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The Back 40

Tag Soup and Good Memories

Sun, January 20, 2013

All in all, it’s been a pretty good season.  I didn’t see many deer, that’s for sure.  However, I was able to get the one I was after.  I also didn’t get in as many hunts with my kids as I would have liked.  Their busy schedules kept them out of the woods a lot this season.  The few times I did get to hunt with them though, we made some fond memories.  My daughter’s spiker, my son’s miss on that same deer just days before.  The sibling ribbing that came along with that spike.  All good memories. 

As usual, I was served up a little tag soup this year…Okay, a lot of tag soup.  In my fanny pack remains…

1 landowner archery antlerless permit.
2 over-the-counter archery permits.
2 landowner firearm permits.

You know, tag soup isn’t really that bad tasting though.  Actually it tastes pretty good.  To some, I imagine it tastes a little like humble pie.  But not to me.  In seasons/areas with low deer numbers, it’s just good conservation to let some deer walk.  Especially the does.  Leave them alone and they’ll make more for you.  No does were taken on my property this season.  Hopefully that’ll pay dividends down the road.  As I’ve said here before, be your own game manager.  When the IDNR wants me to shoot more deer, I say no thanks.  Not until I have more anyway. 

Overshooting is not always to blame for low deer numbers.  Other factors come into play as well.  Predation, drought, disease, etc.  However, overshooting is something we have complete control over.  Be a steward of you land and its animals.  Whether you own the property you hunt or not, it’s the hunter’s job to pay attention and act accordingly.  Let’s take this great Whitetail state and keep it going for future generations to enjoy. 

There are stages to Whitetail hunting.  First, you want a deer.  Any deer.  Just please let me get a deer.  Second, you want to shoot a lot of deer…all in one season if possible.  Third, you look for mature bucks with large antlers.  Fourth, you become a steward of your land.  Finally, your goal is to take others hunting so that they may enjoy the woods as we do.  Some, however, get sort of stuck in Stage 2.  I think we all know someone stuck in Stage 2.  These are the hunters who need to be educated.  Not with harsh words and name calling, but with well mannered and well thought out words.  Harshness will only get you resistance.  Resistance will get you too many dead deer. 

Tonight I walked out of the woods for the last time this season.  A cold and windy afternoon hunt.  As was expected, nothing was seen.  I was looking for one specific deer.  A severely injured doe that I caught on trail camera video about a week ago.  I was sure the coyotes would beat me to her and I’m afraid that probably happened.  I just figured it would be a lot easier on the poor girl if I got her with one slug as opposed to being eaten alive.  I didn’t see her tonight, so I walked out with both of my gun permits unfilled.  But like I said, still a good season.  No one got hurt.  I got to hunt with my favorite hunting partners…my kids.  And I put another one on the wall. 

Now my thoughts turn to coyotes, then sheds, then turkeys and mushrooms.  Bring it on!

I hope you all had a great season as well.

John Soehn


Glad you had a successful year John… Made it out this afternoon for one last hunt myself this season…Had a shooter walk within 70 yards to wind me and say see you next year!!! As for the stage of hunter I have become, I guess I am stuck in the last three stages… Nothing better than improving the land we hunt and getting kids involved as well as keeping the older guys/gals out there, but I still catch myself being selfish in those first weeks of November!!!

Posted by outdoorlivin247 on January 20

Got a pot of it simmering right now.  2 over the counter archery, 1 firearm, and my son’s firearm permit.  Son had plans with a friend today so I ventured out hoping to add a doe to the freezer.  None were harvested off of this property to my knowledge.  Had seen a herd of 8 come out the last weekend of December.  This time, right about 4:15, out come 9 does, of course from the opposite end of the field that I was at.  Good news a nice buck tagged along to prove that he had survived the year, and ought to be a dandy next year. 
I will agree, though, successes based more on spending time on stand with my son playing I-spy when things got boring (of course only so many colors in the timber in the winter smile.

Posted by bradcrisco on January 20

Very well written article.  Congrats to you and your kids for a great season.  Next to your view on letting the does walk, my favorite part of the article is the mentioning of sheds, TURKEYS and mushrooms!  Always something great to look forward to in the outdoors!

