Before there were grocery stores and fast food restaurants, people hunted for food. Some still do. In fact, according to the results of the 2001 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service survey, there are estimated to be 10.9 million people who hunt big game.
Hunting seasons and limitations are occasionally regulated according to the current animal population number. This is, in part, to maintain a good balance between game, birds and smaller animals, and their available food.
Hunters do more than kill animals. They help the environment maintain the balance mentioned above. They also help wildlife conservation efforts with the license fees and taxes they pay. And, they aid law enforcement whenever possible by alerting them to suspicious activity they might happen to discover. For the past several years, many deer hunters across the country have donated their game to food banks and other groups as well. I do not agree with taking an animal's life simply for the 'sport of it'. But I do agree with hunting to provide food.
DEER HUNTERS ARE A STRANGE SPECIES INDEED!
You never have to wake a guy up during deer season - they never sleep! Can't blame them though, they've been planning since June about how they're going to get that sixty-four point buck this time out.
You've seen the excitement build as the season came closer. He's misplaced his car keys, forgotten to take out the trash, even forgotten to eat. But he knows exactly where his little orange cap is. He's thrown his everyday clothes all over the place. But his thermals and orange camouglage jacket are neatly folded in a corner, ready to go. He's even checked them a couple of times each day, and neatly refolded them to make sure they are ready.
A week before the hunting season opens, the average hunter will develop a continuously preoccupied twinkle in his eyes. Because of this, you can spot a guy with 'buck fever' anywhere. You can probably pick him out of a crowd of fifty thousand. He'll be the one with the apprehensive, anticipating glow. I've been told that a deer is color blind - obviously they're glow blind as well.
It's not always just the thrill of the hunt that gets the hunter out of bed and going over his supplies' checklist one more time before heading out into the great unknown. It's also what they can put on the supper table. Some of the hardiest appetites around belong to hunters. When I was growing up, our table was laid out with everything from squirrel pot-pie to breaded ground hog. Barbecued deer roast is as good as any cattle being herded anywhere. And, I've heard that muskrat is a delicacy in some top rated city restaurants. Of course muskrats are trapped rather than hunted. But hunter/trapper...they're basically the same breed.
A true deer hunter is more consistent and driven than the US Post Office. Neither rain, snow, wind, slush, mud, flu, or migraine will keep them from hitting the woods at daybreak and staying till near dark, or till they've gotten one - whichever comes first. If a deer is gotten the first day, the hunter can relax and live normally again. If not, there will be a few more obsession-filled days to get through.
The skill of hunting comes also with the privilege of talking about it. My dad once went hunting with a guy and swore he'd never step foot into the woods with him again. "Shot three times at a branch falling from a tree. Now you know a deer doesn't climb a tree and jump!"
And they all have their stories. Like the guy who - during early Spring - chose a wooded area, built a primitive stand, and planned to return in the Fall to hunt. A couple of days before deer season was to begin, he went back - gun and practice target in hand - only to find several condominiums where the woods had once stood. The tree with his stand remained however. It had become a treehouse in someone's back yard.
It is inevitable that talk of the upcoming hunt will somehow find it's way into every conversation the hunter utters for weeks. It has to...it's the only thing being thought about. I recall a few conversations with my hunter husband. Once I mentioned that I had gotten a lamp I'd been wanting for only twenty bucks. He began telling me about the two bucks that his friend, Hank, got two years in a row. "Close to 180 pounds...both of 'em," he informed me. Another time I wanted him to pick up some apples and oranges at the store. And he asked me if I thought he'd be wearing enough orange that year, or should he go buy something more. Then there was the time when I wanted a huge favor, but dreaded to ask hubby, so I addressed him with:
"Dear!" Of course, I should have known better, because immediately the twinkle in his eyes sparkled with even more shine and I knew it was no point in continuing a discussion until the word and the shine wore off.
So, if you have a hunter in your house who comes home near dark, on the last day, having been unsuccessful...get out some smelling saltz and revive him. But, of course he's been used to a week of sniffing deer urine on his lapel, so the saltz may not affect him at all at first. However, do keep trying. And remember to prepare him a hot bath and drip eye drops in each of his bloodshot eyes. Then, after he's 'out like a light' snoring, you may want to take a couple of whiffs of that smelling saltz yourself - when you realize that this whole thing will probably be repeating itself again in another twelve months or so.
Regenia G. Butcher is an author on a site for
Creative Writers http://www.Writing.Com). She is also a crafter and is currently working on a "quirky" word reference book. She usually not only sees the glass half full, but rejoices that there IS a glass. You can visit her portfolio at http://www.sensity.writing.com