Mentally speaking, it's always deer season.
When it comes to deer season we never stop looking at our watches. Deer hunting, whether it's firearms season or archery season, is on our brains 24/7 and there are no other alternatives. We're a slave to terms like antlerless deer, antler-point restriction, and chronic wasting disease, but it's whitetail deer hunting that raises our blood pressure.
Once we license holders get our greedy little hands on a deer tag, it's off to trim around our treestand or check on our archery equipment. But you know as well as I do that that stuff is already being done. Is it because we're just so diligent? Or do we just not know how to let it go during the offseason?
Well, it's a little of both because our deer hunting brains never stop revolving those gears in our heads that tell us how much we miss it during the hot summer months. Plus, it seems, that everything we do and everywhere we go, something is there to plant the idea into our heads again and again.
How it happens can be very understated and, at times, can have all the subtlety of a runaway truck. Here's why we never stop believing that it's deer season:
1. The displays are in our face already
As modern Christmas shoppers know, the advertisements start immediately after the Fourth of July and don't stop until the Super Bowl. It's much the same for deer hunters. Row upon row of scent inducing or scent stopping products suddenly begin to show themselves on the shelves of tractor and farm supply stores, not to mention places like, say, every single one of our favorite hunting outfitters.
2. Those glowing eyes and velvet antlers
Even in July and August (when the smaller bucks are showing some great signs of life in their horns) we still look at the picture and mentally put the crosshairs on the spot that we would pull the trigger. Thankfully, the main beam is still the main reason why we wait.
3. We wonder if our tree climber would go up that 70-footer in the park
While most Department of Natural Resources Officials frown upon placing a treestand above that hiking trail in your local park, there's no law against fantasizing about it. Your hunting permit my not allow you to do it, but you can think about how many deer pass that spot every day.
4. Camping just makes you think about deer hunting
Even on the shores of your favorite fishing lake, you still scan the opposite shore for signs of movement. A lucky few even get to see a deer swimming across that lake, causing a sudden drop in fishing equipment and rise in blood pressure.
5. Portables, ladder stands, and blinds just mysteriously went on sale
Well, we all know that it's no mystery, but when it's still 90-plus degrees outside you kind of expect to walk out of there with pool chlorine and grass seed, not a pop-up blind and a shooting stick. But we do.
6. Braving the poison ivy just to look at your treestand
It's still a jungle out there, but damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, because you just have to know that all is well out there! You can barely see the thing through the vines and green leaves, but if your stand could act like your dog after you've been away, it would jump on you and lick your face.
7. You put the GoPro under the bird feeder just so you can have footage of something
Even watching a little buck munching leftover bird seed gives us a rise in our temperature and a reason to think about deer hunting. Seeing how nervous just a bit of wind makes him reminds us of how differing conditions make our hunt more enjoyable and, yet, sometimes less successful.
8. Every sunset looks like the night before the opener
Especially right before archery deer season--the first deer hunting of the year--our eyes start getting affixed to the low light as if something is coming. Our ears begin to focus more on small sounds and start to try and pick out one sound from another. Unfortunately, at this time of year, it's usually just the dogs nails clicking on the vinyl floor.
9. You walk into that dead-tree swamp at sunset just to listen
Let's face it- you can only hang on in there for a minute thanks to the bugs, but just knowing that soon they'll be gone is enough to get your heart pumping. The sound of deer walking through the water is just a memory, but they're still using it and you'd just like to see one.
You know, for old time's sake.
10. You just have to see that monster rub from last year one more time
This one from last fall was the subject of another story, but it's still there even though the scar is healing on that big maple tree. The forest is full of deer sign from previous years and plenty of fresh sign from this year as well. It's a lot more difficult to see now while it's still hot and dry; hoof prints just don't show as well and trails are completely buried in the jungle, but the deer are still there.
Kudos to all those trucks we've been seeing parked along the woods for the past few weeks! Season dates and hunting regulations have long since been released. We all have our big game hunting license by now and are well aware of the bag limit. We know our management zone and the lines between private land and public land. We already know that we can harvest a deer of either sex and what the legal methods are, it's just that it's not quite opening day yet!
Hunting seasons and antlered deer aside, our hunting areas are waiting for us. With deer permit in hand, we'll never be happier than we are when we're finally walking into the deer woods, when deer hunting seasons are in full swing everywhere!