• Wis Outdoor Explorer

Deer Hunting is Not About The Deer

During this time of year, myself and most other get asked the same question, “Do you hunt?” My answer has been the same for almost 20 years, “I use to, but not anymore.” The last time I went hunting during Wisconsin’s gun deer season, I was a sophomore in college. I remember talking with all the guys that lived in my wing at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point about going out opening morning and hopefully bagging the big buck. I think I shot a small four pointer that year, but I didn’t realize that would be my last hunt.

Deer hunting is about more than just the deer.

I could give you a list of reasons why I stopped hunting. But they would just be excuses and really not the true reason. It’s taken these past 20 years of not hunting to really understand why I stopped.

Before I could hunt, I remember my dad getting ready for the opening of gun deer season each year. He would get the truck camper mounted on the truck and mom would be busy making food to keep him stocked through the weekend. My dad was usually just an opening weekend hunter. He didn’t have much vacation time during the year so he was never able to take off the whole week. But he always enjoyed going out opening weekend. My uncle from Milwaukee and his sons, who were a few years older than I was, came up and they would leave Friday night for some public land spot that they decided to hunt for the year. When my grandpa retired from farming, he would join them.

When I started hunting, Dad wanted to change it up a little bit. The public land where they were used to hunting was clear cut, making other public land in the area more congested with hunters. Luckily my grandpa owned a few acres of woods behind the farm that we could try hunting. This also opened the door to a second uncle and his son to come hunting with us as well. My first-year hunting would include them, my dad and grandfather, and my other uncle and his son from Milwaukee. I didn’t get a deer that year, but I got my first taste of what really made hunting special.

As the years passed on, my relatives from Milwaukee stopped coming up and my other cousin started finding different areas to hunt. Grandpa would only go out for a few hours on opening morning and then not at all. Towards the end, it was one uncle, my dad and myself that were heading out on opening morning. At that point, I enjoyed being out in the woods and in quiet more than I did waiting in the cold, snow and rain for a deer to come wandering through. My life was also become busier and I couldn’t help but think of things I should be doing instead of hunting.

Family Hunt in Central Wisconsin early 1990's - - Left to Right-My Grandpa, My Dad, Cousin, Myself, Uncle

At that point, hunting wasn’t fun for me any longer. My dad wasn’t ever a die-hard hunter and the cold weather was making it more difficult for him to be out in the woods for long periods of time. So, we decided to stop hunting. My uncle went a few years after that with his son, but eventually he stopped going as well.

Fast forward to today, I realize that I don’t miss hunting as much as I miss gathering with my family and listening to stories of past hunts. My grandfather and one of my uncles have passed since. My dad will never head back out into the woods for another hunt. One of my cousins occasionally hunts my grandfather’s woods with his daughter, which I think is great.

I’ve thought about getting back into hunting, but just haven’t found the right situation. As my daughters get older, I’ve told them that if they are interested in hunting, I will take them out and see if they like it. But honestly for me, it was never about the hunting. It was always about being with family and just being together. Hunting was just the excuse we used in order to be together. I’ll always cherish those years hunting with my dad and grandpa. We had some really great times and every so often we even got a deer.

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