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?

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17 Responses

  1. Kenda Alexander says:

    Up to this point I have truly enjoyed your blog. What grieves me is your lack of thorough research on this whole subject. Unfortunately you have been exposed to a few “bad apples” who give all hunters a bad name. My husband and I have hunted for years and it is part of our sustainable living. We use every part of the animals we take. We live on less financially with our children than most Americans believe possible. All so we can commit our lives to helping youth. We have many friends who hunt and many who do not and we all live very peacefully together. Every hunter we know is very respectful of the gift of food they harvest each year and are the real reason conservation of wildlife even exists. I challenge any non hunter to understand the wilderness and animals the way a true hunter does. You can’t help but be reverent and knowledgeable of that which supplies your need. I am sorry you have had bad experiences but it is irresponsible to suggest all hunters are even remotely connected to these behaviors. Our experience here in the remote west has been the Eastern Americans and Californian suburbians who cause all the problems such as you describe. Please don’t lump all hunters together with your limited exposure and experience.

    • Hi, Kenda, Welcome to Living Large! I’m glad you are enjoying the posts and I’m sorry if you perceived this as an attack on all hunters,but I clearly state in my post: “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.” We too, have many friends and family who hunt with whom we co-exist peacefully. Most of them follow the rules, but some of them even don’t. I am a journalist. However, these blog posts aren’t meant to be researched, non-biased articles on any given subject. These are my experiences (which are hardly limited since my family has been living here in the thick of it and dealing with hunting seasons since 1997). Unfortunately, yes, this is what we’ve experienced here. Just the other day, I once again had to call the fish and game because someone was hunting behind our property, well within the 500 yard barrier. I’m glad you have found a way to live that fits your life. I wish there were more hunters like you who follow the rules and also help educate the ones who don’t.

    • Richard Wilt says:

      Kendra – I agree with you that I could never understand the wilderness and animals through the scope of a hunting rifle the way a true hunter does. I imagine viewing your “harvest” that way is quite different from the experience I gleem from looking into their eyes as they graze in my back meadow. I can’t imagine practicing “conservation of wildlife” by participating in an annual ritualistic slaughter. We would not consider that a proper or moral solution to the problem of human overcrowding, so why is it a proper solution to wildlife overcrowding created by the ever-expansive nature of humans. Several years ago I came to the realization that God gave humans the power of choice in the belief that as humans became civilized they would choose to value wildlife as fellow inhabitants of this planet, not as food and clothing. It is evident from your post that we have a long way to go before we become truly civilized.

  2. This was a such a difficult post for me to read. I guess I should have expected hunting season would come to the Little House neck of the woods…but I’ve been so taken with your other posts I didn’t think of it until now. So sad, but then these are the realities. What an excellent subject to write about – perhaps a longer piece.

  3. Ed says:

    I believe this would be illegal, as you would be hunting over a baited field. The steel jawed traps sound better, just wipe off the prints and wear gloves.

  4. MarthaandMe says:

    This is all horrendous. The neighbors next to our old house, in a rural area, were hunters and every year there would be a deer hanging from their front tree. I hated having to see that.

    We live in a suburban area now but there are still hunters around. We just fenced our backyard and no longer have to worry about one of our dogs running off and getting hurt.

    Every time I see the deer crossing the road I tell them to run.

  5. Mo says:

    Wow, that behavior would infuriate me. I’ve heard of such things but it has not been our experience. Our hunting seasons begin as early as August 1st (for Bears) and go into January so we have months of exposure to hunters, none could even compare to the yahoos you have described. I’m just over 200 yards away from National Forest too and have big blocks of State land around me too.

    What you describe sounds like ‘Spring Break’ with guns, it certainly isn’t hunting by any definition I’m familiar with.

    A bunch of drunk guys lassoing a deer is hard for me to believe…

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, it is all the truth, Mo. I asked my husband about the roping of the deer and he said it is when they are out in the water quite a ways, maybe swimming from one shoreline to another. Barbaric, if you ask me.

  6. It’s rifle hunting season here too. We keep to the road and away from open hunting areas. In CO, people cannot hunt on private property without permission, so we’re always happy to see the deer and elk hanging around the house.

    A neighbor alerted me on Facebook (rather than calling) that a huge BUCK was in our pasture Sunday. We missed it, but we hope he is still safe today.

    • Kerri says:

      It’s illegal to hunt on private property without permission here too. I just don’t think some people have grasped the meaning of illegal.

  7. Hunting is pretty big in parts of Arizona but I’m not one who could shoot an animal myself. I just couldn’t do it. I once stayed at a cabin near the Mogollon Rim owned by a hunter, and the one thing I remember most about the place is the animal heads. They were everywhere, hung over the fireplace, in the hallways, and one was hung on the wall right in front of the guest room toilet. If you were a man, that’s what you’d stand face-to-face with every time you used it–a dead deer head. Nice. Sit down, and he stares at your back. It wigged me out.

    • Kerri says:

      I agree. Creepy. Did you ever see the old television show, I think it was called “Night Gallery,” where the animals got their revenge and the heads of the hunters ended up on the walls!?

  8. Kerri says:

    Very creative, Kathy. Maybe around here, we could use some of the steel jawed traps hunters are still allowed to use. 🙁

  9. Kathleen Winn says:

    Kerri- we’ve experienced much of the same inconsiderate and even downright illegal behavior of hunters, at our land in Cass County. We bought our property to provide peace and quiet in a rural setting, but this time of year we might as well be in a crack house in the ghetto for all the gunfire that surrounds us there.

    It really gets my goat when they litter our land with beer cans and shotgun shells. If they’re going to poach off of our property, you’d think they could at least clean up after themselves. I have become so disgusted and angry with hunting season that I came up with a plan to catch poachers.

    A few miles from our property, there is a large cat sanctuary- one of those places that rescues large cats like mountain lions and even tigers and lions, from the idiots who get them as babies and try to raise them as pets. My idea is to dig a deep hole, borrow a big cat and put it in there, then let it get a little hungry. Next, I would cover the hole with branches and dried grass to camouflage it. The finishing touch- I’ll put a six pack of Budweiser on top and wait for Joe Hunter to come along. Hee, hee! What do you think?