Reflections on Deer Hunting
I’ve heard that sensory stimulation can trigger memories, I believe it is true. The recent cold weather and seeing folks in orange really made for a rush of memories of deer hunting.

I am no great deer hunter. I don’t have the patience to sit in a stand and the meat doesn’t agree with my stomach unless it is mixed with pork. My first deer hunt ever was when I was about 12 and by Sunday I totally lost interest. I left the spot where I had been stationed and used my single-shot, shotgun to draw arrows in the snow so my family could find me. It wasn’t like I was hidden- I trudged back to the truck so I could run the heater and radio.

I do have some great memories about hunting. It was nice because there was a real sense of occasion. It was one of the few times a year when milking the cows wasn’t the only priority. The cows still needed to be milked but hunting took more of the spotlight.

Everyone would come home for deer hunting, even Dave made the trip from North Dakota. The week prior to hunting, my dad would assign us a rifle or shotgun with slugs. We’d spend the Friday night prior to opening week-end sharpening knives and talking, I always wondered why I got a knife because there was absolutely no way I was going to use it! I guess Dad just wanted to make me feel included in the process.

Mom made us all lunch. We could have easily just come home to eat during the hunt but it was a more efficient use of time to just stay in the field and eat. My mother’s lunches were so good and grossly plentiful. She really loved us all a lot and wanted to know that, even if we weren’t warm, we were at least full. Dad always had a thermos of coffee and I think I had hot chocolate. My mom’s sandwiches were so good, they made deer hunting almost worth it.

I saw some deer hunters last week-end at Petro Pumper. The groups are very small and I suspect there is rarely enough participants to make a drive through the woods anymore. We used to have many people in a group and then slowly walk through the woods in an effort to herd the deer to sharpshooters posted in a clearing. I think most people now suffer in heated, cable-ready deer stands and await their deer; good for them.

There used to be so many hunters when I was young. I could stand guard the first morning of hunting and recognize the vehicles driving around the section. At some point, I would be relieved from my post and we would meet at the vehicles. It was here that neighbors would usually meet and talk about what deer they had seen that morning and if their harvest had been successful. I liked when we’d meet on the road because I could shoot the breeze with my friends and eat Oreo cookies.

I hope you have a good hunt. I hope you enjoy the solace of the woods and the mystery of how another species lives in parallel to your own life. I hope you are safe, enjoy your family and I hope you have a good lunch.

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