altThe yard has been mowed for the last time of the season at the farm. The cattle have been vaccinated and wormed. The bulls have been separated from the cows to prepare for calving season. The farm equipment is currently undergoing thorough inspection and greasing. The changing leaves are just about as majestic as any autumn I can remember in Arkansas. But most importantly, it’s deer hunting season.

Last weekend my husband was away in South Dakota pheasant hunting with a group of friends. However, here at home it was youth hunt weekend and I had two little boys who wanted to harvest some deer. Saturday morning, I suited up with my 8-year-old son and we headed to the woods to scope out the situation. Unfortunately, our nosey cows had trailed us to the deer stand and were very loud, so we didn’t get a break that morning. Later that afternoon our friend’s son came out and took our younger son to the deer stand. Our 6-year-old did not sit still very long but he made his best effort not to wiggle for at least a couple hours.

On Sunday morning, our oldest son went back to the woods with our friend’s son and returned early with blood stripes under both of his beautiful blue eyes. He was so excited to have shot his first doe. Our friend, Kyle, a traditional deer hunter, made sure our son paid his respects to the deer he’d shot and made him help drag her out of the hunting hideout. Together, they worked to harvest the meat as they hung her in our shop. They determined by the age of her teeth that she was an older doe and it was her time to go.

I scrambled around on my smart phone to figure out how to check in a youth hunter’s deer. Once we figured that out – it was official. His dad and I were very proud of him and were thankful for his hunting buddy. We scrolled our social media that afternoon admiring all the deer harvested (big and small) by other excited youth hunters across our great state. There were some beautiful bucks and does and proud little hunters to go with them.

I did not grow up hunting. I have fond memories of the energy opening weekend of modern gun season always produced in my little hometown. The liveliness of the season hasn’t changed in our household today. Hunting season is the perfect opportunity to teach our children about the importance of conservation in Arkansas. We are blessed to live an area with an abundance of deer and other wildlife. Responsible hunters and fisherman are the future of conservation in Arkansas.

As you purchase your hunting license, trout or duck stamp – thank you. Each of these purchases’ funds conservation efforts across the state. The excitement of little hunters is priceless. Let’s continue to inspire young men and women of the next generation to hunt and fish responsibly and continue to preserve the beauty of Arkansas. Best of luck to those of you pursuing the “big buck” this season, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

Jody HarrisEditorial / Opinionsconservation,Deer,hunters,hunting,Jody Harris,pheasant hunting,The hunt is on,youth deer huntThe yard has been mowed for the last time of the season at the farm. The cattle have been vaccinated and wormed. The bulls have been separated from the cows to prepare for calving season. The farm equipment is currently undergoing thorough inspection and greasing. The changing leaves are...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma