The long dark season has finally ended.
No, I’m not referring to winter, nor the holidays – I find them cheery though I understand many of you do not – nor am I talking about the explosion of extra work.
It is the deer hunting season that has ended. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
I hear your cheers – wives, daughters, sisters, friends. You are doing the happy dance too. And not because we want to deprive hunters of their favorite sport. To be honest, I enjoy having occasional quiet evenings when I can write, or read or have a glass of wine without the television on and noises blaring around the house.
But I also like to walk in the woods which isn’t possible from September til early January. I like to feed my cat without being shot at. His lot – most of you know the story of why my cat is in the dog lot – borders the woods. About three weeks ago a group of teens gathered at another’s home where he was alone with his dad’s guns. Beer may or may not have been involved. Shooting commenced. Deer began running through the woods behind my house and as I was caught with the cat, its food and bottle of water, I was afraid to move. Teenage boys’ voices yelling, “the deer went that way” prefaced another barrage of gunfire as the deer were running toward me and the shots were following the deer. I yelled expletives bookended with the words ‘people in the forest’ and ‘stop firing’ as my husband leapt out of the house and onto the four wheeler – riding into the gunfire. Our son was hunting a few miles off and had our truck. So I ran for his and took the road around to the home below the forest where we found the party of young boys blissfully unaware that their actions could have been seriously troubling and dangerous. The grandparents got involved with apologies and the removal of firearms. We left, happy to still be alive.
That should be reason enough. But wait, there’s more.
An elk was killed less than a mile from our Virginia property. Several more have been spotted. It was a beautiful 5 x 5 racked mature elk. The fever has hit Bland with every hunter and wannabe hunter salivating for the trophy game. Our fence has been broken and we found a receipt on our property from an ATM at a BB&T n Virginia. One day when I was at the cabin alone, a green SUV drove up to our fence, and sat facing our property for several hours. I grabbed the binoculars and saw the rifle perched in his vehicle as he ‘hunted’ our property. I chose not to confront him since he was armed. I simply decided to call the game warden if he shot across our property. Luckily, nothing came out. But I took pictures from the kitchen window. I know who it was. And the little meadow where he parked was bushogged and trees trimmed to make his parking spot less hard on his vehicle. We also tracked footprints from the gate halfway across our property when snow dotted the fields. This will have to be addressed.
And even beyond trespassing, leaving gates open, and endangering lives, is the mess of it all.
For months I’ve had weapons of the season – bows, muzzle loaders, rifles – littered about the house. Normally they are locked up and not in sight of anyone or anything. Not so during the season. Concerns of humidity, temperature, accidental bumping require the offending firearms to be draped over beds – where doors can be shut and locked in the event of company with small children, but we really don’t have much of that. And enormous green scent protective bags have squatted in the center of rooms with their precious contents of apparel in varying degrees of camouflage, warmth and cover.
Blaze orange hats have been tossed about the sun room or even on the kitchen counters, desk, dining room table. Used hand warmers discarded on tables. Boxes of ammunition and quivers full of arrows gracing the spots between the foliage of my delicate house plants. And little vials of things like ‘doe urine’, ‘fox piss’, ‘buck-n-rut’ disgrace the window sill. Do not – I repeat – do not open such vials. The smell is horrific or at least I think so. I don’t like the spray they use on their clothing much better. They think it smells like dirt. I say, if it smells like dirt, then it’s the dirt in the bottom of a sewage tank.
Outside it isn’t much better. Muddy boots perched on the steps could cause you to trip if you forget to look and just dash out of the house. Even in the garage, my car has stopped my fall as knocked over boots were left laying beneath my line of vision at the bottom of the step.
The chair in front of the fireplace has been the recipient of wet caps and coats left to dry or warm up. Don’t think about sitting there.
Alarm clocks have been blasting away – even on Saturday – disturbing the opportunity for a long nights’ sleep since September. It seems you have to get into the woods and set up at dawn or they’ll see you coming. But don’t they come out at night and early morning? Aren’t they just as likely to see you at 5:30 as they are at 9:30? Just curious about that one.
And there’s the endless barrage of phone calls from people we only hear from during hunting season. What did you see? What have you gotten? Do you know someone who scored something big? Send me a picture! (That translates to have your wife send the picture.) Do you know where I can get some hunting land? Can I hunt your land? Can I bring a few friends when I come to hunt your land?
Will you give me keys to your locked gates? (No joke – have had this requested of us on numerous occasions – even by SUV guy who is already ‘sneak’ hunting our property.) There’s a reason people lock a gate. They don’t want people scaring off the wildlife.
