It is that time of year here in the Northeast when men and boys (and some of the ladies) pile into SUV’s and pick-ups and head up into the woods in search of that trophy buck or doe for the freezer. I’ll admit to being one of them, and I guess with my over active imagination and love of tradition I get giddy every year.
For me the excitement begins with the yearly trek down to the shooting range to get my trusty “thuddy-thuddy” (.30-30 Lever Action) rifle sited in. My cousin and I usually do this early on a Sunday morning. Waiting in line to get in with our coffee and rolls has become as much of a tradition as deer hunting itself. An hour or two spent at the range, with the noise and the smell of gun powder, is a guilty pleasure of mine. This is usually the first time since my rifle got put away in the winter that I get to lay eyes on it. Just getting it out of the safe brings back a flood of memories. Every scratch and nick on it is a testament to time spent in the woods in pursuit of game.
I love getting into the cabin and getting the wood stove lit to drive the chill out of the air. The first cup of hot coffee as we unload the truck is always welcome. The banter between men who are comfortable with each other is awesome. The rules are usually pretty loose too, a friend of my Dad’s put it well when I was a young hunter, “fart, belch, curse, walk around in your underwear.” It is nice to have a little over the top testosterone for a few days. Up at the cabin is where I first had a few to many beers with my Dad around. I was greeted in the morning by my father straddling me on the bed and jumping up and down yelling, “Get up Junior! Did you drink to much last night!” It is one of those memories that will stay with me forever! His blue boxers are seared into my brain!
The bacon and eggs, lasagnas, back straps out of freshly killed deer, and grilled cheese sandwiches made with mayo are as much a part of being “up deer hunting” as the actual hunting. Sitting around the table and re-telling the stories of past hunts or talking about the days events, the conversation is always memorable. The “young guys” cleaning up and doing the dishes while the older guys get to go and claim their spots on the couch reminds me of a pack of wolves and their pecking order.
Now I’m four paragraphs in and I haven’t even mentioned the hunt yet? As much as I love the hunt and being in the woods I’m a sucker for the traditions. Getting together with Fathers and sons, Uncles, cousins, and old friends is what truly keeps me going back into those northern woods and mountains. Remembering those who have gone before us makes me wish my own young son was old enough to dress in hunter orange and take into the woods. But I won’t wish that hard for as much as I want him to join us I’m not ready to start taking my place on the couch with the graybeards (even though my own hunting beard has a touch more gray in then I like these days).
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