2022/23 Hunting Thread

Didn't ever see one of these pop up this year. We're through Turkey season and rut in most of the country. How have you guys faired?

Managed to finally get a swamp buck out of Francis Marion in SC, was a whirlwind of an afternoon. About 2:30 a big 8 came to my grunts and I completely whiffed 2 shots at him. Was down in the dumps when a spike and a 5 came out right around 4:15. He didn't make another step so no track, get him back to my stuff then realize I've got a full drag by myself with a dead phone about a quarter mile in the dark. As the sun sets I figure I can just follow the thick swamp edge on my right and I'll eventually end up on the road. A few hundred yards in I unknowingly crossed the swamp and suddenly the thick edge was on my left. I got lost as hell. Luckily there were some people shooting late at the range down the road and it was just within earshot. A few 'help' calls followed by their recall shots got my bearings right and I got out of there but I left the deer. Called my wife gave her the run down told her not to worry and I went back in to finish the drag. By the time I was leaving forest property I realized no matter how fast I drove I wasn't making the processor so I stopped on for some beer and made a quick U turn to gut this thing out (which would have made the drag much more tolerable if I had just done this to begin with). All things said and done, missed a wall hanger shot a mature 4yo 5 point (body weight probably around 135 - which is a pretty solid FM buck), been sore for the past two days, absolutely will not be in there again without a buddy nearby.

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


Is it a normal thing to not gut a deer as soon as you kill it? That's something I've always done and thought everyone did.

I didn't have as much time to hunt this year as I would have liked, but managed to get 2 doe and spike to fill the freezer. Saturday is the last day of rifle season in VA so I'll have one more shot at something.

If I'm processing the deer absolutely going to gut it before I drag it - its wayyy easier when its fresher. My processor would rather you bring them a whole deer though as long as you get it to them within 2 hours. Generally means the meat is going to be cleaner, since you're not dragging an open carcass through swamp and you have a pro gut it vs joe schmo.

(add if applicable) /s

Gun season went until January I thought in VA? Does rifle season close before shotgun?

Also always gut first for the meat. Only people I've seen not gut were back strap hunters who would leave the rest to rot.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

East of Blue Ridge "gun season" goes until January 7th for hound hunters and shotguns, west peels back from rifle season to late muzzleloader and late archery seasons

I need to find places in the western part of the state to hunt. Genuinely getting weary of the long shotgun season here in the middle of the state. Might try and find a still hunting club or look to hunt more state land closer to me. Moved a bit further away from my old grounds and need to find places closer to the goochland area to hunt.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Word of advice is don't. Private land is nearly impossible to get permission on and public land you'll see more blaze orange ball caps than deer in the woods

Unless you like trekking to the deepest parts of the woods, hunting here (in the upper valley) has gotten extremely difficult at least imo. I don't know about Rockbridge south but Augusta north sucks

Basically the way hunting has gotten on public land any state I've been to. Its a significant advantage if you're willing to just straight outwork people though. Rather annoying that some easy to reach honey holes have been over run by people.

(add if applicable) /s

Getting a bow and muzzleloader is what I chose to do to combat crowds. I'll only hunt weekdays during gun season on public in VA, but doing archery and ML has provided more opportunity when less people are out as well.

Yeah that's originally why I got into bow hunting but doesn't really help in SC unfortunately. Bow season is a week long in the beginning of August (landowner rifle season starts then too its 85+ out and mosquitos everywhere) then its rifle season in some parts of the state from Sept 1 - Dec 31.

(add if applicable) /s

That's Cam Hanes' motto

A couple of the state land pieces around me like AP hill and Pocahantas allow you to reserve a block for days to let you have some space, I might give those a go. Used to have a good urban archery spot but lost that due to development unfortunately. Trying to convince the significant other to invest in hunting land aint easy

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Like others said, gun season was always two weeks where I grew up (Washington County) and where I hunted (Craig County.) I see more deer in a day now in my family's backyard than I did in six years hunting when I was a kid.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Atleast where I hunt in Essex and king and queen I wish I could say the same but feels like numbers are down. Place I fish at is rented by a massive club who runs hounds and so far this year they're not liking what they are seeing only got one deer on opening day and saw very little else.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I've had buddies comment that they aren't seeing as many deer this year as well. These are guys that hunt from Tappahannock to Louisa and possibly some other places.

