Appalachia

A Good Morning

Today’s post was written by The Deer Hunter.

treestand view

I’ve recently noticed I’ve been using the phrase “It was a good morning.”

As a deer hunter, I use this phrase in a questioning manner, trying to come up with an explanation as to why I saw no deer.

When the calendar says it’s the right time, the weather is cold, and I have put myself in what I believe is the correct spot, I should see deer right?

Well it doesn’t always work out that way.

Deer being deer, often have totally different plans than I do!

So after participating in over forty deer seasons, what constitutes a good morning has changed for me.

First off, don’t get me wrong, I love to deer hunt and I love eating deer meat, but killing a deer has become secondary to the hunting process.

Confusing right? I’m a little confused myself.

My whole life has been shaped by and consumed by deer hunting, but the older I get killing a deer is less important than hunting in a dignified manner.

My sweet wife jokingly says I’m getting soft. Maybe so.

Here are some of the things that constitute a good morning for me as a deer hunter in 2020.

  • making my way in the predawn quietly and undetected to my spot
  • being able to navigate my way in the dark without getting lost
  • using the wind to remain undetected
  • reading the sign correctly, putting the deer in front of me
  • being able to withstand very cold temperatures and remain comfortably warm
  • most of all, watching deer amble by going about their way totally oblivious to my presence—that means I played the game on their terms and won which gives me a totally satisfied feeling

I have a drive to hunt and be in the woods, to be an active participant in nature that is primal.

Understanding the predator prey relationship helps me see the magic of the woods more fully, only now I don’t have to kill to be completely fulfilled while hunting.

What constitutes a good morning for you?

The Deer Hunter

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Alex Sutton
    December 11, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    This is awesome and I totally agree! Sometimes it’s best to enjoy the nature all around us without specifically looking to kill something! I love how you said that you try to be dignified in how you hunt. I’ve gotten advice from several people to try using mineral licks, is that something you recommend?

    • Reply
      Tipper
      January 2, 2021 at 12:34 pm

      Alex-I don’t generally use mineral licks, but I don’t see anything wrong with folks who do. I haven’t heard about that one before, I’ll have to check it out. Thank you for commenting!

  • Reply
    pastor deb bonario-martin
    December 10, 2020 at 5:09 am

    the last person to a deer hunt and the kid who refused to hook her own “minner” (minnow) this post sure brought the smiles to my eyes! even better than summers at the red dirt hill were my frozen november weekends spent huddled up in the deer stand over 50yrs ago with my grandparents. memories of keeping warm together with battery operated socks from the army surplus and a thermos jug of camphouse coffee (laced with sweet cream and honey) came rushing back to me and i impulsively shared the post with my 30yr old son. i’m a full on bambi lovin’ vegetarian so his first thought was a stroke, but once i recounted some treasured childhood hunting lessons like minding manners in someone else’s “home” and on the importane of “dressing” a deer, his thinking cap lit up and he said he finally understood the story of my granddaddy and the doe. i was 8 when grandaddy gave up his deer lease, put away his rifles and they started eating out of the piggly wiggly. he and grandma had come from families with 9 kids who lived off their lands- they were married as teens and raised mom and her brother in a one room camphouse without electricity or indoor plumbing. like all salt of the earth folks what was for dinner usually was rabbit or squirrel stew and for the best occasions vennison. but hunting seasons become increasingly popular with city slickers in the late 70s and the woods had been breached by costumed “hunters” shining lights and setting up automatic corn feeders. literally calling to mind the saying of “deer in the headlights”and eventually somebody wounded a doe they were too lazy to be concerned about. it wandered around where we kept the hives and granddaddy spent the next year tending it before turning it back loose. i had my son reread the post to me so i could close my eyes and listen and he did. he read out loud in earnest, pausing only to reflect upon his own failings of trying to express feelings about early morning archery, marveling at what the stark peaceful still of the outdoors could tend to in the hurt heart. at 8 months his boy (i call my lil bunny) lives with his own mom in the burbs and although we do everything possible to get his feet bare and his face good and dirty, there’s no denying the culture mismatch between hillbillies and wasps. so i thank god for your slice of homespun and especially for the music- bunny’s got some special needs and loves to bang on lids and pans listening- his hands down favorite is the girls singing “christmastime’s a comin'” and we look forward to more enjoyable listening and pearls of wisdom!

