A Mississippi deer hunter reflects on the life of the hunt

Posted at 10:47 a.m. on Tuesday, October 18, 2022

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Lifelong hunter Andy Zimmerman has plenty of stories to tell of the 69 years he hunted deer. Once a young man, he got his start as a target shooter before hunting at the age of 17.

Her fondest memories of the forest are the times spent with her family, friends and dogs. Many things have changed since then.

Franklin County has transformed the types of deer hunters that come. Many of them come from out of state or are individuals looking for a place to hunt. He remembers a time when he and 32 family groups hunted a 35,000 acre expanse. The hunting style shifted towards more still hunters than dog hunters.

“When people hunted with dogs, you had groups of people who could socialize. They might miss a deer and you might laugh at them if one of them killed one that you contributed to and helped to dress it up,” Zimmerman said. “Always on the hunt, everyone goes to a stand and you lose so much of the family being together. You lose that community. I love dog hunting. I really enjoyed it. that.”

The Dog Hunt was family oriented, but it also offered more action. This was true both for dogs that ran and for those that still hunted.

He said that while hunters today are still concerned about dogs running around and affecting the movement of deer, back then they used them to stir up deer mid-morning. As a rule, deer go to bed at this time.

Every morning the hunters would still hunt until about 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. Then they would throw dogs and beagles at the deer and in the afternoon the motionless hunt was good.

Dog hunting is a challenge for hunters. They must make a quick-fire decision and steer their targets like a wing shooter leads a bird. It was also an educational experience on how deer work, he said.

When a dog jumps a buck, the deer runs in a small circle and tries to jump a doe and stops running, Zimmerman said. Rarely does a dog bark at a deer. Wiggling deer causes them to try to return to these essential food areas.

Certain things have caused the decrease in hunting with dogs. There is an expense in keeping a pack of dogs and only being able to run them for a few weeks a year. People also need land to use dogs effectively and hunting has become more of a competition and an individual approach, he said.

The dog hunt left behind fond memories like his beagle named Dixie who was a household pet for most of the year. She was one of the few dogs he knew that could bark a deer. He got it from a man who used to shoe horses for a living.

“He said she was worthless because his little girl started dressing her and putting her in a stroller,” Zimmerman said. “I bought Dixie for $25. At the start of the season, she was around six months old. I took it with me. She jumped a stag on her own and did pretty well that first season. I could call her by name and indicate where I thought she should go and she would. If she jumped a deer, I’d get her a dollar. She was a once in a lifetime dog and played as a puppy until the day she died.

His brother had an old dog who would come home if he was let loose and refused to cross roads because he had been run over by a vehicle before.

Deer hunting has changed some. What was once a communal event has turned to people trying to gain small advantages over each other. Everyone wants to kill the big bucks and have a wall mount.

He said people would lie about what they see in a stall because they don’t want to give information about money.

“I hate to see how it has changed. I miss being with a group of people and the camaraderie,” he said.

His .270 ruger killed many deer, including a buck he had to shoot twice because he wasn’t sure which end was which when he turned. Another was shot down 300 meters away with a strong crosswind. He had to calculate his shot like a sniper would.

That .270 was his pride and joy because he could shoot a tight group from 500 yards. At 100 yards, the 130-grain-core Remington .270 could fire through a target’s bullet hole. Accuracy is what he loved the most.

Once he had a jumpsuit with a bottle of rut smell that had leaked into one of his pockets. He was about to go hunting when a call came home about a fire at the telephone company office. He rushed to her to find it was just a burnt belt and rushed into the woods with a .270 auto.

Sitting on an old branch, he heard what he thought was an armadillo. He looked left and saw nothing and looked right for a whopping eight-pointer. As he moved his weapon, the deer flew across the field.

“I said big boy you get off and I grabbed him on the hip and grabbed him again. I brought the deer home before realizing how big it was. It had a 28 inch gap and was 18 inches end to end. It was huge,” he said.

Dog hunting helped him formulate his thoughts when hunting. This gave rise to a theory he has about hunting and deer. He believes deer come into the world with certain etched characteristics like how a doe knows how to hide her fawn.

“Other than that, they’re like a computer disk. We write certain things in their code. If you jump on them with a dog and they run away, a male thinks, ‘Hey, those are my paths to get away from me. We’re writing this tablet,” he said. in front of you. A deer is more likely to pass by earlier in the day. If you stop there every day, they will know whether you are there or not. Deer hunting is more about fooling them.