Posted by CCHUNTER2024600 on January 20

Even in the best of seasons, I always count on tag soup. This year is no different. Everything’s better with a little tabasco sauce. This year was a good year for me and my family all the way around. I think everyone in my group got at least one buck (2.5 y or older). The most memorable for me this season was that we let a girl from our church hunt our property and she got her first deer ever this year - with a bow no less with a single arrow from 25 yds out - and it was a decent 8 pointer. She’s having it mounted. Being a part of her joy and success will define this season for me.

Posted by Walston on January 20

Good blog John.  I too had a full helping of tag soup (2 gun, 2 archery).  But my boy took one during youth and another during regular gun.  That made it worth it.  Add that I am pretty sure I let the 8 my boy shot walk the week before, and it just made it better.  I had opportunities this year but I guess I’m just picky.  Good luck on the dogs, sheds, and turkey.

Posted by OZ on January 20

For the first time in my life I am not eating tag soup (well I am eating an archery turkey tag, but I have ate one of those the past ten years) but all my deer tags are filled and instead of tag soup, I can have some deer chili instead! smile

I am ready for spring turkey season and some freshly fried morels!

Posted by illinibowhunter on January 21

we had 2 arch 2 gun 1 muz tags for soup my son got a buck with the muzzleloader he made a good shot thru both lungs it made it close to 400 yrds never would,ve beleived it without seening it me and my younger son were in a ground blind when the older one shot it trailed it till around 10 that night and my youngest found the next morning it was really cool to be with both of them and to retreive the deer also we haven’t seen many deer the last two yrs so we havrn’t taken any does I told my 15 year old he could take any he wanted he said no we need to see more deer so he wouldn’t take any does either there’s guy that hunts the same property we talked about not taking any does last year also he complains about seeing any deer also he shot two does the first morning of bow season last year tis year he never seen a deer the first 9 times out 10 and 11 times he killed a doe each time so people just don’t get it dead does don’t reproduce

Posted by herman on January 21

Tag soup not so bad when memories last a lifetime. Some of my foundest memories in the outdoors didn’t result in back straps or landing a monster fish but oh the memories. Wouldn’t trade them. Precious times laughed about and shared over and over. HERMAN, it amazes me how at times some of the people complaining the most about lack of game are the biggest offenders at violating choices that would improve the future. Sometimes I wonder if they even enjoy the outdoors but who am I to judge another just wish their choices didn’t have such an impact as it does… I will keep building memories and relationships and even on occasion get to harvest. EXCELLENT article thanks John!

Posted by enjycreation on January 21

Yep, swallowed a couple of doe tags, but then, I do every year. It’s too bad they make us buy does tags when purchasing a buck tag. Oops, I almost forgot; I ate a turkey tag too. Those doggone turkeys :-(

Posted by Marc Anthony on January 21

Oh yeah, turkey tags.  I’ve never used one of the Fall tags.  I get the free landowner ones every year and never fill any.  It’s like the state is sending me kindling.  Coyotes beware.  I’m after your butts soon…..very soon.  Gonna let the 22/250 eat.

Posted by Treehugger on January 21

HAHAHA! I didn’t count the fall turkey tags either.  Buy them every year and have yet to fill one.

Posted by OZ on January 21

Great article John!  I only had to eat one!  It’s good to be a tight wad sometimes!  I only bought 1 combo tag so I wouldn’t have so much to eat!  My goal was 1 doe and 1 mature buck.  He managed to elude me this year!  Still as always, a great year! 

I’ve been waiting on shed season for 9 months!  Time to dust off the boots!

Posted by Andy Meador on January 23

ANDY, about two weeks ago I pulled a card from one of my trail cameras.  It had 171 videos on it.  Of those videos, there were about 8-10 different bucks making several appearances.  Not one of those bucks had a horn on its head.  I’ve never seen a drop this early.  Never.

Posted by Treehugger on January 23

I picked up 2 today John.  Small fork and a 4 point right side

Posted by Andy Meador on January 24

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