I was reminiscing the other day about my first whitetail deer hunt in my home state of Michigan and about how hunting has changed over the years.
As a kid my dad would take me to my grandfather’s cabin in northern Michigan where we would meet uncles, cousins, and my grandparents. As I remember there were about 10 of us including my grandmother the only woman in camp. I don’t know how we all fit as it was only a three-room cabin with four double bunk beds, a sofa, and a small space on the floor to make a bed. There was no running water so someone had to go out to the well and pump a bucket or two every day, that chore typically went to the youngest hunter in camp "me". Our "facilities" consisted of a "cold" outhouse about 40 yards from the cabin.
The cabin was a beehive of activity every morning and in the evening when supper was done and sandwiches had been made for the next day’s hunt the playing cards and whiskey were brought out. The days hunt was relived and the tales got taller as the evening wore on. The air was filled with merriment and continued into the wee hours of the night.
I remember my Gramp warning everyone that morning would come very early and how he was always in bed by 8 p.m. He was up at 4 a.m. and would be banging on an aluminum dishpan with a wooden spoon letting all the late-night revelers know that it was time to get up and get ready to go hunting. I remember his words as he played revelry every morning "daylight in the swamp boys". I’m sure there were a lot of throbbing heads as there were many bloodshot eyes and a whole lot of moaning going on.
I remember my first deer; I was on stand before daylight. My dad had taken me to the deer stand which was called, little buck point, and told me not to leave under any circumstance. He said he would return at noon to have lunch with me. Not long after daylight three deer materialized out of the trees and I shot the first one, a doe with my model 64 Winchester lever-action 30-30. It must have been an act of God that I was able to get the shot off, my heart was beating so hard that I thought the deer would hear it. After that I was hooked on hunting and have never gotten over the adrenalin charge I had that morning.
I remember the small town not too far from the cabin and the buck pole in front of the general store and the people who would stop and admire the deer hanging on the buck pole and the excitement over the big buck contest and who would win the prize for the biggest buck.
I remember tying my deer to the top of the car, and how proud I was to show everyone the deer I had shot. How everyone no matter where you stopped would come over and admire the trophies and how glad they were that you had taken a deer.
Well now the hunting culture has changed and we hide our deer in the back of the truck, there are no buck poles anywhere and we dare not say we killed a deer we now "harvest" a deer like we harvest a bushel of corn. It’s mostly hotels, motels, and lodges now.
In today’s culture it’s hard to get our children and grandchildren interested in hunting as there are so many distractions with new video games coming out daily, computer games, and Xbox vying for the youngster’s time. But it’s never too late to try and see if you can get a son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter interested in hunting and hopefully they will catch the same bug that you and I have.