The way out here

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 10/16/19

Saturday, October 5 marked the start of archery season in Pennsylvania. With it came the inevitable itch to get out in the woods on the weekend and even try to grab a day off from work in pursuit of …

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The way out here

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Saturday, October 5 marked the start of archery season in Pennsylvania. With it came the inevitable itch to get out in the woods on the weekend and even try to grab a day off from work in pursuit of delicious, lean meat. As it would happen, my wife and I used the last of our venison just last week. Well-timed or just lucky—either way, the message our freezer is sending is clear: it’s time to re-stock on deer meat.

As omens of the season, my wife and I also received our doe tags back in the mail that very Saturday. As if that wasn’t enough, my new arrows were delivered as well. Fully equipped and fully licensed, I donned the proverbial war paint and happily greeted the season.

As I got the mail, opened the new tags and began slinging arrows in the back yard, it was hard to ignore the young buck who skirted the bottom of our garden and made himself comfortable munching on apples in the back-brush lot. Clearly, his own recognition of what day it was failed to register. Although he was right to assume he was safe from me, the same cannot be said if my wife happens upon him in the same manner. With the fall weather being so comfortable, I’m not surprised to see these animals so relaxed. Not that I can judge; half the reason most folks like to archery hunt is so they can capitalize on the fair weather. Rifle hunters rarely get to put the same kind of hours in without investing in some kind of personal heater; it becomes much colder as the season shifts from archery to rifle.

Well, I chalked that deer up to nice weather and feeling at home in our yard. As I drove home from work this past week, I spotted several bucks and doe moving about with the crisp temperature change. One particularly nice-looking young buck caught my attention from the side of the road. As I pulled up alongside him, I was sure that he would spook and bolt. But even as I put the car in park right in the middle of the road and lowered the window to take his picture, he stood casually, almost leaning on one side as he chewed his cud, stopping every now and again only to lower his head to the ground and pick through the grass. I took the opportunity catch his good side and even turned to take a selfie just to emphasize his lack of interest in my presence.

With all these apathetic deer, it’s hard to feel the chase is on. Then again, I‘ve been lax in my duties as a predator to create that sense of urgency within them. Perhaps once I get in the tree, they will begin to sense the time of year again. If not, it’s not a bad thing. After all, the goal isn’t to rile up the deer. If the last moment of their life is spent peacefully eating and enjoying a sunny afternoon before simply ending, I’ve done my job as a responsible hunter. As a reward for this consideration to the deer, the meat is always more tender when the animal hasn’t been stressed. The way out here is an ethical hunt and a clean kill. I look forward to the season ahead and wish all of you hunters reading this a fruitful and safe hunting season. As for the deer, I’m none too worried. They always seem to figure things out eventually.

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