Look what showed up…

Look what showed up on my trail cam at our farm right after the Missouri fire arms deer season ended. This guy made it through the gauntlet , possibly because he’s totally nocturnal (look at the time signature). But he still had the rest of archery season and maybe black powder season to go.

I’m not deer hunting in Missouri right now because I’m turning into an ancient geezer who can’t climb up into and out of a tree stand and because MODOC wants to charge me over $200 for a deer tag to hunt on my own land where I pay Missouri taxes. But it’s funny how, if you’re not hunting, you sort of start rooting for the deer. I’m glad this little buck made it through another season but I hope he winds up in somebody’s freezer before he gets old and tough.

M2E1L0-0R350B300 M2E1L0-0R350B300

The Return Of Bambi

Remember the classic Disney movie Bambi that we all saw when we were kids? If memory serves me correctly the cruel hunters shot Bambi’s mom. Normal kids were horrified but personally I thought the bitch had it coming.

This little clip is from my book Antlers Away, available on Amazon.com  or you can order one from me and I’ll sign it and draw a little picture of a deer inside the front cover at no extra charge.



Bruce Cochran      Sept./Oct. Wyoming Wildlife News    


I was in full fishing mode and the female voice on my GPS commanded me to go through Buckville on the way to a secret stream that only I and several thousand other people knew about.  I’ve been married over fifty years so I’m used to doing what a female voice tells me to do.

I had heard of Buckville. Never been there.  As I drove into town I couldn’t help noticing the billboard that proclaimed Buckville the deer capital of the Universe.  The only café in town was right on the highway and the parking lot was jammed with eighteen-wheelers, usually a sign of edible grub, so I decided to stop for lunch. Several weary truckers were eating in an area marked DRIVERS ONLY. Not being a trucker, I wondered what would happen if I took a seat there. I decided not to chance it.

The waitress brought a menu and I ordered the chicken fried steak for $8.95. I glanced around the café and wondered why there was anything else on the menu. Everyone seemed to be eating chicken fried steak.

While waiting for my food I browsed through a local newspaper. The first baby born in Buckville this year was christened… you guessed it… Buck. And she was a girl. I noticed the rest room doors were marked Bucks and Does. Looking at the high school girls basketball schedule on the wall I saw their colors were blaze orange and camo and they were called The Daring Does. Staring out the window I noticed for the first time the MacDonald’s up the street had golden antlers instead of arches. That was the clincher. I was definitely in deer country.

I finished my chicken fried steak, paid up, and ambled toward the door. Outside I stopped to talk with several old men in overalls who were seated on a bench, whittling.

 “I’ve heard this is the deer capital of the universe. Are there really a lot of deer around here?”

The old men stared at me like I was from another planet, then looked at each other as though trying to decide which one should field this absurd question. Finally one spoke.

“Are there a lot of deer around here?” he croaked rhetorically. “Why Son, they come into town at high noon, walk right down Main Street, and pee on the school bus tires!” The others nodded in agreement and continued to whittle.

“The dang bucks rub the velvet off their antlers on the lamp posts!” added another old-timer.

I decided right then, come October, I would definitely be back in Buckville.


It’s much cooler now, the hardwoods have taken on their fall colors and most are shedding leaves. The aspens are school bus yellow and some are starting to fade. The population of Buckville seems to have tripled and most of the newcomers on the streets are wearing blaze orange. A huge WELCOME DEER HUNTERS banner is stretched between two lampposts above Main Street. I wonder where they keep it the rest of the year. Probably in a closet in city hall with the WELCOME BUCKVILLE HIGH ALUMNAE, WELCOME TROUT FISHERMEN, WELCOME SHRINERS, and WELCOME ELK HUNTERS banners.

The streets are crowded with SUVs and pickups, most with camper shells or dusty ATVs in the beds. I finally find a parking spot and walk several blocks to the café where I see scrawled on the window in huge blaze orange letters OPENING DAY SPECIAL!! CHICKEN FRIED STEAK! ONLY $15.95.

