My friend Michael Furtman offered some thoughtful comments on hunting today on his Facebook page. Mike is a Duluth outdoors writer and wildlife photographer (michaelfurtman.com). He was writing about deer hunting in Wisconsin. Thought I’d share his thoughts here:
“Hunting really well is hard, just plain hard. Even the experts can’t always get everything to mesh.” So said my friend, and great writer, Chris Madson. Few truer words have been spoken!
This morning, in a dense fog, I crept into the north woods. The first thing I saw were enormous tracks from what had to be a giant buck. Like all bucks, he had a mission in mind. He did not waver. He did not wander. It was a straight line from doe area A to doe area B, to doe area C. I was, of course, full of anticipation.
I sat at the crossing of several deer trails, waiting for him, or another buck, to appear. The morning was warm, the wind light, and as I sat I realized that for two hours, I’d never heard a shot. This is Wisconsin. This is the opening of deer season. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the woods, and yet there was no shooting. Not a good sign. The deer obviously were not moving. So I needed to.
So I walked. The woods were wet, and quiet, the snow the consistency of oatmeal. With the same skills I use to get photos of deer, I crept through the forest for six hours, often taking a half hour to creep a hundred yards. And I never saw a deer.
For those of you who do not hunt, I suppose it is easy to imagine that it is wanton slaughter out there, that deer are bounding this way and that, and that reckless, feckless hunters are slinging bullets willy nilly, that deer are stacked up like cord wood, and with no more respect. Well, that is not the case. The hunt is, more often than not, a long, tedious task. It is work. Enjoyable, sometimes. But work. All food should come with such effort. Perhaps not so much of it would be scraped into the trash can!
Tomorrow is, as they say, “another day.” I hope to “hunt well” as Chris said. But though I saw no deer, I did see numerous chickadees, nuthatches, some wild turkeys, an otter run, and the tracks of an American marten. It was a good day.