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Vandiver: Hunting provides quality time with family, children
Jackson Vandiver poses with Lucky and Shovel Head, the two bucks he harvested this season.

Luke Bryan’s song, “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day,” has become the theme song for our family’s love of the outdoors. Springtime brings so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and there is no better way to describe them than in this song. 

This turkey season was the most difficult for us in years. We were not able to harvest any mature gobblers, but we were blessed to have had the opportunity to hunt and spend time together.

The culmination of this past hunting season was getting my grandson Jackson’s deer head mounts back from Nimmons’ taxidermy. Jackson’s dad entered his bucks in the Georgia Outdoor News; Youth Big Buck Contest weeks 6 and 7.

Jackson’s week 7 entry won first place and qualified him for the youth big buck shoot-out on July 29 at the Infinite Energy arena in Duluth. The focus now turns to preparation for dove season and this year’s deer season as ‘every day is Saturday’.

What a crazy turkey season! We had a ton of pictures of mature gobblers on our trail cams before, during and after the season, taken on road beds and creek bottoms known for strutting activity by gobblers. We hunted the same areas we have for the past several years, but the mature gobblers seemed to always stay just out of range when we hunted. We passed on a lot of younger birds that responded to calls and decoys but we were not able to close the deal on the mature birds.

We had some great hunts where we heard a lot of gobbling and saw a lot of strutting gobblers that were always with hens and simply were not going to leave a real hen for a decoy. I believe that this turkey season confirmed my belief that harvesting a turkey is not nearly as important as spending time with your family in the outdoors. We are looking forward to next turkey season knowing the mature gobblers we saw this year will be a year older and should be awesome turkeys come next spring season.

Jackson’s deer mounts were prepared by Nimmons’ Taxidermy in Lexington, Ga. As usual, Andy Nimmons did a great job as both mounts are very life like due to his attention to detail. The deer for which Jackson won week 7 of the Youth Buck contest was named Lucky, as he had avoided us for the previous three years. My previous article published by the Times on October 29, 2015 has the details of the hunt in which he was able to harvest Lucky.

Jackson will be competing with 16 other weekly winners age 15 and younger from all over Georgia on July 29 at the Outdoor Blast in the Duluth Infinite Energy Center. They will be shooting pellet guns free handed with iron sights at small targets that will be 30-60 feet away. This promises to be a great time and a great way to honor these successful youth hunters from the 2015 deer season.

The grand prize will be a $3,000 shopping spree from Adventure Outdoors and a three-day guided hunt. This is a great opportunity for 11-year-old Jackson, and he will be spending a lot of time practicing this summer for the event.

Sunflowers and sorghum were planted this week and brown top millet will be planted in the next few weeks in preparation for dove season. It is always encouraging to see doves fly over the field while drilling sunflowers and sorghum. We are looking forward to having another great opening day of dove season on Sept. 3. This spring should produce a good hatch of doves as we have not had many strong storms that typically tear down nest. Time to inventory shotgun shells, mojo dove decoys and perform maintenance on shotguns.

We will also be planning the annual opening day lunch held before the noon season start on Sept. 3. My grandchildren, Taylor and Jackson, will be working with their chocolate lab Chewy getting her ready for the season. Dove season is always the official start of a new hunting season for our family.

We have been feeding protein on our deer lease since February and have seen some impressive results on trail camera photos. We have pictures of bucks that have already grown split horns with brow tines and some are showing main beams over 12 inches long in May. So far our hunting club has fed over
7 tons of protein and we have a very healthy deer herd. We will feed protein throughout the summer and along with summer food plots the deer should continue to increase body weights and antler growth.

We will start working on tree stands and ground blinds for the upcoming season in June, as well as preparing to plant fall food plots in August. Deer hunting has become a 12- month process if you want to have success on a consistent basis in the fall.

My life is all about “huntin’, fishin’ and lovin’ every day” and sharing that time with my family as much as possible. How blessed we are in Georgia to have an abundance of wildlife to enjoy in the great outdoors. ‘Every day is Saturday.’

Russell Vandiver, recently retired as president of Lanier Technical College, has been an avid fisherman and hunter for 50 years. His column appears monthly.   

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