It might sound contradictory, as we send our kids back to the halls of learning this month and quietly celebrate a loosening of the constraints on our adult personal time, but this is one of the most critical seasons of the year for drafting our youngsters into the world of hunting and fishing. The springtime trout opener is, of course, a prime opportunity to introduce our sons and daughters to the world of the hook and bullet, but deer season is truly “The! Big! Deal!”
Those of you of a certain age – my age, for example, the 40-something crowd and older – will likely remember a time when participation in the hunting and fishing sports was just a way of life, for virtually everybody. It was in my little corner of Creation, anyway: gun racks in the back of every pickup truck in the school parking lot (try that now and see how quickly you get arrested), camouflage John Deere ballcaps on every other noggin at the local coffee shop.
As mentioned in previous Editor’s Notes, that tradition has faded as the number of active American hunters has severely dwindled.However, this is the month is where traditions are born, and little outdoorsmen and women are created.
Think back, quickly: your earliest, most powerful outdoor memory is ________?
Mine is of my dad and older brother cleaning the .243 and .30-06 prior to deer season, and of the two of them carefully sorting through knives, whetstones, saddles/bridles/pack bags, bone saws and such for the early October deer opener. I hadn’t even spent a night at deer camp yet, but the whole experience of it created a memory that sticks with me nearly 40 years later.
Your sons and daughters will remember things about a deer hunt that you don’t even notice. They’ll absorb the smell of the tent, and the sound of silence in the woods. They’ll goggle at how bright the stars are when you view them without the annoying filter of street lights. And if you’re lucky enough to bag a buck, they’ll never, ever forget the experience of cleaning, dragging, hanging and cutting.
Yes, of course they’ll remember their first trout, or their first salmon, but I guarantee you, when they’re in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, they’ll remember deer camp even more clearly.
With that in mind, try to make a serious effort to commit yourself to building those memories this month, fellow hunters. Share “The! Big! Deal!” generously throughout deer season. As your kids send their kids off to school someday, they’ll remember it all, and they’ll pay it forward similarly.
I’d love to hear your favorite memories of deer camp. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org