The first year I lived in Pennsylvania, I was in a bit of culture shock when it came to hunting. Particularly deer hunting. First day of buck season is always the Monday following Thanksgiving. (TODAY) My first year here I was shocked to learn that some men actually take a week off of work to hunt, and schedule it before they schedule a family vacation. Some quit shaving and showering on Thanksgiving. They hang the hunting clothes outside so they “dont smell like humans”. Right. uh huh. And you think that stinkin’ body INSIDE the hunting clothes doesnt smell like human? Smells like a dirty human is all. You think the deer are THAT stupid?? (I am so glad Steve doesn’t go along with this tradition)
That first year I got up, showered, dressed….. all ready to go to work. Opened the drapes in the living room and was shocked to see a man with a rifle walking toward our house. What the heck?? I lived on 10 acres. What is he doing on MY property?? Hunting of course! Our land wasnt posted.
I grew up as a “city slicker”. (At least that is what all my friends tell me.) This country life was all new to me when I moved here. Oh, I had traveled through countryside. Enjoyed going hunting in the Sierras with my first husband, even. But this bit with grown men walking on MY land with loaded guns….. well, that was downright scary.
After most of 20 years in PA now, I think I am pretty used to the routine. Most men….. altho not all…… and some women… are preparing to hunt in the morning. That means they have their licenses and tags purchased and appropriately displayed and ready. Their hunting orange clothes are ready to put on. Guns are sited, loaded and at the ready. Deer stand is built (and in some cases there is a heater, if it is all built in with a window that slides open) or a plan for where you will go is all figured out. Of course this all is more fun if you do this in groups. Oh, and many go to “hunting camp, or lodge” for the week so they can drink beer all week and tell each other hunting
lies stories. Once the deer is shot and tagged and dragged out of the woods, then it gets loaded into the back of the pickup truck with the tailgate off and head hanging so everyone can see the rack….. and those big brown eyes… and the drool mixed with blood. Eventually, the deer gets taken home, hung to age (either outside from a tree, or in a garage, or at a meat packing house…partially dependent on weather) and butchered, wrapped and thrown in a freezer.
Last year well over 361,000 deer were shot during PA’s hunting seasons. That is what was reported. Which means lots more were shot. LOTS more. (and as a side note, over 3,000 black bears were killed during bear season)
Bobby (my late husband) used to hunt with several of his friends. He would come home in the afternoon to tell me all the stories. The last year of his life, he finally told me what he really did. The others would all hunt, walking in the woods and freezing their asses off. He was the designated driver. Yep. He would try to keep the deer on the right side of the road so they would still be where the guys were going to hunt. I doubt that was a very successful tactic for the hunters. I think Bobby just wanted to stay in the truck where it was warm!
Steve has hunted about half the time that he could have since I have lived with him. Part of the time the business has been so busy that he wouldnt take time off to hunt. Sometimes he just hasnt felt like it. And other times he hunts. He gets up early, goes traipsing through the woods. Our woods. Only our woods. Sometimes he runs off the neighbors, as they like to hunt on our 25 acres in addition to their own 100 acres. Their land is posted, ours isnt. The law is, you need permission to hunt on someone else’s land, posted or not. They dont ask, so he wont let them. If they asked, he would.
I wont eat venison. I don’t like it. And I dont believe in killing an animal you arent going to eat. Not just for sport. (same is true for fishing. I love to fish, but normally keep only what I will eat) Steve has never shot anything since I have been here. If he gets a buck this year, it will go to his brother who feeds 9 people in his house every day.
So, what do women do on first day of deer season if they arent hunting deer? They hunt for bargains! All the stores open by 6am, most by 4 or 5. All the restaraunts are open at 2 or 3am to feed hunters and shoppers. Some churches do big breakfasts at those ungodly hours too. Most of my friends that shopped on Black Friday will be back out there on Deer Widow Monday sales too. Good luck gals! I wont be there!
I got up early this morning to go get my annual mammogram. It is about a 20 mile drive to the hospital. I was worried last nite about how many hunters I would see along the roads, or worse… to see their orange in the woods and not know which direction they were pointing those rifles! (Every year somebody shoots someone accidently, and somebody shoots themselves in the foot too!) So it makes me nervous to be out and about this day.
The weather is in my favor. Rain. Fog. The hunters like snow. Maybe they are too hung over to roll out of bed? I hope! But if I see a deer hanging off the back end of a pick up truck, I will try to get a photo for ya!
Wonder what I am reading? The Wild Girl by Jim Fergus. Recommended by a friend.