Ever since I can remember, Thanksgiving week was all about spending time with family and hunting. My dad, brother and I always looked forward to taking a few extra days off and hitting the woods together. Some years we would be hunting with my grandfather and uncles and some just the three of us. Eager anticipation filled the air as we drank our morning coffee and decided where to sit in hopes of filling a tag. Now living in California, I miss those times greatly. Don't get me wrong. I am thankful spending time with my family here and I wouldn't change a thing, but I do miss the tradition we created in New York. I miss the sights, smells, and landscape that New York offers. I can still hear the leaves scatter as a squirrel annoyingly skirts around my tree and I contemplate letting an arrow fly in his direction.
Many deer have been taken during the week of Thanksgiving and normally we have had a few deer hanging in the barn. While I love the challenge of hunting in California, I love hearing news of when someone in my family is able to fill another tag and this year seems to be my brothers year of filling the freezer! On Wednesday morning, I received a text from my brother, Ben, that he had just killed a big 4-point buck with a 15" spread. I was ecstatic! It's the first deer my brother has ever taken with a rifle. (He's a very proficient bowhunter and a marksman with a shotgun, too.) A few hours later, I received this photo and what a nice looking buck!
My brother was happy to put some more meat in his freezer and to do his part in deer conservation. He's been very successful this year and he and my dad have been logging some long hours in preparation and in the stand. I am very proud of the time they put in and the care they take in the field.
This deer was taken out of a stand location that has produced many deer and is by far one of my favorite set ups. A few years ago, I was in the same area hunting with my brother when a buck walked right by us and without being able to get him to stop, I decided not to release my arrow. Each time I hear about this particular location I can immediately picture it in my mind and I am eager to return!
Being far away from your family and the place your grew up is hard enough, but not being able to hunt like I used to is tough on the mind and soul. I won't lie. I miss the ribbing, the jokes, the focus, the determination, and the tenderloins in the frying pan after a successful kill. That being said, I am thankful that I get to live vicariously through my family. The great thing about technology nowadays is that I can still get the ribbing from my family during hunting season. Whether it be through a video chat or through a text, I remain connected and enjoy the bond we have.
With a month left in the deer hunting season here in California and a few weeks left in NY, I hope there are a few more tags filled on both the East and West coast, but even if they remain blank I know that new memories will have been forged. Memories of highs and lows, new things, familiar things and best of all these memories will last a lifetime.