OPINION: It’s deer season again; hide the checkbook

Thanksgiving is almost here. You can tell because President Barack Obama just pardoned the national turkey which, of course, caused Republicans to demand new legislation limiting the president’s power to grant clemency, at least until they found out the turkey he pardoned was House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
But there’s an even more telling clue that Thanksgiving is just around the corner: Deer season is open. I don’t need a calendar to know when deer season has opened at my house. What I do need is a flak jacket. Living in the wilds of Lafayette County (motto: “Warm beer attracts more deer,”) and surrounded by hay fields, creeks and woods, I’m reminded from sun-up to sundown that gun season has opened.
It’s that time of the year when we tend to walk past the windows inside the house in a crouched position.
I can also tell deer season has arrived because the mama and her two baby deer who have been regulars outside the window of my study every morning for the past month or so have disappeared, hopefully hiding or perhaps vacationing on the coast.
I have nothing against deer hunting. Lord knows we’ve got more than we can dodge here in the Oxford area. If the population keeps growing, they’re going to start demanding the right to vote, and deer are known for being very liberal. It’s the deer hunters I have a problem understanding.
I used to do a lot of fishing until the fish kept getting in the way of drinking beer, so I finally figured out it was cheaper to stay home and drink beer than spend all that money on fishing gear.
I suspect there are a lot of deer hunters who would feel the same except that it’s their one excuse to get away with the guys and hoist a few without the wife interfering.
Now maybe hunters’ wives are more understanding than mine, or maybe they’re just glad to get rid of their husbands for a while, but I don’t see how anyone could justify the amount of money spent just to bag a deer.
According to a formula by Ohio wildlife officials, a deer is worth about $500, at least that’s what you’ll be fined for illegally killing one. A study at Mississippi State recently showed that the average Mississippi deer hunter spends about $160 a day for travel and equipment and has an average income of only about $50,000. Of course, those costs don’t include the all-terrain vehicles that studies show 65 percent of Mississippi deer hunters own, which can run from $5,000 to $14,000 and, of course, those costs don’t include the beer.
So I think I’ll save my money for things I need more. If I feel the need to commune with nature, I’ll just step out my front door. Assuming, of course, I’m wearing my flak jacket.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.

Marty Russell

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