A few years back the MDC sent out this news release… “Warm weather is one factor being cited by Missouri’s deer expert in continuing to a drop in the number of deer shot by hunters.”

A few years later they had a different result and said this…”A high deer harvest on opening weekend took place because the unseasonably warm weather allowed hunters to stay in the woods longer, and hunting hours significantly increased because of it.”

Boy how things change. The news is out that in the 2016 regular deer season the number of deer killed is lower than expected. With that warm weather we had I expected the deer “harvest” to be high.

When there’s a moon that bright at night during the season, places that have high hunting pressure see deer becoming nocturnal. But with so many acorns, I found deer to be so fat I can hardly believe it. Of course, I also planted some unharvested grain on my place and they’ve feasted on that, too. My daughter killed a buck recently and when we butchered it we cut off bucketfuls of fat.

The reduction of that nine-day season for does is a good move. This year it is a three-day season for does and hundreds of bucks will be killed illegally during that season. The doe season was instigated after meetings with big insurance companies who were disturbed about the number of car-deer accidents. Rather than accepting the fact that automobiles on the highway had nearly doubled in 20 years, they blamed it on too many deer. That doe season was a poor answer.

It took them long enough, but they are beginning to figure that out. A wiser plan is to sell each hunter, a buck and a doe tag, and keep the present nine-day regular season. Then if they want, they can open another weekend for deer hunting, but not for just does only.

  Antler hunters, who know that a big rack might bring several thousand dollars, won’t watch one walk past them. They can take it home, call in and report a buck killed during the bow-season, at no risk. Unbelievably, about 10 years ago I saw a hunter with a buck and a doe in his pickup during the doe-only season. He had checked the doe on his gun tag, and the same afternoon, checked the buck on a bow tag. That nine-day doe season has made it really impossible for anyone to know the true harvest of deer the past few years. But I don’t really imagine it makes much difference to today’s MDC what the harvest is. You can bet your hunting boots they know exactly what revenue they get from the sales of all types of deer tags, and the more they sell, the better the deer season, no matter what the harvest drops,

In reality, there is no such thing as a state deer herd or “deer management.” This year the MDC became worried about the reduction of deer numbers. But the number of deer will never drop to the near-extinction times of the 1930 Ozarks. The people of that day were hungry country people who pretty much lived off the land. Today, there aren’t many who need to kill all the deer and turkey they can, as those folks did.

A lot of today’s deer hunters are so trophy oriented they won’t kill does or small bucks. There aren’t many hungry hunters now, and because of that, you will never see deer numbers threatened in the Ozarks. We have a bunch of them, and even with chronic wasting disease, I think we will have as long as there is habitat for them. Bulldozers may wipe them out someday… hunters won’t.

I have always been fascinated with old things from way back in the Ozarks past. I still have boat paddles in my office my grandfather made in the ‘20’s. The other day I got a handful of change from a McDonalds transaction involving a fried pie and amongst those coins I found a wheat leaf penny made in 1919. I have a gallon jar full of old wheatleaf pennies, not worth anything to anyone but me, but I have never found one that old.

I put it in my billfold to bring me good luck while I was hunting and fishing, but so far I’ve had the same old luck I have always had, which I’m not saying has always been bad, but just ordinary, like everyone else’s luck, and certainly nothing to brag about.

I am looking for some consequential event in my life to tell me that penny is a good luck charm, and if it doesn’t happen soon then I will put it in that jar with the rest of them and look again for some four-leaf clovers.

While I am not in the least superstitious, there are some things a man can’t deny. If you swing a dead cat around your head in a cemetery at midnight in a full moon, you can put an awful hex on another deer hunter just by chanting his name for a few seconds while you swing the cat. But who would do that, just to see somebody never get another deer? Certainly no one I know? It isn’t that easy nowadays to find a fresh-killed cat anyhow and I can hardly stay awake past 9 p.m.

Last summer, a black cat ran across the road in front of me, and I considered backing up and going into town via another roundabout route. But just then, it ran back across the road to the ditch where it came from in the first place, bringing me much relief, as anyone knows that the latter action of a black cat retracing his steps will negate the bad luck of the former.

Of course anyone who really believes that a black cat crossing your path will bring you bad luck is a little bit crazy as I see it. That is a bunch of hogwash. But why take chances if you can get to town via another route that only takes an extra 15 minutes?

Anyway, if you have a relative that is silly enough to be superstitious, last year just after the rabbit season I ended up with a stack of about 40 rabbits feet. I am just giving them away because years ago I knew a guy who hunted rabbits a lot and he sold several of his rabbits feet for a dollar apiece. Only then did he find out from his great grandmother that it is bad luck to sell rabbits feet and within a week he fell off a stump and cracked the stock on his shotgun.

So my advice is, ignore superstitions. But cling to common sense traditions and perhaps buy my new book for a Christmas gift for someone or perhaps yourself, an act that will make the New Year better for someone who likes to read and bring you good luck at the same time.

I know a guy who has bought his wife one of my books each year for the past five or six years and he has killed a nice deer each of those years right after Christmas with a bow. And his wife helps him make jerky every year and you can’t deny that a man like that is lucky. Although I will say she gets a little bit uglier each year. And that reminds me that there is an old saying that the uglier a man’s wife gets, the luckier he gets. That certainly hasn’t been the case with me, mine is beautiful. And my luck just stay’s ordinary.

Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email lightninridge@windstream.net. If you want to reserve one of those rabbits foots call Ms. Wiggins here at the office, 417/777-5227. We cannot mail them however, as it is bad luck to mail any part of a dead wild creature.