Bidding Farewell to Deer Season
We have arrived at the month of February. For most deer hunters across America, this month means that our beloved deer hunting seasons are officially over. Many hunters across the US have already seen their seasons close in the early goings of January.
It’s a bitter-sweet time of the year for a deer hunter, especially for bowhunters who may have been chasing whitetails since early September. On one hand you are excited for the change of scenery that a new year will certainly bring.
Shed hunting season through the late winter and early spring. Land management and food plot work throughout the spring and summer. And of course trail camera surveys and scouting through the summer and into the fall. If you truly live for deer season and have the means of tending to some property, you can spread deer season across the 365-day calendar. A new off-season is just another chapter in the book.
With that being said, even the most hardcore, 365-day deer manager has to look at the end of deer season with a bit of sadness and regret. It’s the end of a journey that pulls so many emotions out of the passionate deer hunter. The more you put into chasing whitetails all fall and winter, the more depressing this point in the year can be. Even if you’ve had success.
For many of us the journey started nearly a year ago. Shed hunting in February and March. Getting fired up knowing that your target buck is still kicking in your neck of the woods. Hatching plans on what it would take for you to put an arrow in that big deer come fall.
Putting in the sweat equity of hanging stands, making spots for blinds, planting food plots, and simply maintaining your favorite spot throughout the year. All of that coming to a head in the late summer as you begin to get trail camera pictures or views from your binoculars of big, velvet bucks.
We put our eyes on those velvet racks in July and August, stand by with high anticipation as we approach September, and we prepare for the journey ahead as September gives way to October. There’s nothing that gets the juices of a whitetail hunter going like the onset of the fall season. Anticipation is through the roof.
All of this builds into what is likely a three or four month grind for the hardcore bowhunter. Some have been going much longer than a few months. Hunting becomes your lifestyle for those months. Everything is done with an eye towards that next hunt.
When is that next cold front coming in? When will I be able to make it to the woods again? Planning your work vacation or off-time around the rut. We’ve all been there and done that. Doing whatever it takes to give ourselves the best possible chance at harvesting some clean protein for our freezers.
Non-hunters may be laughing to themselves at all of the passion and emotion that a diehard deer hunter could display throughout the course of the season. We’re not ashamed of it. Not one bit. When you pour your hard work, money, and passion into something as intimate as deer hunting, emotions are to be expected.
Taking the life of any living creature is not a light and insensitive thing for a hunter. Contrary to popular belief, the hunter becomes closer and more respectful of the game animal that he or she pursues. The more time you spend afield, the more you become attached and in awe of the game you chase.
Deer hunting plays with your emotions like a yo-yo dancing on a string. Hunting is the ultimate sport of failure. Most trips to the field are going to be a failure if you’re measuring success on what you actually harvest. That one crack at a big buck that finally comes to fruition is about the craziest natural high a person can get. That crack may have been 10 years, 20 years, or even a lifetime in the making.
Harvesting any deer or any game animal really fires the adrenaline like nothing else.
So deer season is basically like a roller coaster ride with elation, frustration, and even downright sadness mixed in with absolutely no set order of how you’ll experience those emotions. It’s what really keeps us coming back year after year.
It’s all about the memories and the journey that hunting takes you on. An unpredictable journey with absolutely no guarantees or order to how you will experience the highs and lows. Us hunters take the leap of faith each season with lighter wallets, less family time, and an unknown journey ahead.
Hunting season comes with absolutely no guarantees. You will likely never recoup the money you spent in gas, equipment, and on licenses and tags. Not to mention the time spent afield that we will never get back. But yet we keep coming back. Coming back in search of that next great memory that will come along with us for the rest of our lives.
Each of us bids farewell to the 2017-18 deer season with a slightly different set of emotions, yet with the same sense of sadness to see it go. Some hunters may be reading this with a Boone & Crockett caliber buck already back from the taxidermist and hanging above the mantel. Others are reading without even an ounce of venison in their freezer.
Yet we can all share in the very real condition of the off-season blues. Life is just a little bit sweeter when it’s deer season. That we can all agree on.
So we bid farewell to our beloved deer season. We’ll be thinking of it, planning for it, and sweating in the summer heat in anticipation of it.
Remember, there’s only about seven months or even less until deer season arrives again. I know I’ve got my countdown clock set.