And here’s a tip, if someone is kind enough to give you permission to bring your child over to hunt their land – in the guise of having a real father/son moment – don’t show up with your dad, uncle, brother and six of your closest friends. And don’t further ask if you can use their guns and their ammunition – especially if the firearms are for the extra people who were never given permission to hunt in the first place.
And while I’m ranting, think about how you’re going to remove the game from the forest BEFORE you pull the trigger. Don’t call others during their dinner, saying your back hurts and you need them to come out and do the dirty work for you. You should make arrangements to trade off with other hunters and someone should always know that you are hunting and where you are hunting.
Furthermore, if you aren’t going to eat it – don’t kill it! At least have some respect for the animal whose life has been sacrificed.
Just one more thing – it isn’t once a year. That used to be what I heard all of the time from hunters, “But it only comes once a year!”
No, your birthday comes once a year. Santa Claus comes once a year. Hunting season lasts for months, and if you count the scouting, food plots, tracking, stand moving, shooting lane trim outs, etc.; we can parlay this into a year round event.
Of course, turkey season is only a couple of months away, so I need to enjoy the debris-less house while I can.
Rant over – season over – at least for now! Excuse me, I need a nice long walk in the woods.
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Renee, this is priceless. LMAO. My husband always talked about what a great hunter he was (and I expect he probably was), but he never went hunting once in our 26 years together. He did fish, and sometimes I went with him to read by a sunny stream. I loved to eat the trout he caught, but if I watched them die, I’d cry my eyes out, so I finally sent him off alone. Fishing is certainly not as disruptive to the household as hunting. You have my condolences.
I love that about your husband – a hunter who refrained. Perhaps fishing is better on the west coast and hunting on the east coast.
Wow…I’m glad it’s over too. You know how fearful you were when the bullets were flying, I can only assume animals live with that fear every day of hunting season. Enjoy your walks in the forest! A beautiful reprieve.
They were right in the thick of it with me – the reason I wouldn’t move. It’s that kind of craziness that makes people think twice about the sport of hunting. I will have to say, my husband and son are both very careful and responsible hunters and they would never just open fire into a herd of deer. But accidents happen every year and I’m glad it’s over too Annie.
I’m trying to figure out how these replies get time-stamped. It’s 8 hours ahead of my local time, so must be GMT.
Yeah, it can’t be 6:03 pm as you’re behind us in time. Wow.
And it’s showing my comment on the same time as yours. Too strange.
All I have to say is: I’m glad my hubby isn’t a hunter. I feel for ya, girlfriend. That trespassing business and those teen-agers with their reckless behavior is downright scary!
Motor Man gets two thumbs up for his hobby – taking care of you! I like that much better than hunting.
I’m afraid I just wouldn’t be able to live with that fear hanging over my head every hunting season, I just don’t know how you do it.
A beautiful photo of the woods.
Thank You very much for the visit and comments on my blog.
Welcome Mags. I guess we grow up with it so it isn’t a new thing. Which is probably good or we might wander into trouble. But I will have to say, nothing angers responsible hunters more than this type of behavior. One or two can give them all a bad reputaton.
Hey, nice to meet a fellow Postal peddler. Thanks for commenting on my blog.
Yeepers, I thought the west was peppered with stupid and arrogant hunters, but I don’t think it’s near as bad as what you describe in Virginia. The 5 point buck…did they just leave it where it fell? Didn’t even harvest the rack? Maybe you scared them off.
I hate to suggest this because I’ll get tarred and feathered, but perhaps your fish & game needs to consider introducing wolves….The hunters in Idaho are loudly braying about the lack of game since the reintroduced wolf population is up. I kinda’ smile at this. I’d a lot rather tangle with a wolf in the woods than an armed adolescent.
Enjoy a few weeks of peace and quiet.
Hello. Thanks for stopping by. When were out west this past summer we heard a lot of crazy hunting stories, and we met many fantastic people. But the wildlife was just spectacular. Although we didn’t see the wolves, we could hear them. There was a team of reasearchers with the radar guns that had found the pack of wolves near the Lamar Valley and although we stayed for a while, the wolves only called out. It was pretty neat though.
It is amazing how hunting season can affect everyone. Thank you for expressing the flip side of the hunting season…amen!
Thank you for the ‘amen’!
Holy Cow! Speechless.
Are you not in an area where much hunting happens? Sometimes they refer to us as ‘hunting season widows’. but from the looks of things, the girls are taking it up now too. Go figure!
