Pat Maurer, Review Correspondent
Opening day of deer season, almost another major holiday here in the north country, is now just one short week away.
As we are now the “old folks,” we don’t get too excited over it anymore, but our kids – and even granddaughters Alea and Alison – are already getting ready for the big deer season. They are going hunting this year with Mom and Dad.
Boy does that ever bring back memories. Growing up in Crawford County, just northeast of Roscommon, our house always had plenty of company around the 15th of November. It was exciting. We were a hunting camp!
Sometimes Mom, bless her heart, would be cooking for up to 25 people. Hunters would camp in the yard, sleep on the floor or in the garage, in fact just about anywhere they could find a little space. It sure was exciting for a kid! Hunting season up there was like a costume carnival with “hunter’s red or orange” the color of choice.
Everyone I knew hunted in those days, and the trophies would hang in front of the garage as friends (and my brothers) posed for photos.
Card games were the main entertainment, ongoing every evening, and sometimes a campfire would be built out in the driveway. I would get to stay up late to watch the fire and listen to the hunters tell their “fish” stories. I was the only girl around and the youngest in the family too, so with two big brothers, we really were a hunting family.
Even Mom hunted occasionally, although I don’t ever remember her actually shooting anything. There was a story floating around back then about her telling a beautiful buck to “Shoo” one time. She just loved to be outside, and I think the time she spent in the woods was just a really special thing for her.
Dad, who was the best storyteller of the whole bunch, was also an avid hunter for many, many years. There weren’t any gun classes back then, but he taught me gun safety when I was pretty small with an old BB rifle that would barely shoot. It was passed down to me from my brothers.
Of course I didn’t really get to actually go deer hunting until I was in my teens, but I knew all of the rules long before that, even got to be a pretty good shot, and although like Mom, I’ve never really “shot” anything, those woods up home have always held a magical attraction for me.
I think that the chance to be completely alone with nature has a lot to do with the ritual of hunting season. It is a chance to be outdoors, in the woods, that draws people to the sport.
Once that feeling is experienced, it stays with you a lifetime. Some of the best times I can remember are of “hunting” with my dad, and although I no longer carry a gun, I still cannot go too long without a trip up home and a walk in the woods.
These days, we like watching the deer around here more than hunting them, and lately we have been able to do a lot of that. They all seem to know that our little spot on the Tobacco is a “safe zone,” and we see lots of activity in the yard and just loved watching the antics of twin fawns out there this summer. They are still around, although the spots are gone now and they are almost as big as Mama.
In fact we have a little herd of nine or ten around here quite regularly. They even have worn a trail through the front yard just west of the driveway and they hang around the bird feeders quite often – looking for a handout probably.
In fact last Saturday, we watched a four-point yearling buck amble across the yard between the living room and the river in the middle of the afternoon!