“You’re going to do what?” my wife asked with an angry look on her face. “Are you kidding me? There is an ice storm warning for our area today, and you think it is a good idea to climb up in a tree stand and deer hunt?”
“Sure do baby, you know me, I’ll be safe,” I shot back.
“Yes I do know you and that’s what scares me. You’re unbelievable sometimes.”
That is the way my 5:00 a.m. conversation went with my wife as I was headed out the door to go to my favorite tree last November. There was an ice storm bearing down on Indiana and I knew it could be a bad one. But the way I saw it, the storm wouldn’t rev up until about noon and there was a good chance the deer movement would be heavy before the storm started. I wanted to put one more deer in the freezer before the holidays. The day was cold with a stiff wind that seemed to penetrate every bone in my body. By 9:00 a.m. I was knocking ice off of my bow and nocked arrow. By ten I was wondering if my climber would grip the tree trunk on the way down so I decided to give it up and climb down. As it turns out, the deer were smarter than me that day and were already bedded down in preparation for the storm.
In retrospect, was it a bad hunting day? Absolutely not! My hunting partner and I both enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We didn’t bag any game, although he got very close before the bedded deer spooked and ran away. Other than his runaways, I didn’t even see another four-legged mammal that day. Most people would have detested that time in the cold but I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat. Why? My wife would say it is because I am just not right, but I say it is because I was born with the Hunter’s gene.
Anyone one who is a hardcore hunter knows exactly what I mean when I talk about the Hunter’s gene. Anyone who isn’t generally doesn’t have a clue what I am talking about. It isn’t because of their intelligence, it’s because they weren’t born with the gene like we were. The Hunter’s gene is what drives us to do supposedly crazy things like sitting out in an ice storm, or crawling on our hands and knees through a mosquito infested swamp, or pursuing carnivores much larger and tougher than we are with just a bow and arrow. But it doesn’t stop there. The Hunter’s gene also ensures that we keep our families well-fed, well-protected and warm through those ice storms. It is what propels us to defend our families, our nation and other nations during times of trouble. It is what allows us to personally and quietly sacrifice so that others have what they need. And yes, it is what enables us to willingly go out into the depths of nature with nothing but stick and string and go to battle with the best eyes, ears and noses that exist. And even on those times where the battle doesn’t end with a kill, we are still grateful for having been able to participate, and can’t wait to do it again.
Having said all that, I realize I didn’t need to say it at all. Without a word, you already understood.