I've finally admitted that I don't like deer hunting. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. Sure I'll continue to hunt deer. After all, I love eating venison. But I'm not one to sit still. As rewarding as it is to score a deer with archery equipment, I just don't have too many stand sits in me, so they'll be few and far between.
Thankfully there are other methods of collecting venison that don't require long sits. Deer driving can be a productive way of filling a tag, and it's quite fun. I participate a number of drives each season, and seldom get bored as were constantly moving, and repositioning, and starting new drives. Deer tracking is another exciting example. Some years back the Benoits, of Vermont, introduced the world to the art of tracking big bucks in the snow, with a series of books and videos. Actually, The Benoits reintroduced the art, as their father had written and published a book detailing the art back in the 60's. I've tried my hand at tracking, and have found it to be enjoyable. Though I've yet to score a deer this way, I've had some close encounters. A couple of seasons ago I snuck off on Christmas morning. Fresh snow had fallen, the wife was sleeping in, and I had a doe tag (like I said, I like eating venison). I cut a pair of fresh track right away, and judging from the stride thought they might be moving lazily along nearby. I crept along slowly, scanning ahead, fortunate enough to have the wind in my face. The thud of snow falling from some branches to the ground off to my right caught my attention, and when I looked back ahead I found myself staring at two does who'd been laying down 20 yards ahead, just over the crest of a slight incline. No sooner did a realize they were there, they were gone. No shot was fired, but it was satisfying none the less. I walked the ridge, back towards my car, scanning for a bit of fresh track. I found it too. No doubt this new, big track, crisp and fresh, crossing the road within sight of my car, was that of the big 10 point that had been seen on many a trail camera, but never in the flesh. Unfortunately, it was Christmas morning, and I only had a 1/2 day pass.
Other revelations revolve around food. While I enjoy eating game, there is some that just doesn't satisfy on a regular basis. Coupled with the fact the the only game my wife will eat being venison, I've decided that there are some species to be left alone. Geese, and hares are the first that come to mind. Geese are quite large, so I will never eat one by myself. They also tend to vary in taste considerable from one goose to the next. I'll still shoot the occasional goose, but it'll be during one of those rainy grouse camp years where we spend more time in a dick blind than in the woods, and the goose is sure to get eaten by the crew at camp. I may also one day find the motivation, and desire to make a batch of goose sausage.
Hares are not a very potable species in my opinion. While they are abundant in many of the areas I grouse hunt, I don't expect to be tipping too many over. Sure, I'll kill a hare once in a while. The dog still needs a little practice handling them, so it'll get boiled down and feed to the dog. Besides, she needs a little spoiling. Cotton Tails, however, will be shot, and tabled any chance I get.
My fishing exploits have suffered a few revelations, too. While I still enjoy fly fishing, I feel like I've been spoiled after having the opportunity to tie into some big fish in upstate NY. After that, I just didn't want to catch average sized trout anymore. By my estimation, after catching salmon on a fly rod, catching smallies in a light weight rod is the next best thing. Though, striped bass on a fly rod is kinda fun, too.
These revelations don't only come in negative values. There are things that I have positively identified as areas of interest. There are big game species that I'd very much like to have a go at. Black bear has long been an interest of mine, and I hope one day to get to tag one with a bow. Likewise for moose. To be able to get close enough to take a moose with a bow must be a real rush. not to mention the quantity of venison you'll be bringing home. Being primarily a meat hunter, I'd also like to have an opportunity to one day hunt deer in a place where I feel like I have a chance to kill a big buck. Not that I'm planning to convert to antler chasing, but I'd sure like to see several bucks in one day, rather than being happy to see a couple of bucks in one season.
My revelations don't stop with big game. I've got some wingshooting ideas, too. Of most interest to me is the idea of wingshooting in Great Britain. Driven pheasant on an estate, and grouse in the moors sound like real adventures to me. The whole social aspect of the British style of shooting appeals to me. But get this. Over the years, as I've studied and investigated the shooting culture of our cousins across the pond, the one type of shooting I'd like the most to experience is pigeon. For some reason the relative DIY, blue collar appearance of pigeon shooting has really captured my interest.
The true beauty of revelations such as these are that they are organic, and ever changing. Come tomorrow I may realize that I really do like catching average sized trout, and the taste of hare. Doubt I'll ever really develop a long term interest in treestand sitting, however.