Deer hunting

I hate deer season!

No, I really do not hate deer season. Anyone who knows me knows that deer hunting is a large part of my life and of my family’s heritage and tradition. In fact, I am right in the middle of one of my best seasons in a long time. Having spent over 100-hours in the deer woods over the past few weeks, there are a few observations I would like to make about the frustrations, aggravations and consternations of deer season.

Many of the things I am about to describe are shared by all of us who enjoy spending time in the woods. Some are unavoidable, while others are self-inflicted. Either way, these things tend to test my patience.

First let’s look at some of the things that Mother Nature throws at us. Weather is an obvious foe. I hate deer hunting in 70-degree temps. Perspiration and deer hunting just do not mix, so I complain about warm weather, until it gets cold. Then a new list of complaints emerges, including numb toes, fogged glasses and frozen canteens.

There are so many distractions in the timber. I hate those long stems with three or four leaves at the very top. Every time the wind blows, I reach for the safety. Even after doing this countless times, each time the leaves blow it looks like deer movement. What I call ragweed does the same thing. And how about that single leaf that is attached to its branch with a rubber band?  It just hangs there and spins, endlessly. I hate that!

There are few things that can wake you up from a deer season nap quicker than falling hedge apples. The cold temperatures, combined with some very windy days, caused hedge apples to fall on a regular basis. I reached for my gun on an equally regular basis.

How about squirrels? I can never find them when I am carrying a .22 but give me a bow or a muzzleloader and they come to me like bees to a bloom. There are other forest creatures that can hamper a good deer hunt such as woodpeckers, crows, turkeys and the occasional skunk that can really stink up your hunt. Deer hunters should just see deer. That is just the way it should be.

Equipment issues are often huge distractions. Most of these fall under the above-mentioned heading of “self-inflicted.” Little things like forgetting your gloves at the truck, remembering your rain gear is at home as the sky opens up, or not having a knife with you after a kill. What about grabbing your .30-06 and your son’s .30-30 shells. Sound familiar?

I remember an opening day walking to my stand. There was this annoying rattle as I walked. I stopped several times and put my rifle against a tree and checked everything on me but couldn’t find the source of the noise. Later that morning, as a nice buck appeared, I raised my rifle and looked through the scope. Instead of seeing cross-hairs, I saw an X. The scope ring screws had backed-off and my scope was rolling around in its rings. That was causing the annoying rattle. No shot was taken. Frustrating!

Other hunters can also aggravate you as you hunt. Trespassers are the worst, but innocent events can mess you up too. I remember the one and only time my Dad and I took my brother-in-law deer hunting. To keep him from getting into trouble, we put him on a stand right in the middle of an 800-acre farm. His only instruction was to stay in the stand. Dad saw him walking in the woods on one end of the farm at 8:30 the first morning, and I saw him go by me at the other end of the property at 9:15. Enough said.

Even with all of this, I look forward to deer season like a kid waiting for Christmas. The very first season that causes me no excitement or anticipation will be the season I have a sporting goods sale of biblical proportion. I truly appreciate this blessing and I thank the Lord for this resource.

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