Pardon me while I vent for a bit about the stuff that really gets under my skin at deer camp
In the last 30-plus years of chasing deer all over North America, from Virginia to Texas to Canada, I've met and observed every type of hunter you could imagine, from he-men to average Joes to dweebs. I'm a mild-mannered guy and easy to get along with; I have a lot of patience and tend to give hunters the benefit of the doubt. But every once in a while, I need to vent on a few things that get under my skin.
If you happen to be one of the offenders I talk about here, I make no apologies, but encourage you to take a step back, think, and modify your behavior for the collective good of deer hunters everywhere.
Partying Too Hard
I enjoy a cold beer or a sip of whiskey after a long day of hunting as much as anyone, and I can assure you I'm not some old fuddy-duddy. But I do have a problem with guys who drink long and hard into the night in deer camp. I know you're on your fall vacation and doing some male bonding and all that, but man, be cool about it.
There are happy drunks, and then there are loud and obnoxious ones that can turn a good time into a nightmare around the fire pit. Overserved strangers can fuss and argue, and even good buddies can get into a pissing match or worse.
One time in a Canada camp I watched a soused little guy cold-cock a 230-pound muscle man that had moved in on a spot where the skinny fellow was trying to kill a buck.
One time in a Canada camp I watched a soused little guy cold-cock a 230-pound muscle man that had moved in on a spot where the skinny fellow was trying to kill a buck. It was not a pretty sight, and it ruined a good time for all of us in camp for the rest of the week.
You can't hunt well or safely if you're hung over. That goes for either gun or bow, and you sure shouldn't be climbing a tree after a night of hard partying. Stay out of the woods until you have sobered up 100 percent.
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Why do some people throw paper cups, cake wrappers, water bottles, and other junk out their truck windows? Some parking areas I've seen on public land look like the local dump. If you can't respect the outdoors and especially the places you hunt any more than that, stay home and trash your own property.
Why do some hunters have to hop on their ATV two hours after sunrise and roar up and down logging roads or field edges, ruining it for the rest of us who are still out there grinding and trying to kill a buck? This happens on public land of course, but also on many private leases.
You can take it to the bank in many areas. Around 8 a.m. you'll hear the first bike fire up, and by 9 people are roaring all over the place, doing and accomplishing what, I have no idea.
Oh, I do have an idea — spooking deer and making it harder for the rest of us to tag out.
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There ought to be a rule: No quad riding from sunup till sundown, except for emergencies or short jaunts to get a dead deer back to the truck. Otherwise, walk, it'll do you good and you might shoot a deer on the hike to or from your stand.
Side note to joyriders: Show some patience and stay on stand until 11 a.m. each day. You'll see more deer, and have a decent shot at whacking a buck sneaking around in the midmorning hours.
If you're a hopeless whiner: it's too cold or too hot or too many people hunting here or ain't no big bucks round here or whatever, you won't hunt with me. I need hunting buddies with a good, positive attitude. I can assure you that your constant carping gets on your buddies' nerves too, even if they don't say it.
To all the whiners I say, toughen up and get a better attitude. You'll have a lot more fun in the woods, and you'll hunt better for it.
Acting Like You've Never Been There
Last fall I guided a young man named Jimmy who made a fine shot a nice buck. As the deer wobbled and pitched over dead, he looked at me and started hollering, He's down, he's down…!
Yes, I can see that.
As we walked up to the deer, Jimmy strutted round and round, pumping his fist and screaming, Yeah, yeah, hell yeah! Like he was performing an NFL endzone dance. I thought he might spike his rifle any minute.
Okay, now that is enough.
Jimmy is a good kid, 20 something, but he had watched too many hunting videos. He was emulating celebrities he'd seen shoot a buck and then jump up and down and laugh and shout like they just scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Celebrity or average Joe, strutting and hollering over a dead animal is not a good look for any hunter, and it does not portray what we do in a positive way.
When you shoot the life out of a deer, show respect. You are excited and pumped and happy, and you should be. But no need to throw a celebration.
Rather, walk to your buck and look him over. What a magnificent animal! Kneel and smooth his still warm coat; wrap your hands around those wonderful antlers.
If you feel a tinge of sadness, maybe even feel a tear well up, that is okay. That is how hunting is supposed to feel.