Every time a pivotal election rolls around, a few politicians in rural states come out with ads that tout them as “avid hunters,” even though they have not purchased a hunting license for many years or even a decade or more. To avid hunters like you and me, who do buy a hunting license every year, these people immediately become posers, caricatures, “Elmer Fudds” as people in the gun industry call them.
This year, with the U.S. Senate up for grabs, I give you the latest two Fudds.
The Tennessean reports that until the 2018 election year, Democrat Phil Bredesen, who is locked in a heated battle with Republican Marsh Blackburn for the Senate seat in Tennessee, had not bought a hunting license for 12 years:
Last month, Bredesen obtained a one-year sportsman license for hunting, trapping and sport fishing just weeks ahead of the start of dove hunting season. Prior to that, Bredesen last had a combo hunting and fishing license in 2006, when he was re-elected to his second term as governor.
Bredesen then went out to a dove field for a few hours (note the guy helping and instructing him in the linked photos, I found that telling) and afterwards his staff tweeted:
“I went dove hunting to mark the first day of the season. If you’re an avid sportsman like I am…”
I don’t know any avid sportsman who goes 12 years between hunting licenses, do you?
But for my money, here’s the Fudd of the 2018 election year, as reported by Fox News:
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a red state Democrat running for re-election in one of the closest Senate contests this year, has campaigned as a big hunting proponent, sending out mailers to voters that show him on his farm with his gun in hand.
“As we gear up for hunting season, Montanans know that hunting isn’t just a sport – it feeds our families, and it creates lifelong memories with our kids and grandkids,” Tester says in the campaign flier. “Montanans are lucky to have some of the best access, longest seasons and greatest hunting in the world.”
But according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks records reviewed by Fox News, Tester hasn’t had a hunting license in six years. He last had one in 2012 – the same year he was last on the ballot.
Records dating back to 2002 indicate that the agency had no records of Tester having a hunting or fishing license for 12 out of the last 16 years.
In response, a Tester spokesman said, “Running a farm and defending Montana in the U.S. Senate doesn’t leave much time for hunting.”
According to the Fox report, Tester’s campaign went on to say that the senator kills gophers on his farm because they’re pests and shoots cows and pigs because he likes to eat them. The spokesman said Tester doesn’t need a hunting license for that.
Shoots cows and pigs? Doesn’t need a license for that? Please, give us some credit!
Look, we avid hunters out here in the real world really don’t give a damn if you hunt or not. If you are legit and do, great, but we can spot an Elmer Fudd a short rifle shot away.
What we do care about is your position on guns–do you support our Second Amendment?
Afterthought: It is incredible to me how out of touch politicians can be. If one thinks he or she might someday campaign on hunting, why don’t they just purchase a resident hunting license every year (maybe $20 and less than $50 most everywhere). That way they could always say even though I’m too busy running the country to hunt, I did my part to help support the state coffers and conservation. Still an Elmer Fudd, yes, but much better messaging.
Forget the rut for now. The first days of your archery season in September or October can be a great time to whack a 10-pointer. The bucks are relatively docile and locked into their summer/early fall bed-to-feed patterns. So long as you don’t press them too hard, they’ll keep moving reasonably well at dawn and dusk. Tweak these setups to your land and tag out early.
The Choke Point
One September I hunted in sprawling alfalfa and corn country where you could see deer coming and going for miles. The only way to have a fighting chance with a bow in a big spot like that is to narrow the country down, way down.
During the middle of the day when the deer were inactive, I looked around for two hours and sized things up. Then I tucked a tree stand back in a shady edge where a tractor path crossed a strip of weeds. There was a thin strip of timber upwind of my stand, and another strip 40 yards east of the farm road. I figured any deer that came off the alfalfa the next morning would gravitate to this choke point. If a shooter walked through there…
An hour after dawn, I glassed two racks a mile away. It took them a while to get to me. Around eight o’clock, the bucks hit the dirt road and walked down it. They turned, took the weed funnel between the tree strips and walked broadside 30 yards below. I nailed the 8-pointer in the lead.
To me, bowhunting for whitetails is all about edges and choke points, or spots where old roads, strips of trees, pockets of weeds and other terrains and covers converge. The more of these “fringe areas” the better. Deer walk the edges year-round, and they especially use them when traveling to and from food sources in archery season. Set up where three or four strips and edges meet, and you’re apt to smoke a good buck like I did that morning.
Corner a Buck
Anytime I hunt a crop field I look for the nearest fence and walk it out to the corners. You can never scout too much, just be low-impact about it. Inevitably I find a corner with a lot of deer sign—tracks, a trail and maybe tufts of hair on the barbed-wire where deer are jumping it.
A fence corner is a natural place for deer to travel, and a natural spot for you to set up. A prime corner to hunt will have lots of brushy cover, and at least one stout tree nearby for a stand. But if the sign is there and cover is sparse, I’ll play the wind and set up a small brush blind 35 yards or so off the corner. On the ground makes it tougher…and all the sweeter if you stick your buck in the corner.
The National Deer Alliance (NDA) recently held a Velvet Buck Photo Contest, and not surprisingly Dennis Money’s shot of this New York albino buck took first place. Dennis’ grand prize was a Bear Legion compound bow package.
Second place went to Jeffery Antes, who captured this Michigan buck working a lick branch, with what I assume is a buck fawn looking on, hoping to learn the scraping ropes. Bucks make and use scrapes in July more than most people realize.
BTW, you need to join the NDA, whose mission is to monitor current events in the deer-hunting world. CWD, new state laws, conservation, anti-hunters… This organization is dedicated to keeping us informed, to benefit America’s deer herds and to protect our hunting heritage. It’s free to join. You’ll receive a weekly newsletter with all sorts of current deer information and photos.