November 20, 2008
Dispatch from Michigan
By Kim Hiss
Well, I was planning on doing a news post today, but unless we want to talk about a potential handgun ban in Ireland, a buck breaking into a St. Louis mall or the increase in German boar hunting, I'm changing my mind and putting up a mini-essay that blog reader Judy Black emailed me to share with you. I thought her comments were pretty interesting, so I'm sure you'll join me in thanking Judy for saving us from a "thrilling" discussion about another of today's breaking headlines, like the Associated Press' "Angler numbers drop as hunting season opens" -- shocking!
So, here's Judy's dispatch from whitetail season in Michigan, wherein she mulls the differences between archery and rifle hunting. I realize not all of us are bowhunters, but it's still interesting to think about. -K.H.
Yesterday, while sitting in my blind I got to thinking. While I love to archery hunt, rifle season is all I knew up until 2003 when I got my bow. Even though they are the same sport, they are different in so many ways.
My thought yesterday morning was, when sitting in your tree stand, all of your senses are so much alive. You hear the birds, you hear the young turkeys approaching and you hear the snap of a twig from an approaching whitetail. You smell fall in the air and see every thing that is going on around you, right down to the little chickadee that sits on the branch only inches from your face. It all seems so up close and personal from your front row seat in a tree.
But when you sit in a 6x6 shack with a heater running and windows on three sides, it all changes. There were no birds chirping and the turkeys were directly in front of me before I even knew they were there. The six or eight deer on the south end of my field just seemed to suddenly appear and there was no sound, and no smell. All I could hear was the hum of my propane heater that was keeping me warm, whereas in my tree, it is only the extra layer of clothes that keeps me warm.
My other comparison between the archery whitetail hunt and the rifle was the fact that from my tree it was all about patience… waiting for that deer to come within your shooting range to make the harvest. Whether it is 20 yards or 50 yards, you know your capabilities and you must wait for that animal to enter your “comfort” zone.
Rifle hunting offers you a much bigger “comfort” zone. Last year I shot a buck at 150 yards and I could not have been more excited. That was the first time I had ever shot that far and when people used to talk about a 200-250 yard shot I'd just think no way. But with the guns today, that is not a long distance at all.
But, just as I was having all these thoughts, watching the deer in my field, a blue jay came and sat in the tree outside the window of my blind. I watched as he pecked at the tree and jumped from limb to limb. Pretty soon he started his cawing and soon jays from other trees in the area joined in. I realized that the wildlife is still there, the sounds are still there but from the inside of a blind with the heater running, you just have to wait until they get close enough to experience them. At the same time, two deer ran up behind me and I thought they were going to climb in the blind with me. Something had scared them and they were running so fast and came so close to the blind that I couldn’t even see their bodies under my window, I had to wait until they were past me to see them.
So, same sport but totally different experiences. And with that said, I am going to push in my chair at work and head for the woods. -J.B.