Tales of the Hunts: In praise of Bubba

Published 8:00 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

Ten years ago, you would not hear me say anything positive about deer hunting.

It seemed too easy. All you have to do is climb a tree and wait.

The stereotype of “Bubba” and his pickup truck with a buck in the bed was rampant and was firmly ingrained in my mind.

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Little did I know that a decade later, there is hardly a day that goes by where I don’t think about deer. You may see Bubba one day with a deer in his pickup, but the hunt began months ago by enriching habitat and observing nature in ways seldom seen by the general population.

When the last day of deer season ends, the next deer season begins. Plans are already being made to make properties better on the drive home from the last deer hunt.

To have successful deer hunts, a healthy deer herd is a necessity. Food is key January through March for a healthy deer herd.

This is a tough time to be a deer. Acorns are gone, grasses are dead and vegetation is sparse. Deer hunters plant food plots to help deer this time of year to survive.

Pregnant does are needing nutrients to grow their fawns and the Bucks are run down and tired from trying to be the toughest buck in the herd to attract the does.

With winter food plots, the animals can sustain until natural vegetation starts to erupt in late March. Spring brings an abundant available food source.

Bubba knows these plots are not just for the deer, though. On an evening hunt, he can see turkeys, doves, deer, squirrels, songbirds, etc. A hunter who labors to plant a food plot looks with joy on a fall evening as abundant, healthy wildlife pours in.

When Bubba has set the table for the fall, it is time to finally hunt. This is the time hunters dream about, not out of a blood thirsty or caveman mindset, but an ability to rest and observe creation.

Sitting for hours on the ground or in a tree watching the day go by is a lost art. In our culture of instant gratification, spending time doing a task without a guaranteed outcome seems nonsensical. If a hunter’s success was based solely on animal harvest, hunters would be the biggest failures of all recreational enthusiasts.

The hours Bubba spends watching the sun rise and set with nature going at its regular rhythm around him makes a success without a kill. The hoot of an owl in the dark two trees away, the sound of acorns dropping like rain on a windy afternoon, the warning bark of squirrels as a hawk flies into a nearby tree; these are the rhythms of nature we never get to see in our hectic lives.

Seeing young bucks practice fighting while a group of turkeys work their way up a field puts the hunter into a pastoral paradise that he helped create.

Maybe at the end of the hunt, a deer is taken and the peaceful silence is broken for a time. After the shot, there is some celebration, but also a feeling of respect and gratitude.

The meat will be enjoyed with friends and family. Around the table, the Bubba will recall the hard work it took to make a piece of dirt healthy enough to make the deer thrive. He will also remember the unique sights and sounds that every hunt brings.

You may see Bubba driving around with a deer in the bed of his pickup truck, but what you don’t see was the hours Bubba spent watching the woods, the time and money spent improving habitat, and giving thanks for the opportunity to feed his family.

Nature is better appreciated when it is understood. You would be hard pressed to find someone who loves all aspects of the outdoors more than a deer hunter.