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|Deer fever begins to hit hard|
By James Foster - Times & Transcript Staff
One notable thing about the decline in the deer herd is that most of the deer hunters left in this province are pretty hard core.
You know they are dedicated when they will readily admit that they'll do anything for a buck.
Over the years there's been a growing trend of deer hunters lugging old campers into the bush to stay in the woods for a week or more. You know you probably have deer fever when the cost of your camper and the truck to haul it equals what you paid for your house.
You for sure have deer fever when your wife warns that if you leave for the camp again this weekend, she won't be there when you get back, and all you can think of is that you're free to hunt deer the entire season.
You've got deer fever real bad when you start checking the weather forecast on Sept. 24 for Oct. 24. And you actually trust what it says.
You know you've got deer fever when you finally admit to yourself that this type of fever is incurable, but you can find relief by sitting in your deer blind a week or more before the season opener, unarmed. Which you do. Often.
You're surely a victim of deer fever when you get married on Oct. 22 because your collective agreement at work gives you the following week off for the honeymoon - which you use to go hunting. Yes, I've done this. Yes, I'm divorced. No, I'm not proud. Not my fault. Deer fever.
A sure sign of deer fever is having your camper ready to go two weeks before deer season but you spend all of the pre-season weekend in it, in your own back yard.
Deer fever is at play when you're too busy to fix those dangerous wooden stairs leading to your front door at home because you're building stairs to your tree blinds.
When your bait pile keeps disappearing overnight, it's deer fever that compels you to spend $50 on a bear licence, even though you don't want to hunt bear, don't want a bear rug, have no use for a bear mount and don't particularly care for bear meat.
You know you are in the throes of a deer fever attack when you dream about deer hunting only to wake up cursing out loud in the realization that you have to go to work.
And finally, you know deer fever has finally passed when you dream about being at work, and awaken to find yourself securely strapped into your tree stand. Been there, done that. Twice.
Two readers have emailed me interesting questions this week. One wants to get into hunting but has no mentor and doesn't have a clue where to begin. I suspect this fellow is not alone by a long shot.
The very first step is to call your local DNR station right away to get on the list for the two courses that you should take in order to hunt: your firearms course and your hunter-safety course, which are often given at the same time. The firearms course will allow you to acquire and possess your own guns; the hunter-safety course is just as it sounds - how to safely and ethically hunt. These courses are not given often, so it's important to call right away. In the Metro Moncton phone book, you'll find the number on Page 10 of the blue pages of your phone book. They'll eventually set a date for your course and let you know in advance. Typically, the courses take a full weekend, or a full week of evening sessions.
If that sounds like a lot of hassle to go through to shoot varmints and pop cans, well, it is. It is also why this province has gone from multiple hunting accidents during some hunting seasons long ago, to one of the safest places in North America in which to hunt. Even if you used to hunt a lot years ago, you will still learn a lot at these courses. And if you are a raw rookie, these sessions will provide you with the basic knowledge you need to get started in a life-long pursuit that enriches the mind, body and soul like few other pastimes can.
The other reader isn't sure he wants to get into hunting because he isn't sure he will find enjoyment in taking the life of a living being.
Experienced hunters will have a wry smile on their faces after reading this, because, as hard as it is to explain to newbies, killing for many of us is not at all the point.
I don't know anyone who has quit hunting because they weren't bringing home any meat for the table, but I do know dozens of hunters who do come home without game in their bags and can't wait to do it again after experiencing a day (or a week, or more) in the fresh air, stumbling on fascinating places where humans haven't tread in decades, having a weasel dance at your feet, watching a mouse scramble back and forth over your boot, being startled by a chickadee landing on your head, feeling the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up as a screech owl screams in the darkness two arms' lengths away, enjoying the same old tales around the campfire that you heard last fall and the fall before that, cooking lunch on an open fire, becoming fundamentally changed after several days of introspection while in total solitude deep in the forest, using your knowledge of how to tramp the bush for miles and get out again in one piece - and these are just a few parts of the total hunting experience - you will eventually come to realize that maybe, just maybe, killing something isn't what you were trying to do after all.
Most new hunters don't yet realize this. Few experienced hunters don't.
If all you want is good meat on the table, go to Rinzler's. You'll save a pot of money and a ton of bother.
* James Foster is a Times & Transcript reporter and avid outdoorsman. His column appears on Friday.