The same waitress waddles toward my table. This time she’s wearing a blaze orange vest, and perched on her old gray head are a pair of floppy velvet antlers. She hands me a menu and I ask for a cup of decaff coffee. The room goes silent. Other customers – especially the truckers – stop eating, put down their forks and stare at me.  The waitress rolls her eyes and stomps back toward the kitchen.

Reading from the top of the menu I see “SCOPE OUT OUR DEER HUNTER SPECIALS!”  Ms. Antlerhead brings my decaff and I order the Opening Day Special.

“Don’t let it scare you”, she says, scribbling on her order pad. “It’s blaze orange but that’s just food coloring.”

It’s comforting to know that no one will draw a bead on my chicken fried steak, mistaking it for a trophy muley.

I finish my meal and leave a couple of bills on the table. I notice most of the other customers have already left and there seems to be a crowd gathering out front. I walk out and see the same old men, still sitting and whittling, now waist deep in a huge pile of wood shavings.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“You must be the feller who ordered decaff,” says one, without looking up.

“Parade”, answers the more informative one.

I hear music in the distance, growing louder. The local high school marching band in all their blaze orange and camo splendor is approaching, all wearing antlers on their heads. The band is followed by a pickup truck with a deer stand in the bed, and seated high on the stand is an attractive young lady, waving to the crowd and tossing out little sample packets of doe-in-heat scent. She’s wearing a blaze orange formal with a sash proclaiming her to be Miss Opening Day.

I pick my way through the blaze orange crowd, past the face-painting booth and the pony rides, past the petting zoo, to my truck. After buying a deer tag I head out of town in hopes of finding a place to hunt tomorrow. On the way I swerve to miss a nice four pointer loping along the highway toward town.

 He seems to be heading straight for Main Street and the school buses.

Bruce Cochran

Let the bitching begin!


There are many things I admire about the Missouri Dept. of Conservation but their deer hunting regulations are not among them.

I and four other Kansas residents own a 190-acre parcel of land in Bates County, MO. We bought it for duck, deer, and turkey hunting. In the past we purchased non-resident landowner deer and turkey permits for half price. Several years ago MDOC raised the price of deer and turkey tags and did away with non-resident landowner permits. Now I pay full price, $225, to hunt deer on my own land. A fall turkey tag is $110. We pay taxes in MO, $591 this year, so it seems unreasonable to me that we are required to pay the full $225.

My partners who used to hunt deer and turkeys have given up hunting on our land partly for this reason. My love of the sport has compelled me to hold my nose and shell out $225 each November. In my opinion the amount of additional revenue MDOC takes in for this travesty of justice cannot possibly offset the ill will it creates.

Now let’s talk about ridiculous antler restrictions. A legal buck must have at least four points on one side. A spike buck is illegal if one spike is greater than three inches. This may work for bow hunters looking at deer from 20 to 40 yards, but firearms hunters routinely see our quarry at ranges up to 100 yards or farther and must make split second decisions. Deer seldom stand sideways for us, posing like in magazine photos. They are usually walking or partially hidden by brush. (I personally refrain from shooting at running deer.) Are we supposed to climb down from our stands, walk to that spike buck, ask him to hold still while we measure his spike, then climb back into our stand and pull the trigger? I understand the reason for these regulations is to foster the growth of bigger bucks but they are ridiculous, impossible restrictions and should be repealed.

How about the telecheck system? It’s a joke. With this system the only way an illegal hunter gets nabbed is at the processing plant and most rural hunters don’t take their deer to be processed, they butcher it themselves. In reality under this system there is no way to know how many deer are harvested in MO, and with an unlimited number of antlerless tags available at $7 a pop I don’t think MDOC cares.

MDOC should return to the check-in station system, not only to keep an accurate account of the deer kill but also for the social occasions it afforded rural communities. The old spit-and-whittle guys used to hang around the check stations to gossip about the bucks being checked in. Now this annual community event is history, thanks to the misguided policies of the Missouri Department of Conservation.