Deer Season Is Over. Now What?

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Now what?

That's the thought that filled my head as I lie in bed last night.

Deer season is over. Been over, in fact, for about two weeks but I've been busy enough not to really notice. 

Today, I noticed. 

It's cold. Cold enough that this life-long Michigan resident is chilly. And that's saying something. Maybe it's that I'm getting older. Or smarter. Regardless, I no longer tolerate the frigid weather like I once did. I suspect it's because I now know that it's not like this everywhere.

Work-related visits to southern locations have shown that the "winter" months need not be brutal and miserable. People actually catch fish in January, February and March. And they do it without having to bore a hole through 8 inches of ice. What a concept.

I can tolerate winter so long as the daytime temps allow for outside activity. Give me a 30-degree day with some sunshine and I'll be outside. But as I write this, it's -10. And that's not accounting for the wind chill. My truck actually groaned this morning when I tried to start it so that I could take the kids to school. It groaned. Out loud. Perhaps I am a pansy. Those who live in more brutal locations likely think so. I can accept that. 

I'm not a meteorologist, so I have no idea what the next few weeks will bring. But if it's anything like last year, I could be stuck in this office for a very long time. Last winter, I went nearly five weeks without leaving my house for anything other than mandatory excursions such as watching my kids' basketball games, drama performances and the like.

There was no venturing out to fish. To hunt. To check trail cameras or just walk in the woods. The snow was deep enough that I simply wouldn't/couldn't go. And the temps made otherwise "fun" winter outings a pain in the rear. There are those who scoff at such conditions. To them, I say "Have at it. But I ain't going." I will endure all manner of weather during deer season. In fact, I welcome it. But to shiver for a coyote? To endure for a few bluegill? On occassion, sure. But not on a regular basis. Give me a few weeks of winter. And then go away.

So, I lie in bed and wonder: Now what?

Deer season is my season. It is the time I look forward to most. It's the one thing that I feel like I can own, that I can do my way. Deer hunting defines me. And it's not an altogether terrible definition. Deer care not that I'm awkward, asocial or weird. I like that very much.

It begins in August with preseason scouting and trail camera efforts. Starts to pick up in September and gains steam through October.

Then comes November. And I am happy. Truly, completely happy.

For a month, deer hunting will consume me. Every minute of every day is about whitetails, even more so than during the rest of the year.  By December, I'm nearly spent, but the season isn't over yet and I can't allow myself to stay away too long.

I hunt December hard. Sure, I hunt differently than in November but I'm still at it in a big way.

The season builds like a Lake Erie wave during a July thunderstorm. Chop becomes rollers. The rollers gain steam, the distance between each shortens. And somehow it's one 5-footer after the other. You almost don't even notice how quickly the intensity built. Chop, chop, boom.

And then it's gone.

January 1 arrives. The sun sets on deer season. Very soon after the trade show frenzy kicks off and I go from being a deer hunting bum to an exceptionally busy media member. 

The transition is a good one because it doesn't allow me to reflect on the reality that is, the reality that deer season has come to a close.

Right now, we are between shows. The ATA show just ended. The SHOT Show begins in a few days. 

I'm home. It's cold. And deer season is done.

I have no shortage of tasks to complete. I'm thankful for the job that I have, thankful for the pile of work and accompanying deadlines.

If I ever do run out of office work (which may happen in 2080), there's an ever-growing list of jobs to complete around the house. Nearly 10 years ago I added an addition. I still haven't finished all of the trim work. About two years ago, I did a major bathroom remodel. And I still haven't installed the new ceiling light.

Why? Deer season. I need to explain no further than that.

Staying busy isn't a problem. And that's important. Because if I sit idle, if I allow myself time to think, I think about deer.

I think about what I should have done differently this year. What I will do differently next season.

I think about what I need to do as soon as the snow is gone. And what I need to do soon after that. 

And I think about this: I have to wait 259 days, 11 hours, 19 minutes and 23 seconds until it's deer season again.