Nowadays the campfire is Facebook.
Specifically for deer hunters in Middle Tennessee, it is Tennessee Deer Hunters on Facebook, founded and overseen by Lebanon’s Wes Stone.
“I started it in 2013 when Facebook began getting popular with group stuff,” says Stone, a realtor and devout deer hunter.
“I thought it would be a good way for hunters to share their photos,” he says “As it began to grow and friends were added, we included more and more information. We keep up with each other throughout the season, year after year.”
While the Facebook exchanges go on year-round, the peak period of activity is from October through December. November is the peak month, when muzzleloader season and gun seasons are underway. For deer hunters, that’s prime time.
Last November 2.2 million comments were posted.
“During the last two years we added 200 members a day, October through December,” Stone says.
To become a member, type Tennessee Deer Hunters on Facebook and ask to join.
There is no membership fee or other cost involved. Membership is approved by Stone or one of the 10 friends who assist him with the site.
“We keep it clean and family-oriented,” he says. “If something gets through that shouldn’t be there, it’s removed as soon as it’s discovered.”
Is there a concern about someone intentionally posting something crude, negative or inflammatory in an attempt to give deer hunters and deer hunting a bad name?
“So far that hasn’t happened,” Stone says. “We keep a pretty close eye on the content and if something is posted – even a swear word – it’s immediately removed and the person who posted it is dropped.”
With such a wide membership, it’s easy to follow deer hunting trends. For example, last season the overall harvest numbers were down state-wide, but were stable and even up in certain areas.
Some counties in which the harvest was down were believed to have been affected by Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and hunters in those areas could exchange personal experiences and data.
They can also pass along refresher reminders about the TWRA’s restrictions on importing certain deer products from various states due to disease concerns.
“There are lots of good services that can be preformed, in addition to just sharing photos and hunting stories,” Stone says. “It’s a good, fast way to communicate and swap information.”
And when you’re finished, you don’t have to remember to put out the campfire.