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Last-Week Deer: Tips to having success at the end of the season

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    If these bucks aren’t enough to whet your appetite to persevere through the rifle season, you might want to check your pulse. Jerome Balliet of Tamaqua downed this buck while hunting with family in West Penn Township. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published November 30. 2018 11:33PM

Hunters have a popular saying used to justify their actions as they head afield when the odds are not in their favor, such as sideways sleet, for example.

When someone asks them why they are going hunting, they usually reply with some version of “you can’t get one from the couch.” And this is true.

I’ve heard another saying used by friends who are raising children, something along the line of “pushing a kid is like pushing a string.” In other words, trying to push a teenager doesn’t do any good. And numerous studies have shown that children truly do need more sleep than adults, at least nine hours a night.

However, there are exceptions. There are kids who can’t sleep, who wake several times during the night to see what time it is, who are easily awakened and quickly ready for action. Those are the kids who head to bed with visions of deer in their heads.

In 2016, on the last day of the state’s firearms season for deer, Tamaqua’s Jerome Balliet, now 13, was no exception. He woke up easily and got ready to hunt with his dad Jeremy and grandfather Bruce. The trio headed to the woods in West Penn Township and settled in, hoping deer would come their way.

“I knew it was the last day of the season and so we were definitely going to go,” Balliet said, talking about his hunt late last summer. “I remember that it was really cold and that we hadn’t seen anything from dawn on.”

“Then around 9, I saw a buck just walking through the woods, coming uphill towards me,” he said. “I dropped something, and it made a small noise, small, but it was enough to make him stop and look – and that gave me a perfect opportunity.”

Jerome had dropped a buck that for most people would be the buck of a lifetime. Given his youth and love of hunting, he has time to take bigger bucks. But on that day, if there were any doubts in his mind about the caliber of the buck, his dad erased them.

“He was jumping around, even kicking up dirt, and yelling,” Jerome recalled. “It was a day I’ll always remember, being with my dad and grandfather.”

Want to be successful during the last week of the season? Take a page from the Balliet’s playbook:

•Scout on Sunday and have a plan according to deer sign.

•Get in early and sit. During the first week, the deer dodged a lot of human activity, everything from numerous deer drives and much higher numbers of people in the woods. Do your best to keep your movement unnoticeable.

•Keep wind direction in mind as you choose your spot and keep it in mind as you approach your spot. If you’ve scouted, you know where the trails and bedding areas are, and you’re less likely to bump and alert jumpy deer as you enter the woods.

•Don’t give up on a spot if you don’t see anything right away. As the temperatures drop and stay low, deer often limit their movements to the warmest part of the day, to conserve energy and calories.

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