Thursday, November 15, 2007

Go north, old man

Well, he's gone. My darling husband is gone. Gone to deer camp, that is.
For those of you who don't live in Wisconsin, deer season starts this Saturday.
One may define deer season as the weeks that the white-tailed deer may be legally shot, usually in mid to late November. This is way I thought about deer season for many years.

As I grew up, my father hunted raccoons, foxes, coyotes, rabbits, and he even shot a bear once. The deer were also fair game..... Deer season was short and intense, but my Dad stayed at home, and hunted on the farm. The rhythm of life was slightly disturbed by the hunt, but it was never that big of a deal..... My Mom did not let us take any walks in the woods during deer season.but that's about it..

Years passed, and I married a man who hunts deer. It is different that the deer hunting I knew as a child.... For him, it is the high point of the year. The deer camp is "up north", away from home, a bastion of masculinity. At least five days to be with "the guys", eating, drinking, telling stories, and maybe a little hunting. Dave thinks deer season should be a national holiday..
He prepares for weeks ahead, marking his territory in the woods.....with orange plastic tape.....but I think he would pee on the trees if that would keep other hunters away. Looks for sign that the deer are in the area, tracks, and rubs and scrapes..... Yes, rubs and scrapes.... if you don't know what that means read on
During the mating season, also called the "rut," bucks fight for territory and the privilege of mating with the most female deer. Bucks will crash antlers to claim this territory. A buck will also mark his territory by stomping on the ground to make "scrapes" on the land and rubbing his antlers on trees, called a "buck rub."

About a week before the season, the plans and anticipation really ramps up... Orange clothing appears hanging on my wash line....
Dave buys new socks and underwear.
The LIST is made.
This list has all the essential "deer hunting supplies" on it. Worse than Santa, Dave checks this list more than twice... everything from gutting gloves to brandy is diligently packed, and checked off the list. For a few years , early in our marriage, being a good wife, I would try to help Dave pack..... Now I have learned it is best to stay out of his way.... I answer when he hollers "Where is my Thermos?", but mostly I just watch him scurry around, collecting all the required accoutrements. Ten pairs of wool socks, piles of long underwear, and and orange beanie.

Deer camp is our cabin, and they "guys" are Dave and Clay, and two or three friends that have hunted together for years. Many years. This year, one of the fellows, Ronnie, will not be there, he passed away last spring. In fact, deer hunting is how Dave was introduced to the north woods and the Goodman area. Ronnie and his father took Dave along hunting in Goodman way back in the 1960's.
Deer camp holds many memories for these men.

Once in a great while,,,, someone shoots a deer. Getting a deer IS NOT what this is about. It's male bonding, tradition, and relaxing... I am so glad he does this every year....

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