It’s almost the end of fall semester, and that means I’ll be intensely busy for the next 3-4 weeks grading projects and presentations. But it’s not all about the students.
The semester’s end overlaps the white-tailed deer hunting seasons in New York and Pennsylvania — my call of the wild. It means I no longer have weekends for grading papers or preparing lessons. I must head to the woods in search of God’s creatures.
I’ve been chasing whitetails in Pennsylvania since 1965, the year I turned 12 and qualified for my first hunting license. My grandfather gave me his .35 Remington a few years later. It has 6 notches on the forearm to mark his deer kills dating back to the early 1940s.
Hunters didn’t shoot a lot of deer back then, as there were damned few around. But I’m told Grandpap and his miner pals had quite a time at their hunting camp near Bradford, Pa.
New York deer came into my sights in 1988 when my friend Blair invited me to his camp near Allegany. I’ve been dropping in nearly every year since, including this past weekend.
The woods were eerily quiet Saturday, with not more than 20 shots fired in or around Cherry Valley all day. Have the deer moved to better feeding grounds? Maybe. But so have the hunters.
Hunting is a dying sport. Long a blue collar tradition, hunting has declined along with the labor population. Few of our knowledge workers are socialized into the sport these days, and firearms training isn’t high on parent’s to-do lists.
With few folks living on farms or in rural areas, fewer have access to hunting land or any day-to-day exposure to wildlife. In my native Pennsylvania, sales of hunting licenses are down 9% over the past decade. The median age of hunters, I’m told, is approaching 50.
(Update: Could be I was wrong about the “dying sport” thing. My friend Blair sent me this link from yesterday’s NYT. Enjoy “The Urban Deerslayer.”)
Venison is pretty much the only read meat we consume in our house. It tastes better than beef, and it’s way better for you. It’s low in fat and contains no growth hormones or antibiotics. It also comes with no “factory farm” guilt. The meat in my freezer roamed the planet freely until stepping into the crosshairs of my .308 Winchester.
I’d like to tell you there’s a social-media or a PR lesson in this post. But I can’t locate the metaphor. It’s just one of those weeks when my mind isn’t on PR. It’s in in a tree stand in Western Pennsylvania — at least until December 12.
And since Pennsylvania doesn’t allow Sunday hunting, we also get to watch the Steelers game. Life is good.