Opening day for firearm white-tailed deer changes very little from year to year. Whatever date it happens to fall on, many hunters have blocked off time around the opener from now to eternity. Anyone lucky enough to be involved in the tradition with a core group of friends and family will tell you it is an irreplaceable weekend. In their minds, it might as well be an official holiday.
But what is it that makes this weekend so special? There is no promise of a harvest, there is no grand adventure to a new area, and there is nearly never a record-breaking trophy to bring home. The company is the same as last year and so is the food. It’s the same trip, isn’t it? Yes, it is, and it always will be. Below the repetition is a tradition that perfectly illustrates the allure of hunting.
More Than the Harvest
Hunting is not only about taking an animal, but it is also about reconnecting to yourself and your roots. When you’re back at deer camp you feel that connection instantly. There is a connection through generations bound in hunting stories that probably aren’t factual, but they are important. They illustrate that the hunt is about enjoying the pursuit and sharing with friends. The night before the hunt is for planning. Who gets what stand, when is legal shooting time, and who’s coming in early to get lunch started?
Once you’ve split up around dawn, deer camp turns from a group activity to a deeply personal and simple experience. Time in the woods is perfect for reflecting on where you have been since last year’s season and reconnecting with nature. A day filled with monotony is interrupted by heart-pounding excitement every time a shadow flashes or leaves crumple.
No matter how many hours the season can offer it always feels that just as you really reconnect with the woods your time is up and seasons close. Luckily, the preparation for next year is simple. Be there, and don’t forget the stories.