The hunt for a prize buck begins with bow season on Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

There hasn't been much on Phillip Murphy's mind for the last few weeks than this Saturday.

When you think of Saturday's in the South, you might think of the big college football game upcoming.

But football couldn't be further from Murphy's mind. Murphy is counting down the days until sunrise this Saturday morning when bow hunting season begins for whitetail deer.

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&#8221After Jan. 31 (when most game animal season's close), you are looking forward to mid-October. It's like Auburn and Alabama. After the game, the next day you see who is gonna be the better team the next year. The anticipation just builds,“ Murphy explained.

For some hunters in the state, bow season provides an opportunity to do some scouting before the rifle season comes in. That's not the case for Murphy, who has been bow hunting for 25 years.

&#8221I don't even own a rifle,“ he said.

For Murphy and fellow bow hunters, he said that bow hunting allows more of challenge.

&#8221You have to do more scouting to know where they are going to be because you are going to need them to be within a shorter range for a bow than for a rifle,“ said Murphy, who also is the secretary/treasurer of the Bowhunters of Alabama. &#8221It's just more challenging using a bow than a rifle.“

Murphy said that he was introduced to bow hunting by watching a sportsman show in his teenage years. Then he went out and bought a bow. Now he hunts all over the country.

&#8221It's not just for the redneck folks, either,“ Murphy said with a laugh. &#8221People you see on the street like doctors, lawyers and what have you also are big-time hunters.“

And that means big time money for the state of Alabama.

Deer hunting, alone, in the state is a million-dollar business.

And not all of the money is coming from within the state. Bryan Salter operates a local hunting club in Butler County and said that he has hunters come from across the country to deer hunt just in Butler County.

Like Murphy, Salter said that he prefers to hunt with a bow.

&#8221I started about nine years ago when some guys talked me into trying it. Now I'm hooked on it,“ he said.

While both dream of finding that trophy to put up on the wall after this season, they both said there is more to deer hunting than just the kill.

&#8221When it begins to cool down and the seasons change, I get fired up,“ Salter said. &#8221It's just incredible to be out there and just watch nature unfold right in front of you.“

Still Murphy and Salter are hoping for a better year as far as trophies are concerned. Salter said that the trophies weren't as plentiful last year probably because of the effects from Hurricane Ivan, which struck just a month before bow season started.

&#8221I expect the same this year,“ he said. &#8221I expect a lot of small bucks, but there will be a certain number of mature bucks, too.“

And the possibility of landing that trophy seems to be rising, according to Salter.

&#8221I think people are picking more of what they want, and with the decline of dog hunting, deer get to live longer,“ he said.