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    December 10, 2020 at 1:53 am

    so true, deer hunter
    nature in its splendor and the earth is a magical place filled with beauty all around us..if we just take the time to see.
    stay safe and warm….

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    December 9, 2020 at 11:40 am

    I understand all that you said, Matt. Reading the comments, it seems that most everyone else did also. Good writing!

  • Reply
    Mark Swisher
    December 9, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Just getting out now days to Live in the Moment and watch the flow of life in the outdoors. No distractions to disturb thinking. Most of the time now days I am just taking my gun for a walk. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    December 9, 2020 at 11:21 am

    I agree with all you said and actually had an old hunter (who used to give me canned venison) and has long since passed tell me the exact same things. A good morning for me is a quiet sunrise and a nice cup of mud watching my birds.

  • Reply
    JimK
    December 9, 2020 at 10:45 am

    The “Good Morning” concept holds true here, any morning I find myself in the woods is a good one. I haven’t taken a buck in ten years only does for meat ( and fewer of those as the years pass by).
    I went last month to hunt on Norris lake for a 3 day camp, in leaving and returning to the farm I had to stop to allow deer to cross the driveway. Friends and neighbors question why I travel 2 hours to hunt. What they don’t understand is deer camp and companionship of like minded people. So going “soft” is acquired over time to the majority of our dying breed.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    December 9, 2020 at 10:37 am

    This is a beautiful piece. The thoughtfulness, awareness, and fragility of any relationship is all right here. The joy and peace you find in hunting is obvious.

    It sounds to me like you fully embody the moniker you’ve been given here.

    I really enjoyed this. You need to write more!

  • Reply
    Glenn Browning
    December 9, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Great post, thanks for putting into words the feeling many of us have developed over the decades. And thanks for all the great music through the years.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    December 9, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Knowing God gave me another day to wake up to go and do what he has for me that day.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    December 9, 2020 at 9:11 am

    A good morning for me is being able to watch the deer from inside my house and not having to brave the cold to do so. I could never be a deer hunter unless they change the season to April or May. Even then, I would still wear my heated socks and never go to my spot in the dark.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 9, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I used to think that becoming grown up was to reach a place where I stayed the same. How I got that idea I do not know but it is all wrong. What a joke on me! I ave never stopped changing, one way or another. As an adult the changes kinda slip up on us. We don’t feel them happening yet suddenly realize they have.

    I get my enjoyment of the woods in much the same ways you do; observation, land navigation, solitude and thinking. These days I don’t have to take anything away but I do take pictures. Yesterday it was trying to capture pine needles turned silver by the sun. A good morning to me is to see something new or learn something new in nature.

    I would say you are not ‘going soft’ but rather getting seasoned. You illustrate why the elders are good mentors for the youth. The elders have a long view that the young cannot gain without them except by living long enough to get it by experience. You also illustrate a valuable life secret, namely; find enjoyment in the ordinary.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    December 9, 2020 at 8:43 am

    There have been many hunters in my extended family in the past, and it seems to have made them much smarter than most about the workings of nature. They have learned amazing survival skills. One cousin hunted everything from ginseng to squirrels with his Dad and brothers. He never hunts anymore, but willingly lets friends hunt on his land. He is a world of info about the lay of the land, and knows the woods like the back of his hand. I have a keen interest in the old cemeteries and really old road beds, so he has been a great source of information for the county where my parents grew up. I love to tap into his knowledge in the study of genealogy, and he can tell endless stories about discovering old forgotten cemeteries or busted stills. He has learned which berries and plant life one can eat, and which to leave alone. Thanks to the deer hunter for this interesting post, and it seems you have acquired a depth and knowledge in your close walk with nature that few may ever know. Very interesting.

