Deer Hunting – From Dogs to Bows with ProStaffer Kevin Faver
Editor’s Note: Forty-seven year old Kevin Faver of St. Augustine, Florida, is a charter-boat captain. “But I always tell people I fish to hunt,” Faver says. “I’ve been wearing Mossy Oak my entire hunting career and been on the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for 5 years.”
I am a turkey hunter as well as a deer hunter and hunt primarily in Florida and south Georgia. Both these areas have numbers of palmettos, so there’s always green in the woods where I hunt. For this reason, my favorite camo pattern is Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. Hunting hogs and deer in the palmettos isn’t much fun, since you can’t see well. The palmettos will cut you, and if you have to do blood trailing, the recovery is no fun at all. Many people believe that Florida just has sand, Disney, fishing and sunbathing. They don’t think about us as having deer. Our bow season starts in Florida on September 14.
When I was growing up in Florida, none of the deer hunters I knew ever would consider still or stalk hunting. The only way we hunted deer was with dogs. We knew more about dogs and reading deer sign from logging roads than we understood about deer. Most people from the North don’t know that most of the deer hunting across much of the South was traditionally dog hunting. The abundance of thick cover, numbers of wetlands and long growing seasons meant we needed dogs to hunt deer.
When I was a youngster, I remember my dad and the other drivers would be on horseback during a deer hunt. They would take the dogs into the palmettos, because that was where the deer bedded and turn the dogs loose. The rest of our hunting party would stand on logging roads and any openings where the deer might come out to get a shot at the deer. We took very-few deer using this method of hunting, because we only got quick shots at deer coming out of the palmettos. Misses were more prevalent than harvesting animals. I didn’t start still hunting until my late teens or early 20’s. Primarily, because of all the problems that I described earlier with hunting in palmetto flats, we believed that squirrels and coons were the only animals that sat in trees. As I learned more about bowhunting, hunting in a tree stand and sitting still while there, I totally got away from dog hunting for deer. Today, the majority of deer hunters in Florida are still hunters and tree stand hunters.
For hunters in Florida a whitetail that will score 110 on Boone & Crockett is a really-nice buck. A buck with a rack that scores 120 is considered a huge buck. The size of Florida’s deer and the size of their racks have increased quite a bit, especially on private lands where landowners intensively manage the property for deer and turkey. Since our deer here in Florida get a tremendous amount of hunting pressure, I hunt with my PSE EVO bow until about the eighth or ninth week of deer season. Then I will hunt with my rifle, because rarely will you ever see a deer at 30 yards within bow range. If you see one at 100 to 200 yards, you’ve had a great day of hunting deer in Florida.
Another big change for Florida deer hunters in the past few years is we have learned so much about deer thanks to the Quality Deer Management Association and GameKeepers. Because of better management practices and better land-use practices, we have more opportunity, especially at the first of the season, to get a deer within bow range than we ever have had previously.