It’s happened again. I’ve received another annual ‘love letter’ from a virulent member of the anti-hunting community who has taken me to task for promoting a “sickening blood sport.”
I guess she’s right. I’ll admit it, I have stepped over the line, just as Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin did when he took a six point buck on the opening day of Vermont’s annual deer season.
Reportedly, the governor’s buck weighed in at 186 pounds. I wish I could say the same, however my buck remains on the hoof and the season is nearly over.
Humans can’t remove themselves from the natural way of things. By genetic design, we are to be predators, and try though we may, we simply can’t deny it.
Did you ever wonder why little kids will try to throw a rock at a bird. They can’t explain why they do it or try to stop it. It just happens, I believe, because it’s part of our nature.
I suppose I could always take up another sport, like basketball, or football, but it would probably be difficult to gather together enough 55-year-old athletes to play a game.
Funny thing though, I know a lot of 50, 60 and 70-year-old hunters who continue to enjoy their sport. I can even name a few that continue to enjoy the hunt well into their 90’s.
The challenge that hunting provides to humans is one of the finest ways to express our instinctual nature.
There simply aren’t a lot of other active sports that provide such a wonderful opportunity for longevity. Hunting is a great source of exercise. It not only burns calories, it helps to keep you fit.
Depending on the method, the weather and the amount of time spent afield, you can literally burn off thousands of calories in a day’s hunt. I’ll drop 15 to 20 pounds during the average hunting season. Even sitting on watch, you burn calories shivering.
Hunting is a life sport which is accomplished with the death of an animal. However, it doesn’t always work that way. Most hunters spend far more time hunting, than they do harvesting.
On average, I spend nearly a month’s time walking the woods during the hunting season. In 30 plus years of hunting, I’d guess I’ve spent less than 30 seconds of total shooting time combined.
It’s been estimated an adult white-tailed deer consumes approximately 5-7 lb of food per day. It would seem that it would require a lot of munching, but the deer never seem to stay still for very long.
In fact, the average whitetail hunter has less than seven seconds total time from the first sight of a deer to the culmination of the hunting experience, which is about the time it takes a reader to finish the following paragraph.
Within that seven second time frame, he must identify the deer has a set of antlers, target the vital zone and make sure there aren’t any other hunters in the background.
This process is often achieved in a driving rain, or while battling a wind borne snow delivered in temperatures that reach to 20 below. It’s all part of our game, and there aren’t any referees to call time out.
But we wouldn’t want it any other way. No two hunting days are ever the same, because conditions constantly change, and whitetails react to those changes in different ways.
Hunters, especially those traveling the woods and fields of the Champlain basin should take extra cautions to protect from ticks this season. I’ve already received more calls, letters and emails on this topic this year than at any other point in my career.
Tuck pant legs into your socks or cinch them with a rubber band or wear high top rubber boots.
Avoid sitting on the bare ground whenever possible, especially in grassy areas. Look for a log to sit on, or use a strap on seat that attaches to a tree.
Take the time to shake out your hunting clothes when you return home, and be sure to inspect for ticks. Don’t take it lightly, Lyme disease is no joke, and it can easily be contracted around here.
Don’t answer that phone
The law has been on the books for years, and many hunters are aware that two-way radios can’t be used to give the location of a game animal for the purpose of taking such animal.
However, the law also prohibits the use of any other “electronic communication device,” which includes that ‘damn cell phone’ which has likely spooked more than a few deer this year.
And for those nimble-fingered hunters, who believe a text is not the same as a call, you’d be wrong.
Tipping over a deer, which you only realized due to the tip in your ear is not considered a “fair chase’’ harvest.
I know some will disagree with such a statement, but many years later as you recount that hunt, there will always be a lingering ‘what if’ when you stare at that big rack on the wall.
Fling that sling, and other common mistakes
It happened many ears ago, but I remember it like it occurred yesterday. I was walking out of the woods with my deer rifle slung over my shoulder. I hadn’t really given up on the hunt, I was simply too lazy to carry the gun in my hands.
As I made my way through a thick patch of small pines, I jumped a real “racker.” It was only a few feet away, but by the time my gun was unslung it was gone, disappeared into the thick cover.
That is when I learned to always carry my gun. I believe slings have probably saved more deer than all of the out of whack sights and scopes combined.
When hunting deer, be on the hunt all the time. Too often hunters are unprepared to take a shot as they enter or exit the woods, which is often the best time of day.
Don’t be in a hurry to get to your vehicle or back to camp, take it slow and continue to hunt hard If you stay with the hunt and concentrate, it will dramatically improve your odds of getting a shot; rather than watching a white flag bounce off into the distant forest.
Game harvest reporting period extended
Hunters now have 7 days to report their harvest of deer, bear or turkey. Successful hunters of deer, bear, and turkey are required to report their harvest through the DEC’s online reporting system or by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778). The information you can provide will only make the hunting better
In the past, hunters were required to report within 48 hours of their harvest. As a measure to increase flexibility for hunters to comply with the reporting requirement, particularly for hunters who hunt in remote areas that lack cell phone coverage or internet access or both, DEC has extended the reporting deadline to within 7 days of taking the animal.
“The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any weather, is the most independent fellow on earth. “
Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.