Same area I cover and still some deer being seen but numbers feel down this year I havent been seeing as manyas usual but I'm also not very good at deer hunting least outside of the rut that is.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

When I moved here, I expected to see a ton of deer (Mechanicsville.) I have only seen deer once in almost 2 and a half years. I saw more daily in Falls Church (our condo was near a cemetary.)

Numbers are sky high in Abingdon. I saw nearly 40 in the playground of my old elementary school last Monday afternoon, middle of the day! Our hundred acres has at least 8 bucks that we have seen. My brother and my niece combined to take three in about 2 hours of hunting over two days. None are huge, but the numbers are absurd. I NEVER saw a deer on our property the first 16 years our family owned it.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

There are some absolute bruisers in the JRPS. My gf lives in the Forest Hill area and there is a doe with two yearlings that hang around the neighborhood all the time. She's even seen a buck in her area as well.

I've got a few that live in my yard but just a few does and fawns and I'm still near a few other folks and too close to a road to mess with it and I kind of like having yard deer anyway. We used to see alot more in my neck of the woods but numbers have been down the last few years still some big bucks getting got but feels like things have finally gotten to where we are denting the population with the long seasons in the eastern half of the state.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

You may want to look into hunting clubs as well. Not sure if that's viable where you are at, but it could get you access to some private land that you otherwise wouldn't have. Most have rules in place for age/size so you tend to get to hunt better animals. May not be an option but it's worth looking into.

All the deer in Mechanicsville are probably in my dad's backyard off Cold Harbor Road.

He feeds them corn every day and has quite the following.

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

In the 70s-80s, my grandfather and father hunted with the Dragon Hunt Club in Howerton. The club took 2-3+ deer everyday they hunted.

Gun season went until January I thought in VA? Does rifle season close before shotgun?

It depends on the county you're in. For example, in Loudoun, rifle season runs from 11/19-1/7. However, there was an early antlerless-only rifle season from 9/3-9/30 and there will be a late antlerless-only rifle season from 1/8-3/26.

"Those who jump into the void owe no explanation to those who stand and watch."

Got a small doe as my first bow kill in the middle of October. On public land to boot. I didn't see anything the 4 times I went during muzzleloader and did a drive with some guys this past weekend where we only got two does up and moving but no kills. Hopefully have an opportunity on a decent buck at some point this December, but will glady take a doe on either sec days if one presents itself.

uva - the taint of the ACC

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

It's amazing what I see sometimes when I sit on my front porch

uva - the taint of the ACC

More deer in that one picture than I'll see in two seasons!

Definitely no shortage of deer here.
I took a video as well because they just kept coming out of the woods, I don't think I got them all either, you could count 21 in the video.

uva - the taint of the ACC

I think my Georgia season is about done unless I get sick and the only cure is a day of hooky from work and a day trip to the lease. Have taken 3 deer so far this season. Missed on another one in archery season. First kill was a button buck I mistook for a doe - was in box blind on a gas line easement, it was about 200 yds away and I didn't see the buttons. Hit him high shoulder and he dropped without a step. Oh well, he's nice and tender, good eating.

2nd was a doe on a public land quota hunt a few weeks ago. We'd seen movement the day before and a buddy had missed one passing through. We went back to the same vicinity, I set up in a different tree in a different spot. Doe came through, I lined up on her neck at about 50 yards. She was standing still face on, but lowered her head just as I squeezed. When I got down to her, turned out I hit her right between the eyes. What a mess. Brains everywhere. I didn't have to track and there was no meat loss either. I don't like purposely aiming for the head but it worked out in this case.