I have never lived anyplace where hunting is allowed, however, deer hang out on the hill in front of our cottage in Sausalito. We recently moved here from the mountains – no hunting there either. I think as a worrywart, I would become phobic about going outdoors.
I can’t believe you would associate yourself with anyone who willing went out to shoot poor, innocent Bambi!!!!
Lol…kidding! 😛 I suddenly imagined some web-surfing-PETA-member stumbling across your blog and just had to make a joke about it, but it was probably one of those jokes where it was only funny to me and now I just look stupid.
Oh well, great read though 😀
I love a joke and can add to it. My husband threatened anyone who brought a copy of the movie ‘Bambi’ into the house. So a friend taped it over another video cover. Didn’t work though. He turned out to be a hunter too. What can you do??
Hahaha that is such a good idea and freaking hilarious!!
I’m glad you enjoy jokes as well…I’m always a little nervous people wont understand mine––especially if I’m commenting on a new blog that I’m following 😛 it can be awkward, but glad you got it 😀
Nate, your jokes are fine. I like your humor. As for Bambi, I just ordered the DVD and it arrived today! Go Bambi!
As an animal lover, and a person who has only eaten stuff that has first been cut cleaned and wrapped by someone out of my direct line of vision, I could give you a knee-jerk, liberal reaction to this. But I will refrain.
Hunting scares me because of the folks that get hurt. Years ago in Maine, a woman who was at home in her home watching her twins when she saw that there were hunters out back. So she grabbed her jacket and her mittens and headed out to tell them they were encroaching. Sadly, she put on her WHITE mittens which one of the hunters mistook for the tail of a white-tailed deer and HE SHOT HER IN HER OWN BACK YARD.
So be careful. Just be careful. And perhaps suggesting bingo to the boys would be a good idea.
I remember that story well. So sad.
Oh Elyse, that’s terrible about the lady getting shot in her own yard, but as I said…thought it was going to happen to me. You know, people do so many crazy things without even thinking. It’s always worse when you’re in your own yard or house and it happens. About a week ago a speeding vehicle hit a house and killed a baby in its bed in its own house. I guess we’re just not safe anywhere, so got out and have a good time, but stay out of the back yard!!
Thank God you and your family are okay. It scares me to no end how careless and stupid some people are with guns. Bless your hearts.
As for the paraphernalia and accessories and such in and around your home, I remember those days and boy do I feel for you. 😉
You know, you might want to consider writing a handbook for hunters so they’re reminded that generosity should be respected and not taken advantage of.
Goodness, there’s so much in this post. It’s a peach of a serious and fun narrative. You’ve covered all the bases. I hope you enjoy your peaceful walk, you deserve it.
From your lips to God’s ears!
This post will certainly resonate with deer season widows. My husband used to go hunting for years at Fort Hood where it’s very much controlled. That made me breathe a bit easier. For over ten years or so, he has not gone hunting but he and my daughters while driving love to spot deer between daylight and nightfall. When he drives to the country, he always carries his camera just in case.
Most hunters are like your husband I think. I’ve known mine to carry food into the mountains when a deep snow in Feb or March would have made their chances of finding any impossible. We found one caught in a fence once and he cut the fence away from it, risking danger to himself, then fixed the fence back. Great herds of them were destroying our crops in VA and slaughter tags were offerred and encouraged. He refused them. He’s watched the black bear with me at the cabin in VA to the point that I don’t think he could ever even think of killing one. The clubs he belongs to have strict rules, meant to protect the animals and the hunters. And they’ve taken hunter safety classes. But in spite of your best efforts, there are those who don’t and they give the rest a bad reputation. I’m with you, the only shooting of an animal I want to do, is with my camera!
Growing up with hunting and hunters, I cringed at the stories of irresponsibility — the teenaged hunters shooting out/around you – yikes! People tramping across your land, calling at odd hours, breaking fences. Grrr…..
I’m with you – the hunters I know are careful and conservative but what you’ve described – no wonder you’re glad for the break from the chaos around you.
My favorite? “No, your birthday comes once a year. Santa Claus comes once a year. Hunting season lasts for months..”
I knew you’d understand MJ. Right now, I’m just doing the happy dance.
I have friends that go through this every year, it’s like they put their lives on “pause” for a few months so the dark season can run its course. LOL As a kid, I didn’t experience the hunt first hand but had to deal with the “bounty” cleaning venison and storing it in the freezer (bleh), I still get the heebie geebies. Great post.
But at least you know how to do it if you had to. I think that’s becoming a lost art. Tell your friends I empathize.
