Every year, I post something about the start of gun hunting season in Maine. Just as a reminder for runners and others who are out wandering around in the outdoors that they will be sharing many of their favorite haunts with guys and gals that are carrying guns and have as much right to be in the woods as they do.
I usually start from scratch, but I re-read my post from last year and to be honest, it still says I want I want to share with a few updates/edits.
So here goes.
Well the annual big event in rural Maine — Opening Day of Gun Deer Hunting Season happens this weekend. In many areas it is a huge deal, with Hunters Breakfasts, family gatherings, gettin upta huntin camp and all the other hoopla.
I get it, I used to get all excited about it too and was into archery and gun hunting as much as anyone. It was something that I grew up doing and I loved going out into the woods with Dad, even when it was -10*F and walking on stumps (that my feet had become in my old gum rubbers) back to the old Torino station wagon. The memories of hunting seasons past, keep it alive in my mind.
Pretty much, to the rest of my family, hunting is still a big deal and every so often I get the hankering to get ready again to join in and go hunting again, but then it fades.
What happened to me?
Let’s be real, I was never a great hunter, I was more of a hunting gear head. I loved the gear side. You know all the toys, bells and whistles that hunters get to be “better” hunters.
Besides, I couldn’t sit still if you tied me up and put chains on me, so sitting and waiting for a deer to come in, didn’t happen too often. I have shot one deer in all the years I hunted and that was with a bow. I was always better at finding deer that other people shot, I could read the ground fairly well.
So I was not the great hunter by any stretch of the imagination. It meant more to me to be able to spend time with the family and be with them than going out with the intention to kill a deer, bear or whatever was in season.
After I moved down to Sidney in 2000, work and stuff got in the way of getting up north to go hunting. Even though I live in a rural area and, where I could walk out my back door and within 3-4 minutes be sitting in a tree stand. I just never got around to getting my hunting license, ammo, sighting in my gun, scouting the area, getting permission to hunt on private land, putting up a tree stand and all the other stuff that goes into being a good hunter
Hunting stopped being a priority and if I am honest with myself, I just do not enjoy killing something – if I do not have to. I know if I had to kill a critter to eat that I could without any issues, but the need is not there in my life.
Now, hunting season is something that I just deal with. Instead of opening day invoking the joy and thrill of the hunt, it is something I sort of dread. It means a change to our routines and with the influx of people hunting down-back, we have to deal with them while Bennie and I are running or walking down there.
While most hunters are great about sharing the roads down-back with us during hunting season, others well let’s just say they are rather ignorant and leave it at that.
However, hunting season does mean that we have to be mindful of our what we wear and when we run – just being safe, practical and realistic.
No wearing whites, blacks, grays or browns, wearing orange is a must if going down-back and I prefer to wear a contrasting hi-vis yellow too, to let them know I am not another hunter.
Also I avoid being in or around the woods before 9:00 AM and if for some reason I am wandering around in them in the afternoon, I really try to be out before 3:00 PM. Safety first, dawn and dusk are when the majority of hunters will be in the woods. Also if I am trail running in areas I am not sure of, I might add a little jingle bell on my waist belt, just to let everyone know I am coming around.
Although it does jump the bejeezums out of me if a hunter does shoot when I am within a few hundred yards of where I am running. It happens and when it does, I jump, the heart goes into my throat, I stop running, do a quick duck down on one knee behind a tree if available, look where I think the shot came from. Then I do a quick body scan for blood and yell out “Hello!” a couple of times. Just to let everyone know there is someone else in the area. I am pretty sure they are not shooting at me since I am in fluorescent orange and stuff, but I do want them to know I am around.
I have no desire to be a statistic.
Then I get to eat that adrenaline burger and have a pretty good next mile.
So while many love opening day, this former hunter just deals with it, smiles when he sees others who are enjoying being out in the woods hunting and waves to them as we go by. However, I am glad when things get back to normal around the neighborhood after Thanksgiving Weekend.
Will I ever go hunting again?
I don’t know.
I still get the urge every so often and would have to go through a hunter safety course, clean up the old rifle, buy ammo, get things sighted in, buy a license, then spend time out in the woods, scouting, sitting and actually going out with the intention to kill an animal to eat.
It all seems like a lot of work to me for a very limited amount of meat. At this point in my life it is easier to go over to Marcoux’s and buy the meat we want.
I will not say never, but for now I will let others head into the woods and hunt.
Me, I’ll keep running down-back with Bennie, deal with the increased traffic down there and put up with some of the ignorant comments that hunters, who don’t live in the neighborhood, are bound to make about how I am interrupting or interfering with their hunting, by running or walking with my dog down-back.
You know something that I do pretty much every day, year-round.
Even so, I will defend and support other’s right to hunt, I believe that everyone should have the skills to survive if they have to and hunting is one of those skills that is timeless and in my opinion needs to be learned.
If you eat meat, I believe that you should have to kill a critter at least once, gut it out, skin it and then eat what you kill. I believe it gives you a better understanding and more respect for life and death. The meat is no longer simply something that comes in plastic wrap, that you buy at the store. You realize much better that at one time that that meat came from a living and breathing critter who gave its life for you to eat it.
Many will not and do not agree with me, but that is okay…we all have things that we believe in that others do not. It is what makes America great, we do not always have to agree to get along. I also know that this belief of mine is not reality, so it is not really something to argue about.
Who knows if my grandkids ever move to Maine, I might change my mind and teach them and their father, this valuable skill and get back into hunting for a good reason. For now I will just keep on waving and smiling at the boys and girls in orange carrying their rifles.
Like the song says – “Country Boys Can Survive”.