It’s been raining a lot lately. Last Thursday the high temperature didn’t reach the 70’s and sleeping with the windows open left the house chilly in the morning. My kids start school tomorrow. The Badgers won Friday night. The Packers kickoff in six days. The calendar tells me it’s September. Fall is creeping in. Where did summer go? Do I care? Summer is lovely, but autumn is magic.
I got an e-mail from Midwest Whitetail on Thursday telling me that the 2018 Season Preview episode is available. My wife and children are in bed, so I will be consuming that when I complete this blog post. Tyson and I are planning a trip to the land to hang trail cams. My iPhone “Countdown” app is always counting down to the same time: 8:00 AM on the Thursday morning before the Wisconsin Gun Deer Hunting opener. That’s when we load the trucks and head northwest for the best weekend of the year. The app is telling me there are 72 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes, and 4 seconds until then. It’s sinking in that another deer season is approaching.
As I was thinking about what I could do for the blog this year it occurred to me that I started deer hunting 30 years ago. November 1988. The mathematicians among you are thinking to yourselves, “This genius doesn’t realize that last year was his 30th season. This year is the 30th anniversary, but it’s actually his 31st season.” Wrong. In 1993, my senior year in high school, I made the regrettable decision to pass on deer hunting so I could perform with our high school pep band at a basketball game. I explained it to my family by saying that I could be docked a full letter grade and be barred from my beloved band trips if I missed a performance, a rule my buddy Hoot knew all too well. This was true…mostly. That rule applied to unexcused absences. I could’ve easily told Mr. Siegrist I’d be missing that Friday’s performance along with many other hunters. The truth was, I wanted to be at pep band so I could hang out with my girlfriend. Idiot.
To borrow from the great Ron Burgundy, I immediately regretted that decision. I still recall sitting in the PHS gym that Friday night thinking about my family at that dilapidated hunting shack and I missed it. Until then my participation in deer hunting was more obligation than desire. Wake hours before dawn, freeze your ass off for 10+ hours while waiting for deer that would never come, then be bossed around and/or ridiculed by your father and uncles until bed. That was deer season in my mind. Opening weekend of 1993 changed me. I truly missed it. Not because I felt obligated to go or because I was worried I’d disappoint my family if I didn’t go. I missed my brother, dad, grandpa, and uncles (although I’m quite sure my brother skipped that season as well). I missed cribbage. I missed the fire. Lake Wobegon and old jazz barely rising above the static from the battery powered radio. I missed going to bed on a warm cot and waking up in what felt like subzero temperatures. The last thing I missed was the actual hunting. I haven’t missed a deer season since.
So, this is my actual 30th season hunting deer in Wisconsin. It’s something I think about year-round, and when the leaves start to change color and the temperature shows signs of dropping, those thoughts begin to consume me. I’ve blogged about it for several years, but this year feels special to me. I plan on pulling out every story I can recall from three decades in the northwoods. I want my fellow hunters to contribute. If you are one of my hunting comrades past or present, please contact me so I can get you access to the blog and let’s get this started. May the next 72 days, 11 hours, 26 minutes, and 55 seconds be filled with tales of the shack, the Blacksmith Shop, Florence, Balsam Lake, New Lisbon, Dr. Death, The King, Cutter, Uncle Click, The Puppy Killer, Driftsock, Shotgun, Kneecap, Woody, Sherrards, Taco Night, cribbage, dirty clubs, and maybe we’ll get around to some deer hunting, too. This humble website is a place where deer hunting legends are celebrated.
Happy Autumn, everyone!