The other day I peeked into my den.
I was immediately struck by the “stuff” I accumulated, and it sparked some thought.
As a student of war, I once read a book about the requirements for the D-Day invasion of WWII. The amount of material needed was simply beyond my comprehension, and the men, lists, and planning needed before the computer age were astounding. How it went is beyond me, as the simple coordination of the tons of food needed, ordering, storing, storing, loading, shipping, assigning destinations, crossing the Atlantic and then to Europe have created mountains of paperwork and incredible coordination of trains, trucks, ships, planes and the inevitable handling, sorting and correction of errors.
When I was 12, hunting was a whole different animal than it is today. In fact, it was a fairly straightforward proposition, free from tedious logistics and planning.
In “daytime,” my dad and I went squirrel hunting, entering his room on Friday night and looking over a wall covered with topographic maps. After discussion, a valley was chosen – Tracy, Schoolhouse, North Branch or Pigeon – and that was it; Saturday we hunted there.
We had whatever pants we had, canvas Carharts or worn blue jeans, our green rubber boots, a warm jacket and a hunting vest. You made sure the vest was filled with seashells and left in the light of day. Deer hunting was a little different except you wore more clothes and needed gloves.
My, oh, my how things have changed.
The mere memory of a day of archery hunting this fall made me realize all that has happened and how the simple and straightforward hunting of the past has been revolutionized for the better or, perhaps, for the worst.
HUNTERS have always recognized that a deer’s nose is their best friend and have moved in the wind whenever possible. In the Longbow, the classic arc era of the 1960s and 1970s, the best hunters built stands of trees to soar above the deer and treacherous swirling air.
A few nails in the trees didn’t matter at the time and the builder’s skill showed in the makeshift bracket. Some were really scary; cheap lumber, poor planning, short nails, thin steps and braces. It is a miracle that the hospitals weren’t filled with injuries, but remarkably the number of accidents was rather low. I believe common sense was not as rare then as it seems to be now.
Basically you picked an apple tree or oak crest filled with fruit and built your stand. When the time was available you would put on any old, drab garment, grab your bow, feathered wooden arrows with simple broad heads, and climb your stand. There were a lot of deer and if you could shoot a doe directly that wasn’t a problem and a decent dollar was a good bet if you were patient and lucky.
HUNT today it is not that simple; I no longer believe that the life of a hunter is simple. For starters, driving a nail into a tree is paramount for high treason, and you must have permission to build a stand or make sure the tree is not damaged. Metal tree supports or climbers are the rule.
Not only that, but deer season in many ways begins months before October. If you are well informed, you have placed mineral blocks in early spring to give the hinds a boost for their fawns and the males a leg up on their antlers. Nobody did it at first or even thought about it. If you own a property, food plots are not uncommon and require tractors, fertilizers, lime and seeds as well as time to plant; logistics.
As you can see, months before deer season, hunters across the state are already gearing up. Oh, the last time I looked, the surveillance camera industry was doing pretty well; almost everyone has surveillance cameras these days, a bunch of stag peepers I guess.
It is clear that the logistics of deer hunting are ubiquitous and the planning required was unheard of in my youth, but I am also trapped.
This year, my stand had to be moved well in advance of the season and the limbs trimmed. Then new Rage BroadHeads were purchased and the crossbow was seen, which requires a special safety net and, of course, a range finder.
Oh, my, don’t forget the scent control. Special odor eliminator soap, drying sheets, a huge zippered bag for storing them and an odor eliminator spray. Once scent-free, drive to your seat, take off the house clothes, undress in the freezing dawn, and dress in the scent-free clothes, spraying again. What pain.
Make sure your boots are odorless and don’t touch any trees with your hands, being sure your scent is not blowing towards sleeping areas.
Make sure you leave a scent trail, slide a heating pad behind you, and place other scent stations around your booth before you go up. Then you can finally climb, sit down, relax, and start hunting.
Planning all of this in advance, buying the soaps, sprays, perfumes and other items needed for your hunt has become a small military campaign in itself. I often find myself wishing for the good old days when hunting was a lot cheaper and the only logistics I was interested in were in a book.