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Funnyman Foxworthy is serious about deer hunting

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by RJ Schuknecht, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. RJ Schuknecht

    RJ Schuknecht

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    ARTICLE

    Christian Berg Outdoors

    Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has performed in enough sold-out arenas that crowds don't bother him anymore.

    But when Foxworthy strode onto the stage June 24 at the Valley Forge Convention Center, the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time didn't feel as confident as usual.

    That's because Foxworthy wasn't there to tell jokes. He was there to share his hunting experiences at the Quality Deer Management Association's 6th annual national convention.

    ''I can stand up in front of 50,000 people and do comedy and never think about it, but to come here and talk today, it makes me a nervous wreck,'' said Foxworthy, a self-described ''deer hunting nut'' who referred to several well-known wildlife biologists in the audience as his heroes.

    ''I'm not getting paid to be here. I paid my own way to come and do this. I'm here today because I love deer, I love the sport, and in the last five years, I have become totally addicted to quality deer management. Next to my God, my family and my friends, my greatest passion in life is the whitetail deer.''

    Foxworthy has made a fortune parlaying the popularity of his trademark redneck jokes into national comedy tours, albums and videos, countless television and radio programs, 11 best-selling books and a line of greeting cards, T-shirts and other merchandise.

    Despite all that success, and a genuine passion for his work, Foxworthy says he falls asleep many nights thinking about how to improve his hunting success by installing a new food plot or moving a treestand to a different location.

    Although Foxworthy has hunted deer since he was a teenager, the 47-year-old Georgia native said his current fixation on whitetails coincides with his purchase of a 2,400-acre property not far from his Atlanta home five years ago.

    ''It was the best money I ever spent,'' Foxworthy said, ''because it changed me from being a deer hunter to being a deer manager. The pursuit of deer was no longer a three-month event in the fall. It was now a 12-month obsession.''

    Like thousands of other hunters who own property, Foxworthy quickly became enamored with the quality deer management philosophy, which is centered on improving whitetail quality by providing superior habitat and using hunting as a management tool.

    For Foxworthy and other quality deer management practitioners, that generally means planting and maintaining plenty of food plots, harvesting enough does to prevent deer from becoming overpopulated and letting bucks live long enough to fulfill their potential in terms of breeding and antler development.

    Foxworthy talks to his land manager every day while he is on the road, and he compared maintaining his property to working on a puzzle that will never be finished.

    ''We all spend the time and money on this thing for the same reason,'' Foxworthy told his fellow deer devotees. ''It's because we love these animals. I've seen a million of them…and I still get excited every time I see a whitetail. The more I learn about them, the more I learn about how to create an environment where they can thrive.''

    To illustrate the passion he and his brethren feel — and perhaps to prove he has a sense of humor about deer — Foxworthy wrote a handful of quality deer management jokes that play on the punch lines from his famous ''you might be a redneck'' act.

    Among them were:

    ''If you have more pictures of deer than your children, you might be a quality deer manager.''

    ''If your deer eat better than your family does, you might be a quality deer manager.''

    ''If your deer have new bedding cover, but your wife doesn't, you might be a quality deer manager.''

    In the five years Foxworthy has owned his hunting property, quality deer management practices have paid measurable dividends, and the average weight of bucks taken there has increased 27 percent from 184 pounds to 234 pounds.

    Last fall, Foxworthy took his best buck yet off the property — a 255-pound 12-pointer that scored 1786/8. The deer, known as Zeus, was 51/2 years old and had been passed up by Foxworthy the previous season.

    ''No deer I've taken in my life means as much to me as this deer,'' said Foxworthy, who proudly displayed a shoulder mount of Zeus in front of the stage. ''I really do believe quality deer management is the future of deer hunting.''

    For more information about the Quality Deer Management Association, including a list of local branches throughout Pennsylvania, visit http://www.qdma.org .

    christian.berg@mcall.com

    610-778-2252