The Deer Hunting Landscape

The hunt goes on. Minnesota’s firearms deer hunt has entered its final week. Hunters who want to shoot a deer — or another deer — will have until Sunday (Nov. 18) to do that. Most hunters hunt the first and second weekends of the season, so this is the quiet part of the season.
A deer hunter I know said he woke up this morning — at home — thinking about deer hunting. He has hunted both the first two weekends of the season.
“I know what I like about deer hunting,” he said. “It’s the bleak and barren landscape, and that spruce swamp where we hunt.”
His party’s stands are located on either side of the swamp. The deer, he said, move out of the lowlands late in the day, headed for a nearby clearcut to feed. Two of his hunting partners have killed bucks so far this fall.
I know what he means about this time of year, about the way the land looks lean and spare. The popples stand bare against a sky that is often low and gray. The spruces wear their muted boughs against the dead grasses of the swamp. The bird migration is mostly complete now, with a few eagles, large hawks and ducks left to move. The landscape has been reduced to its essentials, waiting for winter.
A deer hunter looks at that landscape for hours, and suddenly, a deer materializes where none had been before. Then, there’s a decision to be made. Is it buck or doe, and does that matter? Is it big enough? Does it present a reasonable shot?
If the answers all fall into place, the hunter may soon be wrapping venison for the freezer.

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