Written in Stone
Greetings from South Georgia! From the tangled vegetation of the Southern swamps to the mountains of North Georgia, it has been a record breaking year for bear hunters in this state. Bear doggers in South Georgia led the way with five bears harvested weighing over 500 pounds. This includes a pair that weighed 598 and 600 pounds. Both of these bears were taken in Clinch County.
One bear hunter almost lost his life in the Clinch County area of the Okefenokee Swamp. The 54 year old bear dogger from Florida was mauled by a 350 pound bear that had been shot three times and presumed dead. He has recovered after multiple surgeries. I also read of a bear that was killed by a car in Clinch County. The bear’s age was estimated at 22 years old.
The oldest ever killed in the state was a 24 year old bear harvested by hunters at Cohutta Wildlife Management Area in 2009.
These are pretty fair numbers for Deep South bears, but the numbers from Pennsylvania are off the chart. In the first week of bear season, they had seven bears harvested that weighed over 700 pounds.
Just about everything that can be hunted is being hunted here; from small game to big game and waterfowl. The unseasonably warm weather has made hunting a challenge. The prolonged drought has depleted many natural water sources. Creeks have run dry for the first time in several years. The week of Thanksgiving saw temperatures pegging out in the mid-80’s.
Insects and reptiles that should have been in hibernation were still a-plenty as we approached December.
The poor ecomony has caused many families to make tough decisions. For us on the farm, it led to clear cutting a tract of hardwood timber. For me, it was tough to watch prime squirrel, turkey, deer and coon habitat roll out on the back of logging trucks. The area was a favorite of mine for guiding competition coon hunts. Races were always short and quick and the trees easy to walk to. For Kallie, our oldest little one, it was tougher to see a piece of property that had been a constant in her life for 27 years altered forever. She probably knew every tree back there and it was a favorite place of hers to deer hunt.
The contract was signed during the summer but somehow I knew the loggers would arrive in the fall during deer season. Deer stands were relocated and three weeks before Thanksgiving the loggers arrived. The sounds of chainsaws and log trucks greeted us six days a week from dawn until dusk. Kallie insisted on hunting back there even while the land was being stripped out. She knew she could hunt anywhere on the farm, but she chose to stay in that head of woods or now lack of woods.
Day turned into weeks as hunt after hunt produced not one sighting of a deer from her stand.
Thanksgiving Day arrived and it is a special holiday for our family. This holiday includes the Veatch family reunion and a chance for us to visit with our youngest little ones who now live in that strange place known as Atlanta. The reunion is a chance for a good meal and for the old timers to do some “storytelling.”
When this family gets together, a whole lot of storytelling happens.
Some of these stories have been handed down for generations. Sometimes these stories are slightly embellished or stretched or remembered just a little differently.
As we grow up, we realize there is no such thing as “black painters” and “hog bears” roaming these woods. Those ole “hog bears” make for a better story than do possum or raccoon. It is also our custom to eat too much, talk too much, take a good nap, watch some football and then head out to the deer stands. Once again, Kallie chose that barren patch of land that was once her paradise on the farm. I think all of us saw plenty of deer that evening but Kallie was the only who actually harvested a deer on Thanksgiving.
Kallie placed one shot in the only deer that she had seen from that stand since the loggers arrived. Oh my, what a deer it was!
If the official score matches the unofficial score, then Kallie’s buck will be one of the top six ever killed in Sumter County, GA.
This county is one of the top 20 buck producing counties in a state that has produced more Boone and Crockett deer than anywhere in the Southeast. The picture I have attached to this article says it all!
I have a lot to be thankful for this year. “Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near they wondrous works declare.” (Psalm 75:1-3)
Until next month, God bless, safe hunting and keep reading Full Cry.