When Seasons Change and People Don’t

Fall trees

Here in Northwest Florida, we haven’t forgotten the true significance of Thanksgiving. Even as we gorge ourselves on fried turkey, barbecue and assorted veggie-and-cheese casseroles, we always remember that the last Thursday in November also marks the first day of general gun season in Zone D. We can look forward to four days of hunting – interrupted only by food and football – followed by a two-week hiatus before it starts up again in December.

Because I’m sentimental about history, I want to point out to younger readers that it hasn’t always been this way. There was a time when the season started on the first or second weekend of November and ran until early January.  Most of us who hunt regularly were happy about that change because it extended the season into February when the deer up here start the rut.

The only person I know who had any trouble with it was my father.

Here’s a man who felt like the game wardens should contact him personally before changing any rules or seasons.

In early December several years ago, a friend of his named George Burch flagged him down as Daddy was driving down Hugh Creek Road. George was opening a smokehouse and he had a special offer: If Daddy killed a deer, George would clean it, grind it up and make smoked venison sausage, all for $55.

The “cleaning” part was all Daddy needed to hear. He was already on his way to the camp and had a doe tag in his glove compartment. He wasn’t even gone an hour before he came driving back up to George’s place with a big doe in the back of his old Bronco.

I saw George a couple of weeks later and he recounted the conversation when my father drove up:

DADDY: “Here you go, George. I got a doe in back.”

GEORGE: “Gene, that’s illegal.”

DADDY: “No it ain’t. I’ve got a doe permit right here.”

GEORGE: “That’s fine, but it isn’t hunting season now.”

DADDY: “What?”

GEORGE: “Gene, hunting season ends after Thanksgiving weekend. It doesn’t come back in until December.”

DADDY: “When did that start?”

GEORGE: “About five years ago.”

DADDY: “Well, they didn’t tell me. Now, come get this deer. I want to get home before the football game starts.”

I don’t ever remember him saying it, but Daddy probably should have been thankful that Calhoun County didn’t have more game wardens.

I’m pretty sure George was, at least right then.


14 Responses to When Seasons Change and People Don’t

  1. Ali Trotta says:

    HA. That is pretty funny.

    • JimMcClellan says:

      It took George a couple of weeks to see the humor in it. Thanks!!

      • Eddie says:

        I enjoyed that story
        That story sounds somewhat familar, although the Father-Son realtionships were reversed. A few years ago, my teenage son and a few of his friends, after hearing from their other friends, of hunting and harvesting deer in Santa Rosa county on the prior weekend, decided , on the Monday following Thanksgiving, that they would hunt that afternoon, on one the friends’ Grand Parents property in Santa Rosa County. Armed with doe tags, they blazingly parked on the side of the road and marched openly,orange hats on, across the open field, to the two stands on the Grand Parent’s property. With night fall rapidily approaching, one of the minors harvested a large, floppy eared doe, with one of his friends apparently missing one. When draging the deer out of the field, to their parked truck, a voice fron the near-by bushes, firmly shouted “Florida Fish and Game Officer! Put your Guns down and your hands in the air! ” Two months later and 50 community Service hours (over their Christmas Holidays) compleated, along wiith writing a 200 word essy on “Why Hunting Seasons Exist”, and payment of a fine, the three minors completed their punisment and were allowed to hunt again, The three boys will never forget the Florida “split” season dates again!
        Happy Thanksgiving!

        • JimMcClellan says:

          Oooh, that’s a tough way to learn! They probably shared Daddy’s opinion about the split season — at least right then! Happy Thanksgiving to you, Eddie.

  2. Christina says:

    Let me guess… That was the Saturday after thanksgiving and “the game” was Florida vs FSU. Lol! Love my Uncle Gene!

  3. As always, a great story!!

  4. James Reynolds says:

    Jim, I have a cousin in Taylor county that was a game warden. He tells me a story about an officer who came up on a young fellow with a doe deer and it also was out of season. The officer commented, that is a nice deer son. The young fellow said I have another one down there and I will bring it up here. The officer let him go thinking he would bring it up there. Guess what. The young fellow never returned.

  5. Ken G says:

    I can never keep the days straight anymore and I don’t feel that old. I’ve heard so many stories like this over the last few years. Told to me after I publicly acknowledged a screw up a few years ago. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only dummy out there.

    • JimMcClellan says:

      My nephew just took two weeks off, thinking he would hunt the whole time. I told him that he should have read my blog!!

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