For anyone who knows me and my crazy, semi-neurotic love of hunting, when Shannon and I received our late September departure date for Ukraine, I had a wee personal faith crisis. You see, the opening day of archery deer season in Illinois was October 1st and having to leave right at deer season’s beginning was kind of like being a collegiate basketball player and not getting to play in the finals because you broke your ankle in the semis. Bad analogy aside, God has given me a good lesson in sacrifice. One of my good friends was wise enough to remind me that everything worth doing in life comes at a price, and he’s right, very right.
…but, right now is another very important time for hunters. November in Illinois is rut! Now is the glorious peak of the bow hunting season, that fleeting period of time when all those sneaky trophy bucks become wildly testosterone driven and the gun hunters aren’t allowed out yet. It is now when a bow hunter has the best chance of taking a trophy deer and I again am feeling my absence from the woods. So, to cope I am going to dedicate this post to the hunting year. If this seems weird and maybe even slightly inappropriate for a missionary’s blog, it probably is. Let me preface the rest of this post by saying this truly is one of “David’s Detours” and if you don’t like hunting or don’t give a care, you are excused from continuing to read….
I am a deer hunter. My brother Danny is a deer hunter. Our love of hunting is an interest of more than just a couple of weekends a year with modern weaponry. No! We yield bows and shoot arrows. We dress up like foliage and pretend we’re trees. We wake up before the sun rises and go to bed long after it has set. We are committed to hunting because we love it. We love to hunt.
Here is an abridged, incomplete account of how a year in light of the hunting calendar goes for us. Beginning in February, just after deer season ends, Danny and I clean up our gear and put it away. “That was a good season and I’m glad it’s over” we tell ourselves. “I’ve got some other important stuff to do that I wasn’t getting around too.” And it’s true. We usually do have stuff that probably needs to be done. However, in reality our “other stuff that’s important” mantra is dangerously close to a social front. Without exception, by about the end of that same February, Danny and I are already awaiting the dawn of the coming October when again we pull out our gear, brandish our weapons, and enter into the corn fields of our dreams.
The past few years I have been in school through late winter to spring and when I get bored in classes I always ascend into the daydreams of archery seasons past. My reminiscing is both glorious and nightmarish as it rehashes all the triumphs of deer taken and the unspeakable tragedies of failure, especially those elusive large trophy bucks that are not hanging on my wall. This last year I have been haunted by the memory of the post-blizzard night when I climbed up a tree only to realize that I forgot my release (a critical instrument of bow operation). Sure enough, as one could only expect, that same night the biggest buck I have ever had a chance to shoot showed up. He was a majestic animal, more the size of a buffalo than a deer, and he promenaded straight to my tree where he then hesitated for a few moments to slow dance with his castle rack of horns. It makes me quiver even to think about that night.
When spring comes and I am again freed to the outdoors I get a wonderful relief from fishing which I also love and it is good. For a while I forget about hunting and enjoy another worthy pursuit as I catch bass, trout, walleye or whatever other fish I can get on the end of my line. However, the moment we get that first cool morning, that first tinge of cool, crisp air, I again remember the woods, and I know its time to prepare…
Our hunting grounds are in Vermillion County in Illinois and we have occupied them for a couple of years now. Danny and I have tried and tested tree-stands set up all over the property and about every September-August we go out and clear the brush, consider and reconsider our tree-stand placement and scout for deer. Once all that preparatory field work is done we attend to our bows: we check our draw-strings, we adjust our sights, and we shoot targets at various distances until we are shooting straight and accurate. It feels really good when you are dead on an apple sized target at 35 yards. Come October 1st all the preparation rituals are complete and with butterflies puttering around our tummies we quietly sneak into the woods for our first morning date of the year.
Well, that’s a hunting year minus the actual hunting part. I already feel better having written all that and maybe I’ll save the rest of the hunting year for later. All you kinsmen hunters out there send me your pictures so I may covet your deer. Happy rut!