Lady, hallelujah indeed! I lived in North Dakota for a year and at the time, the hunting experience was new for me. Never before had I lived in a place where you couldn’t walk in the woods during a specific time of the year and where grown men wore neon orange colored vests. I understand that deer meat was consumed m some families, but never having been a fan of a killing animals for sport, I was beside myself. The next door neighbor, whose husband was a butcher, would come over to my sister’s house and also complain of muddy boots and clothing. Your post took me back to those times! Thank goodness is over for you! 🙂
Thanks for the validation. I guess those who live inside of the city haven’t really experienced such trauma. Oh the joys of simple country living!
Thank you Renee for giving us all a brief description on hunting and it’s side effect. In my country hunting is illegal. And in my personal opinion, hunting need to be banned. We humans have no rights to take some one else’s life, what if it’s a animal. If we can’t love them, then it’s better to leave them on their own conditions, rather than killing them.
You are a really brave person, this post signifies that.
I couldn’t kill an animal either, unless I felt threatened or it was suffering from some injury, but we’ve learned from the mistakes of over hunting in other countries. Many game preserves, aviaries, wet lands, are paid for through the duck stamps and fees hunters and fishermen pay each year to hunt and fish. So, in a way, they are giving back as well as taking. When a species becomes endangered here, we ban the hunting of that animal as well. The reintroduction of the wolf has its numbers up so well that they are probably going to be removed from that list. So please don’t let my personal annoyance with all things ‘hunting’ leave you with a bad impression of the majority of hunters and fishermen in America.
My husband would never hunt, but my brothers do and his sister does too (she even takes her daughter hunting with her pink bow, no lie) So I hear you. We live on a backwoodsy country road and I sometimes hear shots being fired in the woods. I will usually make the kids go inside as I am just too paranoid.
Hopefully it has ended for you too and a trek through the forest can be enjoyed by all! My son’s girlfriend hunts, so I hear you. And the lady who invented the camo line for girls, is making a fortune. My husband keeps saying he can’t believe we didn’t think of that.
Sounds absolutely terrifying! And enraging! I would have been so angry about the man sitting on my property waiting for an elk. No, you can’t kill an animal on my land. And I am SO with you regarding ‘eat what you kill’ and ‘respect the life you took.’ Glad the season is over and the beautiful woods are once again tranquil.
Like minds for sure! Thanks for commenting.
I’m so glad we are not hunters. I don’t have anything against hunting as long as (like you said above) it’s for eating and not just trophy. That is where I get furious. It’s wasteful. I’m happy its over for your sake too. I’d go insane. No kidding.
Now you know why I’m so crazy! LOL!
Renee, this is a fascinating post, providing great insight into a whole other way of life that I have never been privy to. For, I have never lived in an area where hunting was allowed. I spent 8 years living in the Northwest and got to enjoy the beauty of the mountains, rain forests and lakes all year round. It would have been sad if any of it had been closed off due to hunting season.
I had some family living in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. They used to complain when deer came and ate all the vegetables they were growing, so I can understand how it can be difficult if there are too many living in one area, but it would be hard for me to live in a place where hunting is allowed, especially, since you describe how easily it is to get caught in the crossfire.
The Northwest sounds peaceful and lovely. Wouldn’t want that ruined for you either!
What a stunning picture of the woods. I’ve never lived with a hunter, although my daughter does (her husband), so I’m very glad not to have endured the pesky little things you have with your loved ones. However, I have lived in the country and my new place qualifies as such–as does my current home, although it’s not as remote as the property I’ll be moving to. I truly hate the sound of guns. My dog is even more undone than I am–immediately cowering and heading for indoors, or inside my truck, as the case may be, when he hears gunfire, even if it’s a good ways away. I have no objection to anyone’s hunting–if they’re out to get some meat, but the sound of a rifle cracking or popping nearby is most unnerving. Glad you’re able to once more enjoy your walks in the woods!
No one is supposed to be hunting in the woods around our house – not even our guys. They understand the possibility of stray bullets and the need for sanctuary for the wild. That being said…leave teenagers alone long enough, and they’ll find something to do that you probably won’t like.
This was a good insight to the ‘other’ side of the deer hunting season. My sisters live in northern Michigan, and bright orange is the color of the season for EVERYONE, even the dogs! It’s too bad that there isn’t a required test for common sense before people can get their hunting license.
Good advice indeed.
Glad I was wandering through your blog – it would have been a shame to miss this one. Hilarious. Only those who have been there can really appreciate it? Tears running down my face just thinking about it – the orange hats and clothing colors required during hunting season – the annoyance of not being able to wander the woods at will as a child ( but perfectly understanding why) Great post