One of the great things about the outdoors is that you rarely come home without learning new lessons.
Last weekend, for instance, I learned that Mother Nature has a great sense of humor - and that the namesake of "Murphy's Law" must have been a deer hunter.
I drove down to our hunting club the Friday before black powder season to move some stands and scout a new clearcut. I finished by late afternoon and - armed only with binoculars and a camera - decided to enjoy the sunset from a favorite stand.
Despite the hot temperatures, deer appeared immediately. First a five-pointer, then a small eight point, wandered through a tangle of briers between a Carolina bay and a strip of tall, planted pines.
Closer to dusk, I noticed a doe bedded at the edge of a clearcut. She lifted her head occasionally, allowing the afternoon sun to illuminate the whites of her ears.
Precisely at sunset, as I glassed the thickets looking for the doe, I noticed a wide, round rear end of a deer. It seemed larger than the doe. Then it lifted its head and turned around. What a gorgeous buck!
It could have been with the doe all afternoon, or perhaps he came out from the woodline as darkness approached. But it was one of the prettiest eight-pointers you'd ever want to see - right there below my stand.
Of course, the season didn't open until the following morning, so I enjoyed the show and snapped a few photos as darkness fell.
I hunted that stand Saturday morning, and again that afternoon. Did the heavy old buck re-appear? Of course not, but at least I have a few grainy photos to enjoy.
STATEWIDE SEASON: Now that the early week of hunting for youth hunters and black powder enthusiasts has come and gone, Georgia's 2016-17 whitetail season is finally in full swing, with the statewide dates running from Saturday (Oct. 22) through Jan. 8.
During firearms deer season last year, more than 302,000 hunters harvested almost 300,000 deer in the state, according to Georgia's Wildlife Resources Division, with similar numbers anticipated this season.
"Hunters already know the benefits of having a few deer in the freezer," said John Bowers, Georgia's game management chief. "However, we hope that people interested in providing healthier, organic meals for their families take an interest in the pursuit of their own meat."
Although Georgia now has a single statewide season, the either-sex days vary from region to region. This year, a new interactive map has been created to allow hunters to easily check opportunities available for the counties they hunt. Details are available at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/deer-opportunities.
ONLINE GAME CHECK-IN: While deer hunters have utilized a deer harvest record in the past (to record the date and county of kill), beginning this deer season, all hunters on both public and private lands must record their deer on the harvest record AND report their harvest using Georgia Game Check.
All deer must be reported within 72 hours of harvest.
However, deer taken to processors/coolers must be reported before the deer can be left at the place of business. More details are available at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecord-GeorgiaGameCheck.