(Author's Note: Mr. Hunting Expert is a world-renowned authority on ALL things hunting. He has compiled a staggering mound of fan mail from those dancing in the street praying for the chance to lick the Tinks 69 from his Gore-Tex boots. For a fortunate few souls, he has graciously donated his time to answer their dithering questions.)
Q. I joined an 800 acre hunting lease back in the spring with 8 other guys. I spent all summer regaling friends with stories of the huge deer on this property. I hung a ladder stand during my first hunting trip there in November. The other members were surprising terse with me. I shot a button buck the first morning. Not satisfied with this, I moved my stand several times during the week and saw nothing. Other members of the lease reported seeing nothing either and left early in the hunt muttering under their breath. I guess there’s just no game on this land and will move on next year. This is the fifth lease I’ve been on in as many years. Do you know of any available leases that will guarantee deer with some friendly members?
- Restless Rookie, Randolph County, GA
A. Dear Restless: You, no doubt, are not typically invited back the next year and serve as a warm body so the others can afford the lease. It's their fault, though. They should have known better. My guess is you show up with all the latest gear and would involve yourself in B&C conversations with Jim Shockey – or worse, me – if you shared a camp. Yet, your stories all seem to end with “And that eight-point got away!”
Even that happened 10 years ago.
You are not above help, my son. Believe it or not, just because you throw money into a lease doesn’t mean the deer will pose for you. You must put work and research in almost immediately after you send the check. Scout the land during the summer. Ask others about the deer habits. Heck, ask locals at the grocery stores about when and how they like to hunt in that area. You know, learn something. Hang your stand before bow season and leave it be for the remainder of the year. Above all, if you can afford it, approach a lease like a multi-year commitment. Getting to know the land and the game in a season is unreasonable. Moving stands, driving your four-wheeler all over the lease, and trampling about will only spook the game and upset fine hunters such as Yours Truly.
Q. I am twenty and like to run dogs for hogs. Nothing thrills me more than staying out all night in the summer, chasing some old swine into a swamp, hacking through saw palmettos and spiderwebs. We’ve caught a few nice boars, but none of the Big Nasties. Any advice?
- Hawg Catcher, Wauchula, FL
A. Dear Hawg: Yes. Find a girlfriend.
Q. I pawned my Elvis Figurine collection and sold my Camaro to purchase my first airboat. I can go through anything now. We hunt the marshes of Lake Okeechobee, leaving dock at day break. We rarely kill any ducks but do a lot of shooting. All of my peers have become duck experts, why shouldn’t I?
- Fanboat Fiend, Moore Haven, FL
A. Dear FF: I saw you last weekend. My crew awoke at 3:30 in the morning to ready my vessel, and we rode 12 miles in the dark to set up well before first flight. We even – and I know this is tough to swallow for your ilk – let a flock of whistling ducks hover over our decoys before shooting light without pulling the trigger. After all of this, here you came revving directly towards our setup, whooping and hollering. We flashed you off our spot, and you kindly retreated all of 75 yards away and sky-banged at every avian species dumb enough to bumble by your station. I’m sure you heard the cursing. I would have had my people slap you had you not left an hour into the hunt.
Me being the gracious kind, I would suggest that next time you leave port before the stars run from the sun. Then keep moving if you happen across other hunters. I have been as allowing as suggesting to other well-meaning folks another place to hunt when they are in a pinch. Not all on the lake are this magnanimous.
This is all of my time you receive, knaves! If you have a query for Mr. Hunting Expert, feel free to e-mail.
But mind your P’s and Q’s, boy.