Well the annual big event in rural Maine — Opening Day of Gun Deer Hunting Season happens this weekend. In many areas it is a huge deal, with Hunters Breakfasts, family gatherings, gettin upta huntin camp and all the other hoopla.
I get it, I used to get all excited about it too and was big into archery and gun hunting. I loved going out into the woods with Dad growing up, even when it was -10*F and walking on stumps (that my feet had become in my old gumrubbers) back to the old station wagon. The memories of hunting seasons past, keep it alive in my mind.
Pretty much, to the rest of my family hunting is still a big deal and every so often I get the hankering to get ready again to join in and go hunting again, but then it fades.
What happened to me?
Let’s be real, I was never a great hunter, I was more of a hunting gear head. I loved the gear side. You know all the toys, bells and whistles that hunters get to be “better” hunters. Besides, I couldn’t sit still if you tied me up and put chains on me, so sitting and waiting for a deer to come in, didn’t happen too often. I have shot one deer in all the years I hunted and that was with a bow. I was always better at finding deer that other people shot, I could read the ground fairly well.
So I was not the great hunter by any stretch of the imagination. It meant more to me to be able to spend time with the family and be with them.
After I moved down to Sidney in 2000, work and stuff got in the way of getting up north to go hunting and it stopped being a priority. Even though I live in a rural area and a lot of the neighbors hunt, I just never really found the time to go get my license, get some ammo, sight in my gun, put up a tree stand and all the other stuff.
Hunting stopped being a priority and if I am honest with myself, I just do not enjoy killing something, if I do not have to. I know if I had to kill a critter to eat that I could without any issues, but the need is not there in my life.
Now, hunting season is something that I just deal with. Instead of opening day invoking the joy and thrill of the hunt, it is something I sort of dread. It means a change to our routines, with the influx of people hunting down-back, we have to deal with them while Bennie and I are running or walking down there. Some are great about it, others well let’s just say they are rather ignorant and leave it at that.
It also means that we have to be mindful of our what we wear. No whites, grays or browns, wearing orange is a must if going down-back and I prefer to wear a contrasting hi-vis yellow too, to let them know I am not another hunter.
Then when the shooting starts, Bennie becomes a shaky baby and doesn’t do well while shooting is going on. He’s always been that way, so when he is outside after the first gun shots, he is spooked the whole time and unless he is running, he will attempt get back in the house and just shake.
So while many love opening day, this former hunter just deals with it, smiles when he sees others who are enjoying being out in the woods and waves to them as we go by, but is glad when things get back to normal around the neighborhood after Thanksgiving Weekend.
Will I ever go hunting again?
I don’t know, I still get the urge every so often and would have to go through a hunter safety course, clean up the old rifle, buy ammo, get things sighted in, buy a license, then spend time out in the woods, scouting, sitting and actually hunting to kill. It all seems like a lot of work to me.
I will not say never, but for now I will let others head into the woods and hunt. Me, I’ll keep running down-back with Bennie, deal with the increased traffic down there and put up with some of the comments that hunters, who don’t live in the neighborhood, are bound to make about how I am interrupting or interfering with their hunting, by running or walking with my dog down-back.
You know something that I do pretty much every day, year-round.
Even so, I will defend and support other’s rights to hunt, I believe that everyone should have the skills to survive if they have to and hunting is one of those skills that is timeless.
Like the song says – “A Country Boy Will Survive”.