Thursday, February 05, 2009

I’m Sad After Every Deer Season Ends


There is always a touch of sadness when after ringing in the New Year more that a month ago. The sadness starts creeping up on me about Christmas, and by New Years Day, the feeling of not deer hunting for nine months becomes too strong to ignore.

It’s a feeling of great loss. One of knowing the deer hunting season has ended for another year, and I get a bit wistful about it. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend, one we hope to greet again about eight months from now.

My thoughts turn to past hunts, the unexpected bonus of seeing a nice buck, the knowledge that the deer are slowing down as we continue to move through the winter months, and knowing that my hunting buddies are sharing a similar loss.

I remember the early October hunts in shirt-sleeves, and the continuous east winds that seem to have become a greater part of our autumn weather than ever before. Looking back, it’s easy to see how a buck or two of sizable proportions managed to slip past me without being seen.

It’s coming to full draw on a decent buck, and knowing that to touch the release trigger would mean a dead buck. It’s also knowing that on a good many occasions, a shot was turned down for any one of a dozen different reasons.

My hunting is an extension of my love of this outdoor pastime, and it’s my way of helping to manage deer numbers in my hunting areas. It also is something that means a great deal to me, and hunting is a constant learning experience.

My bow needs are pretty simple: I want a bow that is easy to draw, has a smooth draw curve, is plenty fast, and is accurate without recoil or vibration. Hunters want and demand these things, and my field testing is rigorous in all kinds of weather.

My hunting is a deeply personal, heart-felt thing, that makes me feel good. Being outdoors, whether it is checking new deer hunting areas or keeping tabs on old and familiar hunting spots or putting up a new stand, is very rewarding.

Matching wits with a keen-nosed old buck is just about as much fun as a person can have while wearing camouflage clothing. There are certain checks and balances that come into play when hunting, and the pendulum swings in both directions.

There are always highs and lows during a deer season. The lows come if a hunter gets busted by a buck or an old doe, or when the wind hovers for a week at a time from an easterly direction. Hunters rejoice when the wind swings, and blows out of the southwest, west or northwest.

We take great pleasure from small things. A well-placed shot, the sighting of a buck we’ve never seen before, having a first-time hunter remember his lessons and shoot a nice deer.

We revel in the eager anticipation when we see a good buck moving slowly down a trail in our direction, and we feel frustration when that buck turns, for no apparent reason, and moves off on a different tangent.

Hunting is certainly much more than killing, and if we were to kill a deer every time we hunted, it would soon become boring. We set our expectations at a reasonable level, and if our buck exceeds those expectations, we are happier than ever.

We live for the camaraderie of the hunt, the friendships made, and the need we have to share our love of the sport with a kindred spirit. We know we can place high expectations on ourself but must temper our expectations of others.

It’s important for us to strive for the perfect shot every time, and coach other hunters to do the same. We must seek ways to make our hunts as sporting as possible, and to enjoy the bounty of nature that we have.

Such thoughts are bumping around inside my head as another hunting season wound down more than a month ago. We know that three-fourths of the year will pass before we start to hunt again, and in many respects, that is a good thing.

It makes us appreciate what we have, and to work hard to maintain it for this and future generations.

Posted by Dave Richey on 02/05 at 02:57 PM
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