Familiarity Breeds… ?

April 9, 2013

Barn pasture tomI had a sort of semi-revelatory conversation the other day.

I was shooting the breeze with my friends, Carl, who owns the smokehouse, and Keith, who owns the local hardware store.  As such conversations go, we spanned the gamut of topics from local news to weather, to the recent (brief) upturn in local business.  And, of course, it came to hunting and bringing some meat in to be processed.  Carl and co. make some awesome sausage!

So Keith mentioned that he started to shoot an axis the other morning, but it was drizzling rain and a little cool, so he held off.  “I’ll get one later,” he said with a nonchalant confidence.  “When the weather is nicer.”

It got me thinking.

For the past week or so, a pair of hens, a jake, and a tom turkey have been making the rounds in my barn pasture.  I called a little on Saturday, and the tom fired right up, but since we were out there riding the horses, I put the call away and left him alone.  They show up at almost the same time every morning, and work the same general route into the pasture, up past the barn, and then back down… feasting on the glut of grasshoppers, and picking through the leftover hay where I’d been feeding the horses.  They’re almost like clockwork.  I even slipped out the back door with the Benjamin Marauder the other morning, but decided not to try the 30 yard shot because… well, I don’t know why.  I just didn’t feel the urge to kill the bird.

I figured it’ll be more fun later, maybe, to try to call him in and then kill him.  Or maybe I’ll just let him be this year.  I’ve got birds in the freezer already.  And Kat doesn’t seem overly inclined to go after him.  Let them breed and maybe next season there’ll be a bigger group.  Or maybe later this season, I’ll get more motivated to go for him.  Or Kat will decide she wants to try him.  It’s hard to say.

If I look back at this past deer season, I had some similar thoughts.  Sure, I killed a few deer, but I also let an awful lot of them walk.  On a bunch of days, I didn’t even hunt… which is sort of a strange thing for me when I think about it.  I kept the feeder running, and the cameras showed me a lot of deer.  There were even a couple of decent bucks coming and going.  But I just didn’t feel the need to get out there at every opportunity.

There’ll be more opportunities.

That was the “revelation”.

Folks who live out here start (fairly quickly) to take the wild bounty sort of for granted.  Why freeze your ass off in a frosty stand, or sit miserable through a rainy morning, when you can go out almost any day and fill a tag?  I always sort of wondered at how complacent folks are around here when they see a big herd of axis deer, or a flock of 40 or 50 turkeys loafing in a pasture.  These are things that once got my blood boiling and my trigger finger twitching.  But now the realization that they’re always right out there for the picking has sort of tempered that flame.

It’s not that I don’t still get excited about the hunt, because I do.  And when I’m on the stand, even within sight of my own back door, I’m 100% in the game.  But I’ve noticed the excitement is usually highest when it’s about hunting something I can’t get right here behind the house.  When I spotted that hog on the game camera, I was stoked… at least until I realized he’d only been there once in almost two months.  When Kat told me a group of axis had trotted down the road in front of the house, I got a little fired up.  I’d like to put another axis in the freezer.  Or when my brother and I were talking about doing another elk hunt, I could feel the pulse in my chest.

It’s not earth shattering or life changing or anything like that.  It’s just an interesting realization.



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