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prep - hunting season no end in sight

Hunting season: no end in sight

By Joe Arterburn


I don’t know about where you’re from, but around here the end of one year and the start of another is neither the end nor the start of hunting season. It’s the continuation of hunting that started in the fall (spring, actually) and it really won’t end until, well, who wants to think about it ending?

Hunting for me usually starts September 1 with dove season, then rolls right into teal season, then things start happening fast—antelope, pheasant, duck, goose, predator, deer. Ah, deer. I hate to say it is the highlight, but it is certainly a highlight, because it usually becomes an all-family event, or at least some combination of our three boys, Hunter, Jack and Sam. Cathy, not a hunter herself, drags out her big yellow duffel bag of hunting clothes. Cathy, bundled against the cold, comes along as a spotter, setting up a spotting scope on high points, scanning near and far for deer.

Now, Jack is married to Emily, who participated in our family hunt when they were dating. They have a young son, Cogan, so Emily stayed home this past season. I look forward to future deer seasons when she and Cogan will be right along with us.

Our deer hunting is not about getting the biggest buck. Oh, there’s some competition, but there is usually a consensus on who will hunt where; who will get first shot, which sometimes is tied to who can hunt how many days before having to get back to work. And, there’s not a lot of big bucks in our neck of the woods anyway.

We usually mix deer and pheasant hunting, their seasons running concurrently here. We’ll take a break during lulls in deer hunting to walk weedy patches and edges of corn stubble fields.

Deer season rolls by and our hunting efforts shift to waterfowl, waterfowl, waterfowl—and predator hunting, coyotes, to be exact. But December brings our muzzleloader deer season, so if we feel we need more summer sausage and venison sticks, we head out again; not necessarily all of us, but usually someone will want to dedicate a few days, even if it’s a couple between Christmas and New Year’s.

We pause around New Year’s for football and eating snacks and leftover Christmas goodies. (Another overeating holiday, it seems.) We have antlerless-only deer season throughout January, but we’ve only done that once or twice, content with venison in the freezer. Pheasant season, though, runs through January.

Then there is usually a pause, as deep-freeze weather sets in. And by pause, I mean everything pauses but coyote hunting, which is in full swing. Then hints of spring appear, and out comes the turkey-hunting vest. Turkey calls are tested and conditioned, the shotgun cleaned and ready to take out to pattern, again.

And before you know it, it’s hunting season. And there’s no end in sight.