The Best Day of the Year

There is simply nothing better than the first day of whitetail gun season.

I know some people will argue with that. Waterfowlers will claim the first day of snow goose season, archery fanatics can’t sleep the last week of September, and many upland hunters are as restless as their dogs leading up to opening day. But for a kid who grew up in a family where almost every male member rifle hunts for whitetail deer; opening day was the epitome of anticipation and adventure. Thanksgiving dinner was for discussing plans and strategy; while Christmas dinner was for embellishing stories and showing off this year’s trophy.

That leads to another thing about gun season that I love so much. For many years our rifle hunting has been done in the Big Northern Pennsylvania woods; where the mountains are steep, the hunters are sparse, and the deer are very, very smart. Not all the tags were notched each year; but every hunter got the opportunity to match wits with the craftiest animals around and gain experience for their next encounter in the woods. In the Tradition of the hardwoods, trophies are not always measured by length of horn and weight of bone. The opportunities to put a fresh meal on the table, share a frigid night with buddies in camp, and experience something new every day; form the basis for those tall tales we will recite to our grandchildren some day.

The past two years I have had the opportunity hunt whitetail in my current state of Michigan. Thankfully, each year my dad has been able to make the trip as well. It is not always a long hunting trip, but a few days in the woods with Dad always makes the season more enjoyable. The Heritage and knowledge he has passed on to his sons is something Ethan and I value greatly, and we always learn something new when sneaking through the woods with him. So far we have not been able to find Dad a Michigan buck; but as with most North Country hunting, persistence pays off in the end.

This coming weekend will be my last shot at a gun season buck this year and the weatherman is calling for a drastic change in conditions. Opening weekend was mid-50’s and sunny; while this weekend is going to be mid-20’s with half a foot of fresh snow. Add in a little bit of wind for cover noise, and that sounds like a still-hunter’s paradise.

Just so happens, that’s the Tradition I was raised on.

 

 

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