Michigan’s Firearms Deer Season officially ended November 30. This year 580,000 hunters each tried to bag their buck out of the 1.7 million deer that call Michigan home. Out of that number about 750,000 live here in southern Michigan.
Although I only hunt with a camera myself, hunting has been in the blood of my family and my husband’s family for as long as I can remember. There is always that opening day thrill on November 15. Who got the biggest buck? Who shot the one with the best rack? Hunters head out before dawn and then gather mid-day, often over steaming bowls of chili, to get warm and compare tales before heading out again mid-afternoon.
For many hunters, the days before the hunt and the anticipation almost- and I did say almost- rivals the hunt itself. There is setting up deer blinds and erecting hunting stands and camouflaging them. There are the Saturday morning trips to Gander Mountain or Cabelas to check out the latest in gear. There is mounting that new scope and getting the guns cleaned and in tip-top shape. Remember how counting down the days until Santa came was almost as exciting as Christmas Eve itself. It’s the same excitement for hunters.
Nothing is more thrilling than when a hunter gets his first deer. Our 12-year-old grandson got his first one this year with a crossbow, and our 9-year-old grandson got his first this year with a rifle. Nothing will ever top that for them.
Yes, the kill is the big thrill for every hunter, but there is another reason why more than 500,000 people traipse through the wet, cold woods every year. Where else can they go in this modern world and enjoy nature for what it is? There are no cell phones, no texting and no pressure to check up on the latest sports scores on the Internet. They can just exist and enjoy the peace and the solitude. There is no pressure to hurry.
I hear more and more comments like the one from my cousin Dick, who said, “I just enjoy going out and sitting. If I see something and get a shot, that’s just a plus.” I guess hunting season is the hunter’s excuse for being able to go out in the woods and sit. They would look pretty silly sitting out there for hours at a time without a purpose.
This year Dick went out with his 13-year old grandson. He never got a shot all season long. “I had more fun than I ever had!” he said.
That says it all.