3rd was a big spike this past weekend. Long face, big body. I think he might have been a 2 year old from size and face length - just bad genetics or something. Spikes were really odd shaped too. Was in a club box blind on a power easement. He'd come out and was just standing there looking around. 70 yds or so, neck shot. It was an awkward left handed shot, I lost sight of him for a second when the gun fired, then saw belly and legs twitching through brush where he was standing. He dropped without a step. I was able to drive my truck right up to him, no drag. His quarters and ribs are now icing down in my backyard, aging before I debone and do the grinding. I say he might have been older than a year as he was big enough that he filled two full size coolers for aging.

I might not get another chance to go - that's one reason I shot the spike. Next 2 weekends my wife has us planned for a bunch of stuff, then add in Christmas shopping and trip back home to VA for holidays this year. I wouldn't mind one more - I'd kinda like having some more to play with for making some summer sausage or jerky. Other than that, my horizontal deep freeze is gonna be slam full of venison. I'm not in it just for big antlers. They're a nice bonus but being primarily a meat hunter, I think I've had a really good season.

If anyone shoots any male mallards, I am looking for wings for my fly tying business. Happy to pay shipping. I need the matching blue feathers.

You can reach me via email, knotthereelworld (at) gmail


You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

His decision was made after a phone call with longtime Virginia Tech assistant coach Bud Foster. All Foster told him was, "We win. They don't."

Ahhh, now your username makes more sense. Before I thought you were a big Offspring fan.

uva - the taint of the ACC

I do love that song. My boat is named Pretty Fly and my other business is named Pretty Fly Designs. It's all fly fishing oriented but I get asked about it a lot.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

His decision was made after a phone call with longtime Virginia Tech assistant coach Bud Foster. All Foster told him was, "We win. They don't."

I have been slow at work and hunted a lot (Georgia). Rut was weird this year as it was warm, lots of hunters I know aren't seeing bucks like they normally do.

I had one great oppo and had my target buck at 21 yards, I drew back and a doe that I didn't know was behind me blew and he ran. I think our 2nd rut will be around December 10 and I plan to hunt that

Have hardly gotten into the woods for deer this year in the middle of a job change and lifes kept me busy but still managed to get out west in october as usual and picked up some limits on wild birds. Hunting was tough being as dry as it was but they still had some snow melt keeping the creeks full but some places where they didnt get snow last winter were bone dry sadly. No water no birds but around water we found plenty to have some good hunts. Pheasant population is still on the rebound after some bad years of hatches and this year was no real exception a couple blizzards in march and april really hit them hard and not alot of older birds still due to mother nature being harsh in the dakotas.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Looks like your dog is still awesome.

(add if applicable) /s

That guys is the best thing thats walked into my world since my wife did, I'm no dog whisperer but hes gotten the pheasant game down to a tee. Training him on woodcock last fall definitely helped him in understanding the pointing game and hes learned how to slowly work a wild pheasant which when cover is plenty they will run for days. This year we were hunting around lots of sunflowers, 500 acre blocks of it, and they would run into there and be gone so he had to be good at getting between sunflowers and the birds to get a point.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

My BIL went on a Pheasant farm hunt in South Dakota this year and they saw and shot a bunch. He came home with 10.

It was definitely a better year out west even with some big blizzards in the spring lots of young wild birds and the numbers of people going out seemed far less than the last few covid years where it felt like black friday at a shopping mall. We used to hunt SD but found the earlier opening week helps avoid any potential serious snow threat you can get later into october out there. Was hoping to get to PA to hunt some public land next week but probably will get stuck in VA instead.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I'm in far SWVA, and so far our season has been up and down. We had a bumper crop of acorns on our properties and it has made hunting a bit harder as the deer aren't moving near as much. We were able to get one of our target bucks last week but other than that not a lot to speak of. Seems like deer numbers are ok but mature bucks are down this year. Lots of yearlings and 2.5 and 3.5 year olds that have some potential, but not a lot of older deer that we would target.

