Hunting > Whitetails

10 Million Deer Hunters Roll Out for the Rut

This is a big deal. Work will wait, schools will close—all in the name of deer season. Can you feel the wind blow out of the northwest? It’s opening day.

10/26/10


In the pre-dawn darkness I haul my carcass up the same hill I’ve climbed for more than 30 years. It’s not a long walk, but it’s a steep one. I like the spot “up top” because it overlooks a bench deep in the woods where bucks like to bed. It’s also close to national park land, which spells “sanctuary” to me. Tapping a little honeyhole like this next to un-huntable land has worked magic for generations.


About halfway up, I pause to keep the lather to a minimum. But it’s too late, as the bead of sweat that runs down my back reminds me. I remove my hat and wipe my brow, and my mind wanders to all the bucks we’ve killed here over the years. The spike I shot over a scrape in muzzleloader season; my oldest son Anthony’s first deer; Uncle Steve’s 14-pointer and a wide-racked sucker that looked like it belonged in Texas; my brother Marc’s two 150-inch whoppers; and the double-mainbeam freak I tagged the day before Thanksgiving just a few years ago—all were taken on this hillside.


Then I think about all the brutes killed by hunters in places that grow bigger bucks than our little piece of the Old Dominion will ever produce. Beginners, one-week-a-year types, diehards, eccentrics—I see every hunter’s face, go over every account I’ve read in magazines in a 10-year span. A choice location is almost always part of the equation. But surely there is chance involved, too. No matter how smart or how persistent we might be, Lady Luck always has her say. How else to explain the first-timers who drop Booners on opening day?


Yes, that’s the ticket, that’s the key that helps me put one foot in front of the other, sweat be damned. It doesn’t matter where one hunts, only that he does so. Luck can shine her light on any of us, anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether it’s our first step into the woods or if we’ve spent half our lives there, we need only hunt to join the fraternity. Still, I can’t help thinking a nice buck would ice the endeavor. Why can’t this be the year I drop a Booner?


So I climb, anxious with the knowledge that it could happen here, now. I’ll never know for sure unless I get up top and settle in before the bucks show up after a night of feeding. As inveterate gamblers like to say, “Ya gotta be there for the roll.”


Deer Season By the Numbers



  • 6.2 million: number of deer killed by hunters in 2008

  • 30 million: number of deer estimated to exist in the United States

  • 15: average number of days each deer hunter spends in the woods

  • 132 million: total number of days all hunters spend in the woods each year

  • 10.1 million: number of deer hunters in the United States


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1 Response to 10 Million Deer Hunters Roll Out for the Rut

Jeff wrote:
October 27, 2010

It would be good information to have also listed the millions of dollars that the "deer hunters" put into the state conservation departments budget that supports this cause. In addition, think about the millions of dollars pumped into sporting goods, RV’s, ATV’s, etc. Then add the millions spent at local level via hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. The dollar figure would be staggering and an eye opener to those who want to take away our rights because those dollars could not be replaced with vegetarian restaurants… Remember that "vegetarian" is an old indian word for "Bad Hunter"!