Hunting, A Tradition.
Ever since I was very small I loved hunting, I loved animals. I was taught “kill only what you will eat, and take care of what you have (being the land and the animals on it.)” On my last hunting trip, while sitting in my stand (finally) I recalled all of my likes and dislikes of hunting through the years. First, waking up early… then loading everything up, remembering my check list, licenses, orange vest, clip of bullets, gun, enough layers, flash light, oh you know, the many essentials of hunting, then lugging it all out trying to beat daylight, which rarely happened. Now your at your tree where you will set your stand up, your hot and burning up, you set it up then realize you still gotta climb up, when you finally make it up your now hot and sweating, you get settled, your alert, attentive and excited, then you start to get cold cause of the sweat and now your not moving anymore your calm, you notice in your vision everything tries to melt together, till… you dose off, you wake up refreshed, alert once more, you play this game till your partner (most of the time was my Daddy) comes and tells you to get down, you climb down carefully and secretly happy cause you have been arguing with your stomach for the last hour, and your butt was going to sleep. You hear his cheerful reassuring voice “that’s ok baby girl, we will get one this evening, I can feel it” you get to the truck and as he climbs in he lights a cigarette and repeats it.
You get back to camp and hear stories of the morning hunt, or past hunts or perhaps you are helping skin one someone else killed or are sad and feel you are to little so you stay out of the way quietly and help if asked. Daddy and Uncle Bill lay down for a nap, you and your cousin Seth get bored and A. Have a pine cone war B. Go shoot homemade bows and arrows at aunt mounds then scurry to get it back before its completely covered. Or C. Go sit in the woods and watch for deer… until you get bored again, D. Ride the four-wheeler out to the fields looking for deer, normally in vain L. Or…. Last resort you give up and take a nap also.
Now it’s the evening hunt, you wish everyone good luck and head for your stand, you climb up and get settled, its hot you want to take a layer off, but you would have to remove your orange, plus if you got cold (probably around “deer thirty“) you would just have to put it on again. Also every time you reach to remove it cause you cant take it anymore you hear a crackle in the woods you freeze afraid to move, your heart pounds. After battling these circumstances you give up taking that layer off. Then get settled once more, the mosquitoes begin their evening attack, you hear crackles all over, to your right, your left, in front of you, and most heart racking, behind you. Finally the mosquitoes go away. You begin to look around at the trees, the birds and squirrels, running, jumping, tweeting, and squeaking, you feel the softest breeze and you feel yourself at complete piece and happiness. Its starting to get dark, you realize, while looking at the sun go down, feeling its last gorgeous rays of warmth sink behind your little hardwoods pocket, then on behind the miles upon miles of pines, you realize it doesn’t matter if you kill anything, it would be great to see one, but if you don’t, its ok this is just enough. You suddenly see something flicker all the squirrels and birds have went to bed for the evening. Your heart jumps. It moves again just ever so slightly, your heart crawls into your chest and pounds so heard it feels like its gonna jump right out of your mouth but you cant help but pray for another movement. Finally, it steps out into view, you silently check off your checklist as you study the creature, no spots, a nice size, a doe, a beautiful doe. Now all you need is a clear shot, you slowly, holding your breath, move your gun up and focus on it when she turns broad side and gives you the best shot possible, you gently squeeze the trigger a loud BOOM!!!!!!! And she falls straight to the ground, no kicking no struggling, you take a deep breath and your heart still beats fast. You are thankful for such an opportunity, and it all falls well. As dark comes on, Daddy comes and looks up to see your glowing face peak over the edge. Eagerly you tell him where she lays as your climbing down. You walk over to see her laying there Daddy gives you a hug and rubs your head messing up your already untidy hair, that probably has a limb or leaf or sadly maybe even pine sap in it but what do you care? He says “good job, lets get her out of here.” You try to drag when Daddy gets tired and in your mind your doing a really good job, really throughing your back into it, well he is surprised you can even move it as little as you are. He only laughs and gets up and takes over again you feel you have really done something when, it was only a few feet but who cares its better than nothing right? When you get it in the back of the truck, you and Daddy climb in the truck, he lights a cigarette and jokes saying “see there Baby Girl I told you, you would get one this evening, your Daddy’s smart” you both laugh. You tell him the story of the hunt 50 times just on the way back to camp, your heart still thumping.
Now your back at camp and your cousin tells you good job and pats you on the back or shoulder, you happily babble on and on about the hunt. After a cup of coffee you all go help skin it, then cut it up to soak in a cooler of salt water. You tell the story over and over, and they all just laugh telling you good job, it was a nice size or she sure was a pretty one. They would also stick one of their stories in. You go to bed that night knowing its gonna be similar tomorrow but you might not see one, and that’s ok. You are beyond happy that it was a clean kill, and know you would rather miss it than hit it and it suffer, but oh so happy you got it. Even though when it ran off you soon lost patients trying to find it, especially in the dark. I believe that looking for an animal you have just shot and wounded that has run off, I believe looking for it constantly is a way of saving your salvation cause if you just said oh well, and it didn’t cut into your heart, you have lost your salvation possibly and very likely along with that animals life.
As I sat there watching the sun leave my little pocket of hardwoods, then the pines surrounding us (Daddy was off down the holler, and Brother had went somewhere else down the road) I was remembering my past hunts, I remembered how much it means to me, to be out there with my uncle, my cousin and my Daddy and whoever else like now, we have Brother, and Wayne, and Jonathan and Chris. I love it so much, the talks we all have, the food the stories and jokes.
Its funny cause I’m the only girl, that’s how it has always been but I don’t mind I’m glad it was that way, I once made a promise to Seth that I would never turn girly, I cant really keep that as in I am definitely gonna date GUYS, but I promise makeup will only be really important occasions, as I don’t have very much of the stuff, it’s a pain to put on and take off, and I cant put it on properly anyway, plus its just not the everyday me, I wont wear that expensive tight girly clothes very often cause they tend to be very uncomfortable, and I’m all about comfort so stick me in a large salvation army T-shirt an I’m good. J And I can promise that unless I cant even crawl, I will continue to go hunting. I love it, and all its teachings, I am so thankful that I was involved in such a tradition like this one. These, our feelings and beliefs sparked my interest to write “The Hunters Sanity.” Daddy, Seth, Uncle Bill, Dave, Thank you for taking me hunting. And now I am so glad to share it with my Brother, Wayne, his two boys Jonathan and Chris. And its cool to spend my lunches talking to my friend Valerie and her brother Taylor about hunting as well.
One last thing, to anyone who reads this, take your kids hunting, just a few times if they like it they like it if they don’t they don’t, but give them the opportunity I had. Its better than them being on the streets getting in trouble. You know? Teach them how to care for the animals, it makes it so rewarding when you get one. Teach them to think about the ones they take, as in is it big enough? Are all the spots gone? Most people go for the big bucks, but each buck breads several does, so why take the big beautiful bucks, when you can get the cull horns and knock them out so they don’t bread and pass on those bad genes. Before you know it you will have a bunch of great big bucks.
And also if you don’t agree with hunters, maybe you should quit driving cars kill more deer that we do, and I guarantee less than 5% of people pick up the deer they kill with cars and skin them out. Also, if the population gets over crowded it can cause disease and kill them in large numbers, and it could be painfully, they could knock other species out of balance by eating all the food. There are lots of mishaps that could happen. I believe in caring for the animals we kill, and not taking everyone we see, but when we do take one we try our hardest to find it if it runs off, and we take it and clean it and use what we can. If you wont do this or at least give it to someone who will then you have no business out there.
Nickie Burgess J