  • Reply
    Nancy Patterson
    December 9, 2020 at 8:22 am

    A good morning for me is to hear words of wisdom from you and your wife in a language that I love. I also enjoy all of the ways you find to share your life and ways of doing things. The music is awesome!

  • Reply
    Randy
    December 9, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Deer Hunter, I think you are getting older. I hunted for rabbits and my favorite, quail, when growing up and all of my hunting days. There were no deer or turkey in my area until they were turned loose in the 70’s by the wildlife department. Now it has completely reversed. Deer and turkey are all you see. Rabbits are seldom seen and quail are unheard of. But as I got older killing something was not as important to me as just being outdoors and watching my dogs work. I never cared for deer hunting. Now that I don’t hunt, I find my self agreeing with Donna, any morning that I wake up, and my loved ones are safe is a good morning. My life now reminds me of the song that says Thank You God for Your Blessings On Me.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    December 9, 2020 at 8:05 am

    Deer Hunter, almost every old hunter eventually comes to the point of “going soft.” It happened to me a short while back, and I had been a hard deer hunter for years–for meat first, big racks second. Then, gradually the wolf in me died. It’s a normal progression as we age. I wonder if I’d kill a deer now even if I had the opportunity. Probably not. My storehouse of hunting memories is sufficient to see me through the December of my life. Yet, using a grunt tube to call in an old buck during the rut is a thrill very close in intensity to successfully calling a gobbler to the gun and closing the sale. At 87, I’ve given that up too.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 9, 2020 at 7:25 am

    I’ve been hunting somewhat longer than Matt and my perspective coincides with his in some ways but not all. I’m no longer keen to go on morning deer hunts and primarily hunt in the afternoon. Cold weather bothers me quite a bit and I can’t seem to get enough clothing on when it is really bitter. I feel a bit more need than him to enjoy success–at least to the point where I have two deer processed and in the freezer, then the “I want to shoot one” compulsion wanes appreciably. I greatly enjoy discussing strategy, where each of us will hunt, reliving the hunt, and generally savoring the experience with the father-and-son duo who help me maintain roads, food plots, and the like on my hunting land. Finally, I greatly enjoy time in a deer stand (which is a singularly misleading word since they are in truth “sits,” not stands) and just watching and listening to the woods around me, having ample time to think about things, observing squirrels, songbirds, and turkeys going about their business, and being part of the magical time when light gradually gives way to night.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Maggie Boineau
    December 9, 2020 at 7:19 am

    I really enjoyed this post. Over time, we all grow and challenge ourselves. As a deer hunter, I love first light in the woods and all that nature has to offer. Harvesting a deer is not nearly as important as the appreciation I have for nature.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 9, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Good post and very thought provoking. You have evolved/matured from hunting to the hunt but then you have always been very thoughtful of the woods and and it’s processes.
    I think of you and the phrase “it was a good morning” and it means you were in the woods not just killing a deer but present in the woods. That’s where you’ve always loved to be.

  • Reply
    Don Tomlinson
    December 9, 2020 at 6:31 am

    I suppose the deer hunter’s musings today will strike a chord in many of us “seasoned “ hunters. I used to feel guilty for not wanting to hunt as hard and frequently as I had in the past but now I’ve learned to enjoy what I’m able to do and reminisce about the rest. It’s comforting nonetheless to hear or read about others going through the same phases so I can convince myself (if not the wife) that I’m not getting soft.

  • Reply
    Ken Caldwell
    December 9, 2020 at 6:25 am

    You hit the nail on the head! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    December 9, 2020 at 5:49 am

    I’m 76 years old. Any morning I wake up able to see, able to walk without too much pain, able to hear; if there’s food and a roof over my head… that’s a good morning.

    • Reply
      SusieQ
      December 9, 2020 at 10:50 am

      A wealth of learning shared there ..and like Miss Cindy said thought provoking .

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