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Patrick Durkin

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The Rapid and Radical Evolution of Deer Hunting

Whitetail

The Rapid and Radical Evolution of Deer Hunting

When Greg Miller first hunted whitetails with his dad and fellow Millers in November 1964, they entered northern Wisconsin’s big woods each dawn with more hope than strategy and more motivation than planning. Wearing a red coat and carrying a Model 94 in .32 Special, Miller shared his clan’s intense...
Science Shows Turkey Hunters Have More Fun Than Deer Hunters

Turkey

Science Shows Turkey Hunters Have More Fun Than Deer Hunters

State-employed biologists often suffer insomnia and facial tics caused by cranky hunters who demand more deer and bigger bucks. But before agency supervisors suggest some R&R or group counseling to prevent employee burnout, they should try this: Appoint the struggling soul as the agency’s “Chief...
'Every Chunk of Rabbit:' A Tribute to Ursula

Small Game

'Every Chunk of Rabbit:' A Tribute to Ursula

For as long as I knew her, she was ready to die. Damn her. No one treasured work, love, laughter, family, and devotion more than she did. But for her last 30-plus years, if the bucket were sitting there, you knew she would kick it without fear. Loved ones saw no bravado in her attitude. That was...
Why Deer Make People Stupid

Whitetail

Why Deer Make People Stupid

Most hunters or their families know someone who loses their common sense or credibility over deer hunting or management. Deer. They make people stupid. Some deer hunters and wildlife professionals are immune to the disorder, though that’s rare. Far more yearn for a cure, but usually for a dear...
American Deer Camps: A Dying Tradition

Whitetail

American Deer Camps: A Dying Tradition

Tom Heberlein never missed a deer camp from 1973 through 2019, but COVID-19 concerns caused him to break that streak in November 2020. Heberlein, 75, stayed home rather than risk his health by confining himself with his buddies for five nights inside his northern Wisconsin shack along with a nine...
Why Are Bucks Always Last in Line?

Big Game

Why Are Bucks Always Last in Line?

According to deer-hunting lore, wise bucks always stop and watch from secure cover before entering fields or large openings. These mature monarchs supposedly stay hidden to patiently monitor other deer in the field and let them feed into range of potential dangers. In human terms, those bucks act...
Playgrounds to Ponds: When Deer Die in Strange Places

Whitetail

Playgrounds to Ponds: When Deer Die in Strange Places

I’m still waiting for two sticks of summer sausage from a buck that died in my driveway in November 2015. Something tells me the guy down the street forgot all about his promise to bring my reward for finding his bow kill. Funny thing, gratitude: It’s abundant in the moment but fizzles faster than...
Are Mule Deer Going Extinct?

Big Game

Are Mule Deer Going Extinct?

Hunters have been watching or reading about the mule deer’s decline for so long that some worry they’ll witness its end. Writers and speakers often quote Professor Valerius Geist’s opening lines of Chapter 8 in his 1990 book “Mule Deer Country,” where he warned: “For all its current abundance, the...
When Hunters Find Dead People

Whitetail

When Hunters Find Dead People

People who disappear in woods and marshes are often found by those not looking for them—like hunters. The hunters are seldom named in news reports. More often they’re identified by what they were hunting that day, be it deer, ducks, turkeys, shed antlers, mushrooms, or wild berries. The lead...
What is Killing America’s Fawns?

Whitetail

What is Killing America’s Fawns?

Many hunters picture coyotes scouring woodlots from May to June, snatching newborn fawns between sun-dappled trilliums, and heading home with a hindquarter clamped between their jaws. Why wouldn’t we envision such scenes? Trail cameras across the U.S. often snap grip-and-grins of coyotes, bobcats...