It’s November and most Louisiana outdoorsmen believe the only fall migration is the one they see over their heads.
And, that skyward stare has been filled with ducks, enough for the state’s West Zone waterfowl hunters to celebrate last weekend’s duck season with a flourish. Limits across the coastal marshes signaled the start of what wild waterfowlers hope will be the most productive duck season in a decade.
There is another migration, one that finds hunters moving north from Louisiana into Mississippi. And the treasures they want to find don’t have wings, even though some pursuers of the magnificent whitetails believe their quarry has the ability to vanish in an instant.
Zoie Sedberry has joined that migration for the past four years. Sedberry hunts with her family. Their spot is near Woodville, Miss., in treasured bottomland that produces hefty deer.
Thousands of Louisiana hunters make the trek to long-held family land in Mississippi’s southwest counties. Some are three, maybe four generations removed from the Great Depression exodus that brought Mississippi families into Louisiana seeking work in the oil and petrochemical industries establishing along the Mississippi River from St. Francisville south to Baton Rouge.
So, before the sun came up on Nov. 5’s opening day of Mississippi’s youth-only deer season, Zoie was with her dad Mike is a box stand overlooking a small clearing in an oak-studded, acorn-littered forest.
Zoie’s 11 and most deer hunters can take a guess at the rest of her story: Yes, a once-in-a-lifetime whitetail trophy - any hunter’s dream - completes the tail for the Juban Park Junior High School student.
“We were hoping to see the eight-point (buck). They had so many trail-camera pictures (of the deer),” Mike Sedberry said.
The deer’s older brother showed up.
“It was the biggest deer I’ve ever seen. My dad looked through the binoculars and went, ?Oh my gosh, he’s really big,’ and he was about 60 yards away,” Zoie said.
About that time, she admitted she made a big mistake.
“Sometimes, when I get nervous, I just say ?aah’ and fog up the scope,” the youngster said. “I breathed on the scope and I had to wait for the fog (on the scope’s lens) to clear. He was out there, broadside, for about two minutes, and he went back to eating acorns again.”
She had to wait. The fog cleared. The buck showed himself again. She lined up the shot - she fires a .243 - and took it.
“And it was perfect,” Mike Sedberry said. “The buck went 10 yards and fell. After 15 minutes, and many thankful prayers, she had her hands on her buck. The massive buck had 13 points and weighed 200 pounds with a 16-1/4-inch inside spread and (green) scored 141 inches.”
Like all deer hunters, Zoie Sedberry will have to wait the 60 days for the antlers “to dry” before it can be officially scored on the Boone and Crockett scale.
Then, sometime after Christmas, she’ll get a terrific present. Dad is having the trophy mounted at a local taxidermist.
Until then, she will enjoy the venison.
“I love to eat it,” she said. “My family puts it in everything. I like it fried,” Zoie said.
The giant buck wasn’t her first deer. She took a doe when she was 7 and a four-point two seasons ago.
Now does a seasoned hunter like her have any tips to pass along to other young hunters?
“Don’t breathe on the scope,” she blurted with a note of exasperation in her voice, a lingering anxiousness that she knows almost cost her a chance at the giant deer.
“And I can’t say ?Be quiet,’ because I’m not always quiet. I remember my dad telling me to be quiet, to be still and whisper, because I’m not used to shutting up,” she said. “And I’ve learned not to move my head so fast.”
“Another thing is don’t be too nervous and aim pretty good,” she said. “If you are (nervous), you might jerk and might not hit where you want it to.”
For now, papa Mike doesn’t have to worry about missing. He has bigger concerns that he might lose his spot in the stand.
Another deer book
It must be the year for books on hunting whitetails.
After reviewing “The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food,” and David Moreland’s “Louisiana Whitetails,” during the past month, another first-rate guide showed up last week.
“Gut It. Cut It. Cook It. The Deer Hunter’s Guide to Processing & Preparing Venison,” comes from Eric Fromm and Al Cambronne.
It’s 250 well-illustrated pages that takes a won deer and takes a hunter through every step needed to make a wild animal quality tablefare.
Fromm and Cambronne go from field dressing, to skinning, to selecting cuts of meat, then what to do with those cuts. There are pages outlining how to prepare a trophy for mounting. It comes with a companion CD that provides an equipment checklist, reference sheets, a meat-cutting chart and 50 venison recipes.
Published by Krause Publishing/F+W Media, the suggested price is $24.99.