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........and more specificly, why do I deer hunt?



After reading a lot on here lately, I had to slide my computer chair back, clasp my hands behind my head, and lean way back into the chair to the point where I was staring up at the ceiling. I took in a huge breath, held it in for a few seconds, then let it out slowly.........and started to think.

Many talk and discuss about a multitude of things. Turkeys, pheasants, ducks, geese, coyotes, guns, bows, hunting dogs and a variety of other subjects get mentioned in great detail..........but the biggest topic by a landslide is always about deer. Big bucks, little bucks, button bucks, does, deer hunting strategies, and certainly the number of deer seems to dominate the hunting forums. I'm not going to get into the deer numbers game in this post. I'll just say that I think we have areas with lots, areas with few, and lots of areas that probably fall somewhere in between and just leave it at that.

A common theme seems to be how the "new" deer program and regulations have ruined the traditions of the earlier years and how difficult it will be to keep the youngsters interested in hunting.....especially deer hunting. A question always puzzles me when I read topics dealing with this, and that's....... How in the world did they make hunters out of youngsters in the old old days, when even seeing a deer track was a big deal back in the early 20th century. Somehow the youth still became hunters.....even deer hunters.

Why do I hunt?

It started to make me think of why I long for the old days myself sometimes.........

I wish I could go back in time(the late 70s/early 80s) when we had a camp in the Kinzua area of McKean county. My dad, my brothers, and friends from back home all up for deer season. The laughs, the stories, the teasing of the young guys, the card playing of the older guys, and the electrifying feeling the night before the opener. What a wonderful time it was. But it's all gone now........and it wasn't because of the deer situation.
Some of the old guys got even older. Many that came were one day hunters(or even half day) and it was the only day they hunted all year. They just stopped coming up for whatever reason. My brothers scattered to parts all over. One south of Pittsburgh, one in Wyoming, and one in New Hampshire. The camp was sold shortly after all of us "boys" went off to college. This was all prior to 1990. We would have 20 or so hunters at camp, but we rarely took more than 1 buck. I never remember some of those "one day" guys ever shooting a buck. It was usually one of my brothers or even myself shooting a buck and that was it(we were the only serious hunters and dad was always with one of us).....and it was never more than 2 for the whole camp. This was during the mid-70s to late 80s......the so called "glory days" of deer hunting. It didn't matter, they all had a good time........but time has a terrible habit of never staying in the present.

I have my own family now and I take my two oldest hunting(but separately since one's 10 and the others 12). Some days we see deer. Many days we don't see any. I never say things like,"when I use to hunt we'd see 50 deer in one day." I don't do the negative stuff. They hunt and still enjoy it because I try to make it enjoyable. I also try to stay positive. They've had success but mostly by being out as much as possible(you wouldn't believe how many days my son and I were out two years ago in archery and then in rifle season before he shot his 1st buck-which was the last day of rifle). They've never said "that was a terrible hunt" because we didn't see anything. I enjoy being with them and I hope they enjoy being with me. We talk about lots of stuff. Some woods stuff, some hunting stuff, and sometimes just stuff that doesn't have anything to do with hunting. Sometimes we just sit and watch and don't say anything at all. We just watch the woods. Partly because we're hunting, and partly because we're just thinking to ourselves, even though we're right next to each other.

My tradition use to be still hunting the ridges of the ANF. Then I got married, and my tradition changed. I left my gun behind on the 1st day of rifle for the 1st time since I was 12, and hunted with my wife on the 1st day....with a lot more "sit and hunt" hunting than I was use to. That tradition also changed when my kids became ready to hunt. I use to bow hunt almost everyday. Last year, it was about 3 times(the only times I was by myself without one of my kids). I still haven't picked that rifle up for the 1st day of rifle season for the last 14 years.........and I don't regret it for a second.

Why do I hunt?

We are all looking to be successful when we hunt. Myself included. But if being successful is only measured by the kill, then we've lost a big part of what makes hunting about the hunt.

The spirit of the hunt and the tradition of hunting are still there. The way, the where, and the how we hunted, when we were younger, many times change......unfortunately. My brothers and I didn't stay at that magical age when I was in grade school and they were in high school. We all got older and time moved on. With the pressure of a job, bills, and raising a family.....being 13 again wouldn't be such a bad thing, and it has nothing to to with the way deer hunting use to be(I'm much more successful now that I was back then). It has everything to do with being close to my dad, my brothers, and my best childhood friends again......that I just took for granted at the time. I'm still close with my brothers, but it's never as close as when we all lived under the same roof. That's the hunting tradition I miss the most, and I'd give back all the bucks I've taken since then if I could just hit rewind and live that time over and over again.

Yes, it's unfortunate that traditions change and time moves on. But life is to short to be negative or to try and live in the past(no matter how bad we'd love to do it) and sometimes chasing and killing that monster buck isn't really the most important thing in our life after all.

Why do I hunt?

I hunt for the memories that I've made in the past, the memories I made this year, and the memories yet to come with my children and maybe someday.......my grandchildren.



