by Bob Warden
In a few short weeks, we will all be sleeping off Thanksgiving dinner or watching football games with family and friends…and getting ready for opening day of deer firearms season! By getting ready, I don’t just mean getting our guns and gear together, I mean swapping stories from our many years of opening days.
Even though I hunt opening day of archery, I have always highly anticipated the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Maryland, and the Monday after Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. I guess it’s a tradition we had as I was growing up. I grew up in the Baltimore suburbs, but my hunting adventures with my Dad (starting at age fifteen—wow, forty-one years ago) were always on a farm just outside of Emmitsburg. My first rabbit, first pheasant, and first deer, all came from that farm.
I also have memories at age fifteen of working at Clyde’s Sport Shop in Lansdowne, Maryland. On the Friday before the opener, crowds of people would get last minute supplies, ammo, licenses, etc. I heard stories of the previous year’s hunts, and as a kid, I tried to figure out which were the made up ones and which were the true ones. I still have trouble with that.
As we get older and have kids and grandkids, many of you know that our memories switch from “us” to “them.” I can still remember the first deer my son, Chris, shot on land not far from the Frederick watershed. It was a spike deer. Sitting in that tree stand and seeing him shoot, and the deer falling thirty yards away, is forever embedded in my memory bank, as I’m sure it is for him as well (even though it’s been many years)!
Some of you may remember that on opening day, if you got your deer early, you went down to the checking station to see the other deer being checked in. You know the questions: How many points? What did it weigh? What did you shoot it with? I sometimes wish we still had checking stations, as I’m sure many old timers do, too. It was like a reunion seeing friends with their deer, and seeing people you haven’t seen since the previous season.
Anyway, before I really put you to sleep like that Thanksgiving turkey (believe me I could, I have lots of stories and memories), let me leave you with some closing words and thoughts.
As you can tell, to me, memories afield are just as important as bagging our quarry. I hope you have many memories, and I hope hearing a few of mine has helped you relive and revisit some of your special hunting or hunting-related memories. Maybe it brings a smile to your face, or maybe a tear to your eye like it does for me, because my Dad, my Uncle Frank, my Grandfather Warden, and all who instilled the hunting spirit in me are gone, but they have left the legacy to me to pass on.
So, to all you older hunters like me, and to all you young hunters, I wish you all good luck in the up-coming deer season!
But most of all: Hunt Safe, Hunt Ethically, and Make Memories!