This is a guest post from Wired To Hunt reader and creator of the4pointer.com , Tim Biebel . Tim hunts in the big woods of the Northeast, and today he shares some perspective on what it’s like to hunt in this world steeped in tradition, yet usually lacking in the big “magazine quality deer” you see in most hunting media today.
By Tim Biebel
In just a few short months I’ll be making my annual trip to the Midwest in search of giant whitetails. For a guy who lives in and hunts the rest of the year in Vermont and New Hampshire this is the highlight of my season. All year I read about the big whitetails that live in the Midwest and watch endless hours of hunting videos leading up to this trip. It’s almost too much to bear.
I can imagine it already. We’ve hardly landed and I’m pointing out the giants I came to see to my three year old. Then the sound of someone knocking over a display case in the sporting goods aisle of Scheels brings me back to reality and reminds me that I’m on a trip with my wife and son to visit her side of the family … and I’m not here to hunt. A guy can dream though, and that’s what I do. To the northeast hunter, the Midwest is the Mecca of deer hunting; a place where big bucks hide behind every tree or cornstalk. Give it a day or two and you can punch your tag on a decent buck, right?
I think Rose Kennedy summed up the northeast hunter best when she said, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
I’m not sure if Mrs. Kennedy ever hunted in the Green Mountains of Vermont, but with a quote like that I wouldn’t put it past her. What sane hunter would head off in to the frigid morning darkness to hunt an area that only produces .59 bucks per square mile and deer sightings only amount to 1.15 deer for every 10 hours in the woods? This guy would. Well, this guy and Rose Kennedy, it would seem.
Opening morning of rifle season in Vermont will find me deep in the woods checking behind every tree for sign of a big buck that migrated from the Midwest for a special meeting with yours truly. By noon I’ll be sizing up a red squirrel through my scope and stretching my imagination to draw a nice rack between its ears. As the sunset rolls around I’ll have been thinking about a warm shower for hours. Don’t ask me what I’ll be doing by the end of the season. I’ll be lucky if I haven’t given up all hope. Rose was right; time has a way of helping my mind form a solid layer of scar tissue over the fact that I only saw five deer in three weeks of hunting last year. Killing any deer here, let alone a big buck, should be considered a success. For example, in 2012, only 15% of Vermont hunters lucky enough to draw a doe permit were successful over a nine day season. Those aren’t great odds for killing deer.
But even if you offered me your Iowa season in a trade for my Vermont season I wouldn’t take you up on the offer. As tough as the hunting is here, I wouldn’t trade away a season easily. Over the years I’ve come to understand that hunting is about more than just filling your tag. It’s about the endless pursuit of The Big One and time with family. It’s about seeing the sunset over a canvas of fall foliage and watching the woods come to life when it rises in the morning. It’s about the memories made when the four-wheeler won’t start and you’re running out of time to get to your stand a mile back in the woods. That’s what makes hunting special. Shooting a deer is only the frosting on an already tasty cake.
I like hunting here. I like the tradition of the Old Timers wearing their green woolies and flannel hunting jackets. I like driving by the local restaurant at 4:45 a.m. on opening morning knowing they opened early just for us hunters. I like knowing that when you see someone checking in a deer at the local general store it’s a special event and not just normal procedure. Stopping to buy a Coke and looking over the harvest report hanging on the wall is an event I look forward to all year. I still remember seeing my name in the newspaper as a 10-year-old boy when I shot my first deer. Now that’s special!
Don’t get me wrong – big bucks are shot here every year but the number pales in comparison to the Midwest. So, if your only goal while deer hunting is to shoot a high scoring rack, this isn’t the area for you. But if you’re like me and have come to appreciate the truly important aspects of hunting, that probably doesn’t matter too much to you anyway. Once you remove the increased opportunity at big deer out of the equation, my guess is that you and I are pretty similar. We’re both hunters watching the same sun set over the trees.
The only difference is that you get more big deer under your sunset; and maybe I get bigger trees. Lucky bums.
– Tim Biebel, the4pointer.com