a tree. I waited until he continued walking. He stopped and ate grass, but never in a clear shooting lane.
The buck made his way behind a thick group of spruce trees, and I thought I had lost him until I saw a doe walk out in front of the blind. I figured he would see the doe and make his way closer to her. Sure enough, he did. He walked about 5-yards out of the spruce trees. I grunted at him again. He turned his chest right to me. I didn’t hesitate. I gave him the 180-grain bullet right through the chest at about 50-yards. He only made it about 10-yards before hitting the ground. I waited for the doe to walk away, and then I was able to see what I had gotten. He was a good buck with tall brow tines, and he was pretty thick. He was my second buck, but I am proud because he was my first on my own.
First Big Game Hunt: Texas
Cortland Bassett (aka CB), age 9
Alan, CB’s father, tells us Jacksboro, Texas is where Cortland got the opportunity to hunt for his first whitetail buck. He went to Mr. Ron’s Ranch, which is an open range, low-fenced ranch of about 600 acres. It was late December and an early Christmas Present.
We had been hunting all day, took a break, and then decided to start our evening hunt. We drove out to a blind on the property behind some horse corrals. It was about 30 degrees; we were wet to the bone and cold from a constant rain all day. We hurried to get into the blind, which overlooked a small opening through the trees. We weren’t in the blind two or three minutes when CB spotted a doe meandering through the woods about 40-yards in front of the blind. He kept asking me “Should I shoot it, should I shoot it?” I told him to have some patience. Not 30-seconds later, he blurted out “Buck, Dad. Big buck!” I hadn’t even gotten the hinges down to allow him to take a shot yet. Heck, we had only been there four or five minutes.
Mr. Ron was with us and told me to move slowly to get the window open. I slowly flipped back the hinges and grabbed the window. In the blink of an eye, CB propped the Savage 22.250 in the sill and bang! The buck was 75-yards out, which was perfect placement for the novice hunter. The buck gave a quick hop and dropped. CB claimed his trophy, a big, heavy, mature whitetail. I was so happy I cried!
Whitetail Populations Overcoming Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease: Nebraska
After the 2012 EHD episode in central Nebraska, we weren’t sure what we would, or wouldn’t find in 2013. At first, we thought it was definitely what we wouldn’t find. The only whitetail sheds we came across in 2013 were either a couple years old or really small. So, we kept thinking our numbers were way down. Slowly, a few shooter bucks began to show up on our game-cameras and our worst fears were eased, at least a little.
On the fourth day of the Nebraska rifle season, my husband, Sam, and I headed up to one of our favorite spots to sit for the evening. We usually glass for bucks coming out of the sandhills, down to the river. As we turned the corner to head into the pasture, Sam noticed a doe running in, out of the tree grove ahead of us. We knew our chances were good that she would have something with headgear right behind her. In a matter of seconds, an awesome, typical buck stepped out and confirmed our theory. I was able to settle my crosshairs right behind his shoulder and squeeze off the shot. He humped up and jumped into the trees. The buck was an awesome typical with great beams and no broken tines.
This harvest may not have been my biggest scoring trophy, but we were happy to find out that we still had a good population of mature whitetails that had survived the EHD battle from the year before.
Mia Anstine is an outfitter, guide, hunter, mentor, firearms and archery instructor. Among other publications, she is a staff writer for Beretta USA, Women’s Outdoor News and guest at North American Hunter. As a public speaker she teaches and inspires others to get involved in outdoor activities. She takes pride in guiding ladies and children for their first hunts. She’s hunted elk, mule deer, black bear, turkey, game birds, waterfowl, predators, varmints, hogs, carp and has more on her bucket list. To learn more about Mia, visit her website at www.MiaAnstine.com.