After excitment wanes, day two is about the huntOn the second day of Minnesota’s deer season, a somber sky rides low over the land, softening the edges of the distant ridges. This is the way deer season is supposed to look.
By: Sam Cook, Lake County News Chronicle
On the second day of Minnesota’s deer season, a somber sky rides low over the land, softening the edges of the distant ridges. This is the way deer season is supposed to look.
Everything has changed now. All of the back-slapping reunions at the shack are behind the hunters. All of that opening-morning anticipation is gone. All of the bold prognostications of the hunters have been forgotten.
On the second day of deer season, it’s just about the hunt.
Oh, there may be a buck or two hanging from the meat pole in camp from opening day. The pressure is off for those lucky hunters. But for the rest of the gang, it’s now about rising in the dark, taking on a few calories and trundling down the trail to the stand again.
It’s like going to work, except the office is nicer.
We all know the game. You can’t shoot a deer if you’re sitting in the shack. As in fishing, you have to have your line in the water. Which means you’ve got to be on the stand, staring at the same predictable scene you’ve already scanned countless times. You’ll scan it dozens more times on the second day of deer season.
The cool seeps in around the edges of the hunter’s clothing. The wind seeks any bare flesh it can find. The office is drafty.
For some, the second day of deer season comes with a sense of urgency. That’s because these hunters must leave the woods on this Sunday night, leave the simple camp life and head back for the bright lights, the multi-lane highways, the so-called real world.
Which is the real world, really? Every hunter would say that this is the real world, out here. The world where you must know the wind and the movements of the animals and the rhythms of the land. Out here, some things live and some things die, and the hunter has a lot of time to think about what it means to take a creature’s life. If that isn’t the real world, then what is?
But for other hunters, those not so tethered to the city, this is just one more day of deer hunting. One more day to climb into the stand, chamber a round, shove in a clip and wait for the forest to settle down.
The hunter sits and watches and listens. A raven passes over, unseen, making his raucous proclamations or doing that crazy water-dripping sound. Cool birds, ravens. Tough. Good hunters.
At the other end of the avian spectrum flit the chickadees. Some hunters carry bird seed to the stand and sprinkle it along the wooden railing for them. The chickadees, oblivious to the serious matters at hand, swoop down to snatch a few seeds, cocking their heads at the blaze-orange blob sitting nearby. Chickadees are part of the same eat-or-die circle of life as all the other critters. So why do they always seem so happy?
The day rides along. Minutes of vigilance become hours of solitude. The hunter tries not to look at his watch, fearing that time will have passed even more slowly than he thought. Finally, his stomach overrules the clock. It is time for lunch. A venison sausage sandwich right on the stand, perhaps, consumed in bites snatched surreptitiously.
Then, back to work. A visual sweep to the left. Now out front. Now on to the right and over an orange shoulder. The hunter looks for an ear twitch, a tail wiggle, an antler glint. He listens for a snapping twig or a crunching leaf.
Somewhere behind the gray gauze of sky, an unseen sun slides toward the western horizon. Maybe a buck appears. Maybe not.
It’s the second day of deer season. The hunt goes on.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune outdoors writer and columnist. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/samcookoutdoors.