Thread: Dog Drive in LA
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Old December 31, 2009, 11:57 PM   #1
RMcL
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Join Date: May 7, 2006
Location: Alabama
Posts: 165
Dog Drive in LA

This is about an Alabama WMA Deer Hunt I participated in a few years ago.

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Dog Drive in LA (Lower Alabama)

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I heard a shotgun boom on the next ridge, then in a blur of brown, a buck raced down the hill through the pines. In what seemed to be muted slow motion my shotgun fired. My first round blasted bark as fifteen OO buckshot centered a tree as I struggled to put the bead ahead of the rapidly departing buck.

After several years of still or stand hunting for deer, I decided to check out the dog drive deer hunting scene at the Boykin Wildlife Management Area. Located near the town of Citronelle in Mobile and Washington Counties, this WMA takes in 18,185 acres of planted pine and clear cuts leased by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The area is open to archers for the entire deer season stretching from Oct 15 to January 31st. Several rifle hunts are scheduled and two weekends are set aside for dog drives.

The morning of January 7th dawned clear and cool at 38 degrees with a humidity level of near 80%. At the Boykin WMA headquarters a small army of hunters gathered. Some 270 hunters of all ages and description were patiently waiting to show their hunting licenses and get a deer tag. In the background the barks and snarls of uncounted blueticks, redbones and the occasional mutt sounded from the dog boxes in the crowded parking lot.

The Conservation Officer in charge stepped into the bed of a pickup to organize and instruct the hunters. There would be 5 groups, each consisting of 40-60 hunters under a previously selected huntmaster. Each of the five groups was assigned a section to stage drives with 15-30 dogs. Standers were to be no closer than 200 yards apart and not in sight of one another. This hunt would be for antlered bucks and does. If anyone shot a button buck - it would count as a doe. The daily bag limit was a buck and a doe or two does per person. To make the hunt go smoother, who ever shot a deer kept the whole deer.

The convoy of trucks departed in swirling clouds of dust. I followed my group down the narrow dirt track roads until we came to a large clearing from which the drive would be organized. As men, women, and boys emerged from the trucks, they brought out an assortment of shotguns, predominantly slide actions. Most of the guns were Remington 870's or Mossberg 500's. I saw a few Browning "humpback" autoloaders and one ancient Winchester model 1897 carried by a proud teenager. The two women in the group carried "youth" model 1300 Winchesters - the only 12 gauge reduced stock length slide action on the market. It appeared that my Remington Synthetic 870 Express was the only shotgun that was kept in a gun sleeve as we climbed into the back of the trucks for the ride to our stands. I wondered how many of those well used shotguns ever had a pattern put to paper.

In the rush of the moment, my second and third rounds were unleashed before I remembered the Gunsite mantra "Front Sight - Press!" I found the front bead as the buck cleared a logging road. Swinging the tube just ahead and below his nose I fired the fourth load of Federal Premium 3 inch double ought from some 35 yards. The load centered the buck's neck and knocked him down. As the hounds caught up the deer bounded up in a death run. A short while later as the trucks laden with standers drove up two of the younger hunters went in to retrieve the deer from the swampy bottom.

It was 10am and the temperature was rising fast, so I left the group to check in my buck and get the meat on ice as soon as possible. The spike buck weighed in just over 100 pounds. It was after eleven o'clock by the time I had the buck skinned and gutted. Five other hunters were soon skinning deer at the racks and some 10 others were waiting with deer in their trucks. With the head and lower legs removed the whole deer just fit into the 178 quart Igloo cooler. The wind was now blowing from the south and with the mercury still climbing, I drove into town for ice and a cold Coke.

RMc
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