P.S.- and if you read this whole thing, you have the patience to be a master deer hunter!
 

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huntman said:
Why do I hunt?

I hunt for the memories that I've made in the past, the memories I made this year, and the memories yet to come with my children and maybe someday.......my grandchildren.



P.S.- and if you read this whole thing, you have the patience to be a master deer hunter!
Well spoken...making memories past - present and future.

This really hit home, thanks for this post !!
 

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I hunt for venison. Taste great and it's less filling.
 

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Great Post Huntman!! You must have stared at the ceiling for a while. LOL.
 

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All of us came to hunting in different ways. I had some "hunting camp" experiences, but because of moving around when younger, many of my hunts were "lone" hunts, out of necessity.

As I aged, hunts and fishing became reasons to stay in better shape. Long gone were the last basketball and baseball games in California.

We get little windows, and soon most things change.
I remember going back to the town of my youth. Except for some relatives, most people were brand new. Little is left today. The businesses are gone, a school is gone, a hospital where I was born is gone and there's some new public land for hunting in the area. Places and time have life cycles, and little can be done to change it.
 

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Good job!

I wish everyone could be as reflective and as openly honest about his or her reasons for still being a hunter.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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Great post, thank-you for sharing your thoughts. I think if we all are honest that pretty much says it all for the reasons we are out in woods.
 

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Because it's hard. It's easy to go to Giant Iggle, Shop-N-Save, or Wal-Mart, buy a steak, grill it, and eat it.

What fun is that?

When I started out, I couldn't even see a deer, let alone kill one. Then I got a little more skill and experience and killed a little buck.

(Aside - that's why I believe in the current system with a permanent CID number, I think antler restrictions should not be on age, but on whether or not you ever got one. Once you get one, then AR kicks in regardless of age. Until you've "paid the dues" and are a senior, then just have at it).

Then I collected a little pile of small racks, and wanted to up the ante. Now I let the smaller, but legal, bucks pass and rarely take a doe. Why? I don't really know for sure. I do love deer jerky. I'm sure that as I continue on this journey, the pendulum will go back in that other direction.

I don't hunt to survive. I'm fortunate to have gainful employment. I hunt to try to touch some kind of unseen but real force of the natural world. Once I got into archery, I might as well have gotten addicted to crack or heroin or nicotine, I just....can't.....give it up.

It's sometimes the most tiring, frustrating, expensive thing that on rare occasions makes me want to smack my head off of the tree I am sitting it. But most of the time it's one of the most awesome, exhilarating, intense things I can do in my spare time.

Of course my wife and daughters are way more important. I'm talking just in the context of what I do for entertainment and fun, in the "me time". I would choose 100% of the time to go watch my daughters' play their sports. Or go with the wife for a walk with our Labs (pets, non-hunters, I'm just a deer/turkey dude). If forced to choose, I would throw away all the hunting gear in a heartbeat. I have not lost THAT kind of perspective.

But for the my-me-mine time, give me a tree stand, crisp morning with crunchy leaves in early November, clad in camo, bow in hand. Then a good buck shows, maybe 50 yards out, looking around in my direction and something unknown that interests him.

That's the moment that time stands still, and all the problems of the world disappear. At that moment, my whole universe consists of about 1/8th acre of the planet.

It's then all about me against me. Not me against the PGC, not me against Obama, Al Qadea, taxes, my cholesterol, email, iPhone, Facebook, CNN, gas prices, incoming asteroids, or my little belly roll. The deer is not an "opponent". It's me against me.

It's one of those times when I'm the most alive.

My daughters know my one wish. When that day comes when I finally get to walk with Jesus, my earthly body will be put into it's final resting place not in some suit and tie, but in camo.

Can't explain it. You either get it, or do not.
 

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I hunt because evolution hasn't totally removed the instintct to hunt from me.
 

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I hunt because I can...I walk out the back door and I'm in the bush. Solitude. It's a beautiful thing.

Taking down the particular game animal, bringing it home.....butchering right on the kitchen table....That's where it's at.

The only thing better is cooking it on the wood fire in my front yard. Let the neighbors smell that .....I know they're smackin' their lips.

I hunt because I can't not hunt. It just wouldn't be right.
 

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Yes, very well said. I had moved away to start a career and I had put aside hunting for about six years. When I got back to PA after being gone, all my traditions had changed. But then I met new people who liked to hunt and started making new memories and traditions. Now I live for our bears drives and I don't care if I get one. I love to push in hopes someone will get their first. I found an old fraternity brother that lives 4 hours away and e go out west almost every year. We always say that the best part of the trip is the drive out and back. Now my six year old daughter is begging to hunt with me. We might go out today to try to call in a coyote ( if mom will let her). To me, it is being out to disconnect from the rat race and spend time with friends if I am so luck to do so.
 

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I hunt because I love the thrill of it. I love the meat and only shoot what I plan on eating. I have been hunting for 28 years and enjoyed every minute of it.
 
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