Monday, February 3, 2014

The last Deer Hunt Blog (for a while anyway)

You will have to forgive me for getting off track last blog post.  Let’s get serious and talk about WHY deer hunting has such appeal, at least to about 11 million US hunters.

Deer hunting presents a terrific challenge.  The whitetail deer is one of the most cautious and well-equipped animals in the Americas.  A mature whitetail has:

  • A terrific sense of smell that is their first line of defense,
  • A 310 degree field of view for their vision,
  • Huge ears that can rotate to pinpoint the slightest sound,
  • A cautiousness that makes getting close to one for very long, a great challenge.

I mentioned two blogs back that the quiet solitude is terrific.  That quiet solitude not only gives time to meditate, but also time to read.  I read more during deer season than any other time of the year, except the beach, which is probably a close second.

I love the tastes of deer woods.  Early in the season there are muscadines galore where we hunt.  Muscadines have a special meaning for me, because my Dad introduced them to me, and I think of him when I taste that sweetness.  From beginning to end, sugar berries, also called “bush huckleberries” by some folks, are another time honored tradition from my youth, and recalls long walks along the river with my Pop and brothers.

Next to the taste are the sights and smells of the woods.  The fall leaves contribute both.  The leaves of the tulip poplars, the hickories, the various oaks, and one of my favorites, the beeches decorate the forest first, then the forest floor.  The woods has its own smell, which varies from time to time and place to place.

The weather presents its own challenge.  Really cold, like 21 F calls for real insulation.  A few years ago I figured out somehow that I could pack in an old, light, cheap sleeping bag and stay warm under every cold we have here.  If it is under 32 F, I’m probably packing my bag.

There’s more I could tell you, but you probably can’t handle it now.  Suffice it to say, that there is a lot of pleasure to be had in hunting. 

Will there would be deer hunting in heaven?  Sure, someone has to furnish the venison.


  1. Okay, I'm game (ha) for diving into the discussion; I have a pointed question about hunting. You are my favorite person to have pointed discussions with, Phil, so here it goes.

    Do you enjoy killing? By that I mean making something alive dead.

    I can imagine the joys of solitude, the wilderness, the challenge, the meat, the social aspect and several other areas that you've explained so well. But at the end of the day, it seems like a necessary tragedy--like putting an animal down for a good reason.

    The reason I ask is because in the hunting revelry, the pain of killing seems to get lost (at least for me as an outsider). There might be a ritual homage to a dead, majestic being, but I only get to hear the joy of the slaughter.

    In full disclosure, my question is severely biased by my own experience. I went deer hunting once and the guy I was with actually killed an 8-point. He left me with it in the field while he went for a four wheeler. I watched it die, then sat with the carcass. Needless to say, that venison left a bad taste in my mouth.

    So do you enjoy the killing?

  2. Well, to give a simple answer-- NO and Yes. I have plenty of opportunities to kill and in those cases I don't do it, I am happy to watch them, and do nothing more.
    On the other hand, it is a tremendous challenge to kill a good deer. All animals should be killed humanely. G^d has gifted us with these animals to admire, hunt, kill and eat.
    You would be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys, admires, and studies deer more than I do. But that includes venison...