Deer on the Patio
The Black Powder Cartridge News|Summer 2020
Adaptable Whitetails
Tony Kinton

Kinton poses with the first buck he collected from his 12-acre block which contains his house and outbuildings. The author hunted these lands as a child, but deer were simply not present in the area then.

Hunting is often spiced with distant and exotic locales. At least that is the case for many sojourns. Unfamiliar territory adds richness to the flavor of an upcoming adventure, coaxing to the surface much imagining and anticipating. The thrill of it all intensifies as each day passes and that flight or long drive nears. Such doings are fuel for the fires that burn within us. These fires should be stoked, the enchantment of them enjoyed.

But what of the more common local hunt? After all, these are likely the ones we most regularly encounter. These outings are so common that they may go overlooked and underappreciated, supplanted by some erroneous thinking that concludes we must travel far to succeed. Permit me to say that I in no way am discounting the broadening of horizons. As much as anyone, I am guilty of seeking out the new. Western states (I am from the Southeast), Canadian provinces, Africa…I have hunted them and will continue to do so. But I, as well as the great percentage of hunters, have a plethora of wealth at my backdoor. Consider the ubiquitous whitetail deer.

There can be little argument that whitetails now hold the number one slot in popularity among big-game animals across the U.S. and portions of Canada. This does not diminish the value of other grand creatures such as elk, moose, sheep and bears. It simply underlines the point that whitetails are at the top. The reasons for this are varied, but two that stand out are distribution and population. These two can justifiably be summed up with the descriptive word adaptable. Whitetails adapt, prompting both distribution and population growth. This has led in many places to a situation that can appropriately be designated “patio deer.”

A usage enclosure, simply a small wire cage that prevents deer from eating the plants under it, gives an indication of how much use a specific plot receives. Notice the plot outside the cage has been practically destroyed by deer. This is one drawback of small plots.

Some 30 years back, my wife and I opted to remove ourselves from city noise and traffic. We purchased 12-acres of land and built a house containing two small offices just down the road from where I grew up. She settled into her one-person CPA business; I jumped even deeper into writing. I grew up hunting the area from childhood to college, but there were no deer in the neighborhood during those years. But things were changing.

As time progressed, I became increasingly aware of deer inhabiting that same country I trod with regularity in my adolescence, while searching for quail and squirrels. Not enough to prompt a hunt, but deer were obviously present. Neighbors had noticed the same. A track or two here and there, a deer bouncing across a field or county road. No question, deer were occupying an area in which they were not long ago unknown. Talk turned to hunting, and acquaintances of the community shared my enthusiasm that one day we might actually hunt deer, right here at home. That hope materialized.

But where? That was the question most troubling me. I had only 12-acres of land. Those acres, however, were prime for deer. A cutover or two were scattered about on neighboring properties, providing ample bedding habitat. My acres were covered with hardwoods that produced an abundance of acorns annually. But perhaps the most important aspect of all was that deer of the area received little, if any, pressure. The stage was gradually being set for some patio deer hunting, this to be conducted and managed with respect for the deer and adjacent landowners. I set about to make my tiny holding as productive as I could in anticipation of this much-desired opportunity.

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