Traditions are an incredibly important part of our hunting heritage, the anticipated touchstones of decades past that we love to enjoy and pass on to future generations.
When I began hunting more than 40 years ago it was in what I’ve come to learn is, for many folks, a traditional way. My father started me on small game and waterfowl, teaching me about things to look for in the woods, watching the reflection on the water of ducks make the turn instead of turning to face them, sitting still to listen for chattering squirrels or how to wait for the right shot on a dove.
When I got older I joined him on some deer hunting weekends. He was in a club with a few other men. We had a ramshackle but warm camphouse, communal dining table with good grub, no television — we actually talked, or they did (and I listened) — and no frills. We hunted from sunrise to sunset, ate lunch in the woods, didn’t shoot does — this was back in the early ’80s when Alabama had limited “doe days” — and had fun.
One tradition was daubing a little blood on a hunter’s face after he killed his first deer. Another was to cut off the shirt tail of a hunter who missed a deer. Both of those, and others, can be found scattered throughout the country. It’s part of the fabric of what makes up the hunting community, no matter where you go or what you hunt for.
We recently asked on Facebook for some of our fans’ favorite traditions. Here they are:
Kevin Wenrich Here is a strange tradition for you. We always said if you didn’t eat cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving Dinner, no buck for you! So we laughed every year but we ate our cranberry sauce. And the young hunters always ate more.
Tony Nault Our season is in its last week. I’ve got one more shift to work and then I’m off for 5 days. My son is coming out to hunt. Our latest tradition is to get up at 5:00 and get out to our posts before first light. Sun up is about 8:00. We hunt all day and then our evenings are spent playing cribbage by the wood stove after supper. A few beer and early to bed to start over. If we get one early in the day we get it home and skin and half it, to hang till we can process it. We dine on tenderloin the night of our success. It is a little late this year but we have both been very busy.
Shane Warner Son, brothers, nephew all gathering at our hunting camp at 4:30 am for a breakfast fit for a king, in stands by 6:30, back at camp for lunch then back out for afternoon hunt. Come back to warm up for dinner that my other brother made and repeat every day!
Ben Olcott Tomahawk, Wisconsin, venison feed on Friday before opening day, spaghetti feed with friends and family on Monday, and whoever gets deer brings loins to be cooked. Good conversation and beer, great times to remember.
Chris Anderson Having my son up at camp is the best ever! Coming back for lunch is always good. Gotta love deer camp.
Ken Lindstrom My brother I grow beards for the season! Our late father and grandpa told us it is bad luck to shave before a hunt. I got 3 whitetail deer this season.
Jim Baker Getting to go see and hang out with my dad, James, is the best part of any hunt.
Gary Wajda We always eat lunch out in the woods. You can’t shoot a deer sitting at the table!
Lowell Saunders Light that fire! Sit back! Relax!