The Dreaded Deer Hunting Season
Some people think you can only experience culture shock when going from one country to another, but moving from the city to the country, and I suppose visa versa, is a culture shock as well.
There’s no other time of year that points that out to us more than fall.
This past weekend was the beginning of open hunting season here. As a local newspaper column lamented, it either draws the excitement compared only to that of a child on Christmas morning, or it is the most dreaded weekend of the year.
For us, it is the latter.
The first year my aunt lived here, hunters, who were then allowed to run their dogs anywhere they were chasing deer, including on private property, threatened to come back and burn down her house when she told them they weren’t allowed to hunt her 40 acres.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not using this forum to start a debate against hunting. I’m just particularly against the BAD hunters, and we seem to have a lot of them.
My friend, whose husband hunts, tells me there are a lot of good hunters – and that might be – but it hasn’t been our experience.
It seems as if the hunting season lasts forever here. First, there was the opening of bow hunting season, and then muzzle loading season. We’ve been opening the newspaper for a month now, treated to photos of various slaughtered animals, some bloody with their tongues hanging out the sides of their mouths, all with a smiling hunter (usually a child) proudly holding up the head of their first “harvest.”
Now starts the open gun season, which is by far the worst.
Early on Saturday morning of the first day of the open gun season, we’re awakened by 4-wheelers and truck traffic blazing up and down our usually quiet dirt road. Usually not long after dawn, the sounds of gunshots pierce the air.
While our family owns the 50 acres adjacent to our property on both sides of the road, there is some land at the end of the road that is owned by the government and open to hunters.
While that land is over a mile away, our dogs are kept prisoner, not even allowed out off leash on our own property, as our land abuts U.S. Corps of Engineers property toward the lake, and while hunters aren’t supposed to be shooting within 500 yards of homes, the laws don’t seem to matter for some.
Hunters are no longer allowed to run dogs in chase of deer in Arkansas, but in just the past two years we’ve lived here, we’ve picked up numerous beer and pop cans and plastic bottles and even some beanie weenie cans along the side of our road during hunting season. After one of the big dogs, Emma, went missing one evening and we set out to find her, she greeted us at the end of our driveway with a severed deer head in her mouth, the deer’s antlers having been sawed off by presumably the person who killed him. The landscape is strewn with the remains of the hunt and if the buzzards flying around don’t find them first, our dogs will.
Our neighbors homes have been broken into, their freezers and pantries raided, and their fishing and billiards equipment stolen.On one occasion, someone actually even slept in their bed.
Trying to be extra vigilant in keeping an eye on our neighbors houses on the weekends they aren’t here, we try to take more walks toward that end of the road, and each year, our dogs usually find some human excrement to roll in (as one did last night and we had to give her a bath outside with the hose when we arrived home).
One day a couple of years ago, while waiting our turn to launch at the boat dock, about a half dozen guys boarded a boat meant for probably at least half that capacity. They had guns and a cooler.
Another man waiting to launch told us that they will go to a point on the lake and let at least half the guys off. They will then go up into the woods and round the deer down to the point, where the remaining men in the boat shoot them. Worse, if they see a deer in the water getting a drink, they will lasso it and pull it out in the lake until it drowns. Both practices are supposed to be illegal, but so is night hunting, and we saw at least a half dozen cars pulled off to the side of the road between here and town on Saturday night.
Calling the game and fish warden will get him out here, maybe, within a week.
I suppose there are GOOD hunters, who follow the rules of the sport and we just don’t know about them because they do, but it is the BAD hunters who make us wonder why this sport is still legal in any populated areas, and make us dread this time of year.
Have you experienced culture shock having moved to any other part of the same country? Or do you have your own hunting story?