Just like the high school athletes who have mandatory downtime or quiet time, I took a little time to recharge my batteries Monday. I shut the cell phone off, donned my hunting gear and took to my hunting blind for the opener of firearm deer season.
What a beautiful day. The temperatures had dropped just enough to make a deep dew or light frost, depending on what area you were hunting, but my tracks too and from the blind reminded me of those Family Circle comics where Billy is asked to put something in his room and you can see his footsteps out the back door, around the yard and then 12 places except where he was supposed to be.
My tracks went straight out the back door and into my blind at the edge of the harvested corn field. Yes, the corn is all down, leaving me a magnificient 360-degree of the property. I could see the hay field woods to my right, the corn fields in front of me, my property next door, the pond, the next corn field, the neighbor sitting in his blind and more.
Didn’t get any deer, myself, but my cousin and his son got a young buck just as I was literally sitting down in my blind. They had beaten me outside by about an hour, but had more of a walk to their blind. Saw a gorgeous buck at full run later in the day, but he was moving and too far away for a safe shot.
The sounds of silence—okay, so it wasn’t silent—but darned close made my ears ring. No phones, office din, ring tones or other daily annoyances. Just me, the birds fluttering in the pines nearby, the Sandhill cranes squawking at each other and the crooked vees of Canada geese flying overhead. Music to my ears, my friends. There was lots of rustling in the leaves from chipmunks and squirrels who were more than happy to chastise me for being in their personal space. A few crows and the echoing shots from neighboring properties were the only distractions as I sat and watched for deer.
The knot under my shoulder blade had disappeared, and the daily stress of the newsroom was darned near gone by the end of the day. I made several trips to the numerous buck poles and poked fun at my friends diligently trying to stick the tongues back into the mouths of the deer they were about to hang on the pole at Ray C’s.
We are sensitive to the fact that many oppose our hunting traditions. I just don’t think tucking those tongues back in make a world of difference as far as the photos that some object to. But, the number of freezers that will be re-filled does. Including the area soup kitchens and food banks.
Processors again partnering with the Sportsman Against Hunger and other such organizations are asking every hunter if they are willing to donate one pound or more of ground venison to those in need. Some are donating entire deer with he generous hunting regulations this year that allows up to five doe permits each day.
A vast number of the hunters were just happy to have a new supply of fresh venison for their consumption. In fact, many chili cook-offs at the various poles offered up many tasty versions of their venison chili. Hot coffee and chocolate, venison and jerky samples, and more treats were available for everyone.
The crowds continue to impress, especially around award time and can only help the long-suffering downtown businesses and pole sponsors who so generously gave up their day in the fields and woods to take part in the annual tradition. And, there were more stories of kids and adults playing hooky from work, truly odd tales that will just follow the mantra that what happens at deer camp, stays at deer camp, and others that were just plain heartwarming to last until next year. Several father-son tales that detailed how both sat with scopes trained on the same deer, only to have the youngsters come away with a successful harvest. And, let’s not forget the women and oldest hunters, some well into their seventies, out enjoying hunting and the camaraderie. Well done everyone, and time well spent indeed.