We were seeing a ton of bear early in the season with the warmer weather, but the cold spell a couple of weeks ago have calmed them down a bit. It's been warmer for the last week and we're seeing some more activity, so hope to get a chance at a couple this weekend. Saturday is our last day to hunt both bear and deer with a rifle, so we're going to try and hit it hard. We typically do most of our hunting the week of Thanksgiving due to work and tradition, and this year the bear and deer rifle seasons didn't overlap. It sucks because it's always fun to have the option to harvest both. My brother-in-law did get a nice V blaze bear during archery from the ground with his recurve, which was pretty cool to say the least.

Turkey numbers seem way up from past years as there's been multiple flocks moving around. Overharvesting and clearcutting in years past really suppressed the numbers, but they're starting to bounce back. Looking forward to Spring already.

I'm meeting in a couple of weeks with a biologist and forester to really ramp up our habitat and FSI projects. We're way behind where we wanna be, so I hope we're getting ready to kick it into high gear. I'm thinking this will involve a lot of prescribed burns, thinning, planting of hard and soft mast, food plots, and anything else we can throw at it. Our property is mountainous and we're fighting rough topography and poor soils, but so far we've seen great results from what little we've done. I almost enjoy the habitat improvement and "deer farming" as much as I enjoy the hunting.

Everyone stay safe out there and happy hunting!

Sounds like you're living the dream over there managing your property. I know that is a lot of hard work, but I'm sure being able to witness the fruits of your labor makes it so worth it.

I've got family who are state foresters and so we've always followed those practices on our game lands. Burning is a huge benefit for so many things including the hunter. We usually burn in jan and feb to avoid when anything might be nesting like deer, turkey, quail etc. A good burn can clean up the woods so well reduces wildfire risk by clearing fuel out and leaves open areas for young turkeys, deer, and particularly quail to forage.

Food plots are addicting but pricey, we tend to try and go towards alot of saplings of chesnuts, persimmon trees, lespedezas can also be great hedge rows and take a burn well to resprout. Also a biggy strips or small plots of warm season grasses. burned every three years, can give everything a really good place to nest/bed. Turkeys love warm season grass fields just as much as deer. Warm season grasses are a spray/plant once and then simply burn on a 3 year cycle to keep it from thinning out and really easy to maintain. Couldnt recommend it enough if itll grow in the mountains.

One small tip on prescribed burning I forgot if you burn undercover in the woods you'll want to go around the block you're going to burn beforehand and rake back the leaves and debris from any hardwoods you want to keep around. Some people go it some dont but the hot fires will typically maim hardwoods with the thinner bark and it also prevents fire from getting up a tree as well as that can be the biggest risk to burning woodlands is a dead tree with a fire walking up it. Cut and dead trees you can over beforehand you dont want to have a jump over a fireline. Pines typically can handle a underburn if theyre big enough your forester can tell you if theyre old enough or not. Get some good ol fire rakes to get the leaves off the trunks or use a backpack leaf blower which is easier in some places and just get a good one foot ring around the trees base to keep your hardwoods healthy.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

All great points thanks for sharing. Looking forward to how we can improve upon some pretty poor timber practices from years past and hopefully create a wildlife paradise. Pretty awesome starting with a blank slate.

Keep updating if you want to its something I find to be addictive, my family runs a logging company so I cant count how many tracts we've replanted and planned out with land owners. It can be fun but requires lots of patience. In the end the pay off can be so worth it though.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I saw pictures of the buck yesterday. Definitely a good one.

Lots of big buck pictures of deer taken in Virginia at this site Virginia Whitetails
Including this bruiser taken in Powhatan. (Not me and I don't know this guy)

#Let's Go - Hokies

Sweet Jesus.

On another note of VA hunting that wasn't mine. Looks like another solid elk was taken on a deer tag this season.

(add if applicable) /s

A couple of the elk that were taken during the first drawing were damn impressive. There's some bruisers in Buchanan County. Sadly the odds are so low it'd take a miracle to draw. Most of the ones killed on deer tags come from Lee County it seems.