Jackboot Tapdance

Pete Tschantz' blog

Deer Season Eve

Posted by jackboottapdance on September 14, 2009

Tomorrow is opening day of deer season where I hunt. Today and tonight are when I remember what Christmas eve felt like as a child. The feelings of anticipation and excitement are palpable.

I know that many people don’t understand the allure of hunting, and feel it to be barbaric in these modern and ‘civilized’ times. That’s okay, I didn’t really understand it until about 4 years ago, when I decided to try deer hunting for the first time. Until that point, I had lived my life without hunting. I had fished, and hiked, but I had never taken to the woods in pursuit of food.

There is something primal about hunting for food. Yes, I can go to the grocery store and buy food. Yes that food can be tasty, and is nourishing physically. But there is something intrinsically different about hunting for food. Regardless of success or failure, hunting is nourishing in and of itself. Being in the woods at sunrise, senses heightened in hope of seeing or hearing a deer, is a magical experience. In our modern, connected and online world, it can be hard to understand just how wondrous a sunrise or sunset can be. No modern, technological wonder can come close to replicating that feeling you get when you hear steps in the leaves, and try to determine where and what it is.

Contrary to common belief, I am not a blood thirsty maniac, hell bent on killing something. In fact, there is always a certain sense of sadness after killing. Jose Ortega y Gasset captured it perfectly in his ‘Meditations on Hunting’:

“One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted…If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.”

Back to Deer Season eve. I don’t get really excited about Christmas morning any more, at least in the commercial sense. I have no problem sleeping in on Christmas morning, and I have no problem getting to sleep Christmas eve. But, I’ll be bouncing out of bed at 4am tomorrow, and I’ll be lucky if I get to sleep before midnight. Preparation and organization of gear are complete, plans are laid, and expectations are high (as always). All that remains is the passage of time. At first light tomorrow morning, my favorite part of the year will be here, and it will remain so until the season ends. Regardless of the outcome, it will be another wonderful deer season, and I will miss it when it is gone.

At least, until next Deer Season eve.

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