Well, Whitetail season in Georgia is over for me. I made my last trip to my lease this weekend. There's still one more week but I won't be able to get out. Work and family keeping me from hunting.
This was my first time hunting anything in over 25 years. I didn't get anything but, to be fair, I deliberately passed some good shots on does hoping to get a buck. I got into the season almost as it started, frantically joining a club, doing a one day scout, picking my spot, using a new rifle I'd barely had time to sight in.
I consider the season a success for the following reasons.
1) I saw deer. I had some very nice does I could have shot but I wanted to see what else would show up if I left them undisturbed. I know deer are there and I can get to a shooting position on them.
2) I definitely heard a buck grunt just before Christmas. He caught some scent he didn't like but wasn't sure of. He skirted the small clearing I overlooked and grunted but never showed himself. Well played sir. See you next season.
3) I am a much better rifle shot now. Outside of some law enforcement qualifying I'd barely touched a rifle since I got out of the army. LE riflery is much shorter range and very different from hunting riflery. Due to my practice for hunting, I am very confident in my rifles and ability out to about 150 yards (the range I have access to only goes to 100). I'll seek to remedy that during the offseason.
4) I learned alot about tracking. I can identify different tracks and some species of trees now. This is something I can continue to work on.
5) I learned about weather forcasting in the field. Still a work in progress but I'm constantly studying and learning more.
6) I've learned what helps attract deer and what doesn't (mostly by doing the wrong things). I've got some land mangement ideas for the off season that will help.
This was a great "first" season. I feel like a young man again with all the new experiences and learning opportunities. It wasn't just about the deer; it was the whole experience. I loved it and can't wait for next season.
You'll notice I didn't talk about the friends at deer camp. For some reason, my trips seemed to correspond to when no one else could make it. I was usually alone or maybe with 1 other person. We joked that everyone was avoiding the new guy. Hopefully I'll have some good stories about that next year like the time they hid a dead rattlesnake under the camper of the policeman just before he went under there to work on something and he launched himself out with a pistol in each hand...
Next up: Teaching my 7 year old to shoot the .22 that Santa Claus brought him and including him in my trips to the property this offseason. Some feral hog hunting and mastering the flintlock rifle my beautiful wife and bright son gave me for my birthday.
Sorry this is so long. I wanted to get it down while it's fresh. I'm curious to read others' comments, reflections, insults or stories.