Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

chasdeer.jpgCharleston city officials think they’ve finally found the solution to the city’s deer problem.

Under a compromise reached earlier this week between the city and the state Division of Natural Resources, hunters who take part in Charleston’s annual urban deer hunt will be allowed to kill up to seven whitetails. The previous limit had been two.

The more liberal limit certainly should encourage hunters to take more deer. But it won’t have nearly as great an effect as the doe-buck ratio prescribed by the limit.

Previous city hunts were “hunter’s choice;” bowhunters were allowed to take males or females. Most hunters, dazzled by the opportunity to bag naive, city-dwelling trophy bucks, sat patiently in their tree stands and let does and smaller bucks pass by unharmed.

Under the new regulations, five of the seven-deer limit must be females. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.

As a DNR biologist once explained to me: “When a hunter kills a buck, he kills one deer — the buck. When a hunter kills a doe, he kills the equivalent of three deer — the doe and the two fawns she would have borne the following spring.”

DNR officials have long said the best way to control a deer population is by killing females. It’s good to see Charleston’s city administrators finally aiming that direction.

‘Macho status symbols?’

pickup.jpgIt isn’t often a radio news broadcast can red-line my blood pressure, but one this morning sure did.

The announcer, from one of the big national networks, was reporting on President Obama’s Tuesday announcement of new federal automobile fuel-efficiency standards. The announcer predicted that the proposed increase in minimum mileage per gallon from its current 27.5 mpg to 35.5 mpg would “make pickup trucks so expensive they would used strictly for work, and not for macho status symbols.”

Macho status symbols? Macho status symbols?!

To hoity-toity types who sip martinis at Beltway cocktail parties, that might be the perception. To those of us in flyover country, it’s an out-and-out insult.

Call the average home handyman’s pickup a “macho status symbol” and he’ll show you the retaining wall he built, stone by stone, with rocks hauled in the back of his truck. Call the average deer hunter’s pickup a “macho status symbol” and he’ll open his freezer and show you the venison he hauled home last fall. Call the average camper’s truck a “macho status symbol” and he’ll wonder how the hell else he would tow a camping trailer around.

To many of us — no, make that most of us — pickup trucks are tools. Nothing more. They haul our lumber, tow our boats and take us places our passenger cars simply can’t go.

“Macho status symbols.” Harrumph!