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Now is good time to experiment

(This column was written for the Demopolis Times by Jerry Smyly.)

Cold gloomy weather and quite a bit of rain! That’s what we’ve had the past few days. I don’t mind the cold, but it’s much easier to handle if there’s a bit of sunshine. For the weekend warrior, rain on the weekends and cold beautiful days during the week are seemingly a curse. The deer frolic and play during the week, while we work; then it rains all weekend and we’re forced to sit indoors and fight severe cases of cabin fever.

I chose to combat cabin fever by cooking deer loins on the grill using various marinades. One was marinated in the usual Moore’s, while another in soy sauce and Worcestershire (thank you spell check); the last was soaked in balsamic vinaigrette. All tasted wonderful, even my wife agreed! I often use ugly days to experiment with wild game dishes; however, that wasn’t the only thing I chose to experiment on.

If you’re like me, you have a comfortable, well-fitting, but faded, pair of camouflage pants. Being the frugal person I am, I decided to dye them a little so they wouldn’t stand out quite as bad in the woods. I purchased some dark brown dye at the store and soaked my pants in it for two hours in hot water, per instructions. I must have used a bit too much dye because my once faded pants came out looking like I had dipped them in Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Maybe the deer and turkeys I will be hunting this season have a sweet tooth, because I’ll look like an extra large brownie from the waist down. Luckily a well known camo manufacturer is running a sale this month and I can just buy replacements.

As far as the hunting goes, by many accounts it has been pretty slow. I have talked with taxidermists and processors alike complaining of business being much slower than usual. I personally believe that this could be attributed to two consecutive wet summers, despite the cold weather there is still a good amount of browse available. Also, many folks are reporting still having quite a few acorns on the ground, although by now the more highly preferred species are likely gone. A slow period during early December is not necessarily new. There is often a lull during this time of year as deer adjust their patterns and movements because of hunting pressure. To counter this, simply changing up your own routine may help. Hunt mornings if you seldom do so, hunt clearcuts, overgrown fields, thickets, and other areas deer may feel safe to move around in during daylight hours.

This cold weather and rain should have some ducks heading our way also. I just bought my duck stamp, being so busy with work; duck hunting has been an afterthought. It takes cold weather and snow to get the birds heading south, and my college buddy from North Alabama is reporting very few birds. One of the worst early seasons he can remember in a long time he says. Hopefully with more cold fronts on tap we will at least get enough birds to make it interesting. Good luck everyone!

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, December 12 issue of the Demopolis Times.)