One month until deer season. Think about that!

The year is almost two-thirds of the way gone. While we have had a wet and somewhat mild summer, the gnats have made up for the relative lack of heat. Unless you spray your face down with poisonous DEET and don’t sweat, they will find you within minutes -- and that sir is that.

I had been slowly cleaning up my farm in Canaan from the effects of Hurricane Matthew when lo and behold my home got badly damaged by the tornado that ripped through Calhoun County in April. I found out the hard way why insurance companies are some of the wealthiest corporations in the world. I was reimbursed just enough to do the work and replace the barns myself.

My poor little wife is now qualified as a frame carpenter. I have one more roof to put on and then I will get a belated start on feeders, cameras and deer plots on my farm outside of Branchville. The dog fennel in the plots and fields is head high, so I have a lot of work to do.

I remember the 1970s and the night before Aug. 15. I couldn’t sleep a wink. I was too afraid of missing my ride to Ruffin. The smell of Deet, the early morning fog lifting over the soybean fields, the stillness and silence broken only by the buzz of mosquitoes are still very much with me.

The Taylors and I would take a noon-day siesta after a lunch of Vienna sausage, cheese crackers and Coke awaiting the relative cool of the late afternoons when we would climb back into the deer stands for the evening session.

I don’t stay up nights now. I only hunt in mid-August because it is tradition. I don’t really care about picking off unsuspecting bucks in velvet on opening day. I much prefer hunting the woods when the leaves are falling and sitting cuddled in the roots of a massive swamp elm. Those days are too few and far between with the summer heat now stretching into November.

So why not move the start of season back into September and run it into January? The old argument was that out-of-state hunters who rent lands in South Carolina want a chance to take a buck in velvet.

Well I think we have damaged our relationship with a lot of those hunters by changing the fees and bag limits for them. Those who will accept the new regulations could probably care less about velveted deer. Really nice racks can’t be scored with the velvet on anyway.

Early season tradition? Any tradition we had went down the drain with the new deer bill. It is so much nicer to hunt in January than in mid-August. It is also kinder to the dogs and the deer to give chase at 50 degrees than it is at near 100 degrees.

Although summer plantings are better for the health of the deer herd, I usually concentrate my money and efforts on fall plots. So the rest of the summer, I will just plant no-till beans and peas and get the place in shape for my Oct. 1 plot. No herbicide and no disking. The bean plants usually only make it about eight days on the river anyway. Those deer are ravenous. One day I’ll be too old to do this sort of stuff. I’ll miss it.

Dr. John Rheney has been writing his outdoors column for The Times and Democrat since 1984.

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