Longtime deer hunter brings hunt to him

Jackson, Miss. (AP) – You won't find Ron Manning in the record books. That's because he has never killed a record-book buck.

For Manning, his record is a personal one, killed at least one antlered buck a year for the past 50 years. Ten of them, he said, have 20-inch spreads or better, and some score over 150.

Now 69, Manning said he has been hunting deer since he was 16, a time when there weren't a lot of deer and knowledge about hunting deer spread slowly compared to today's digital flood of information.

Sometime in the 1970s, Manning said he began to develop a vision of what he wanted his Hinds County farmland of less than 200 acres to become.

"I wanted to take it a step further and get the deer to come to me,'' Manning said.

Manning explained his theory, "there are two things bucks like, food and girls. I can't provide the girls, but I can provide the food and the girls come.''

Manning said he started by planting oaks, and thousands of them. He planted saw-tooth oaks as an early fall food source and other native species of oaks to provide acorns later in the fall.

Manning says he keeps his food plots simple, "wheat and clover work in conjunction real well.''

Trying to keep groceries on the table almost year-round, Manning also plants plots of summer clover as well as sorghum, autumn olive and the occasional soybean field.

Combined with the natural browse on his land, the cupboards are always well stocked for deer.

While planting trees is often not an option for leaseholders, Manning said winter and summer food plots can be done by most.

Manning said his favorite hunting situation is where a food source meets a thick bedding area or a woodland edge. "You can bet on more traffic,'' in those areas.

While Manning said there is no substitute for spending time in the woods watching and learning about deer, he said much of his knowledge came from those who hunted before him.

One lesson he was taught by a mentor was that a deer's vision becomes more reliant on motion at a distance, a theory he got to put to the test.

"I was straddling a barbed-wire fence fixing to go into a bean field,'' Manning said. "There was an 8-point, and his head popped up at 50 yards looking dead at me.''

Standing still, Manning said he spent about three minutes raising his gun with his elbows tucked in so his outline would not change while the buck stared.

With the deer finally in his sights, Manning said he dropped him.

While not his biggest deer, Manning said it was possibly his most memorable.

"It was just something I had learned from some of the great woodsmen I have had the opportunity to go in the woods with. I was just excited to know another trick that worked.''

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