February 2006
Happy Hunting Ground

Happy Hunting Ground



At this writing, deer season has three weeks left to go. When it ends, we deer hunters will certainly have a problem. What to do for the next ten months?

As usual there are answers to eternal questions like these. There are things we can do to fill the time, at least until turkey season. If you are not a turkey hunter, you will just have to pace yourself so that you do not burn out too soon. Many things that we can do to occupy our time are involuntary and will just happen whether we want it to or not.

As the season draws to a close and finally ends we will all get more sleep because we are not rising before dawn to head out to the field. This means we will be well rested and full of energy. It is at this point where most male hunters will begin to drive their wives crazy. This is one of the "involuntary" things we have in our arsenal against boredom.

We don’t mean to do it we just can’t help it.

They would like for us to help out around the house but they won’t let us because we taught them a long time ago that if they want it done right, they are going to have to do it themselves. (At our house we have "daddy clean" and "mommy clean" and I don’t think I need to tell you the difference.)

They would like us to go out and do some yard work but we can convince them that not only is it too cold but all of the plants are dead and it wouldn’t do any good. We can also convince them that any time out into the yard is wasted because spring is just around the corner and we will really make up for lost time then. As a matter of fact, we tell them, we can’t wait for spring because the weather will be beautiful and the exercise will do us some good. In the back of our minds we are telling ourselves that turkey season will get us out of the line of fire for a while.

Once we have gotten out of that fix, we can do something constructive. Cleaning guns is one good thing to do. Even if you spit shined your rifle before you left deer camp, it can always use another going over. Besides, you can tell your spouse that the time is well spent because you are protecting your family’s investment in the firearm and preserving it for your children/grandchildren (hit ’em where they live guys) and kind of brush a tear from your eye and let your voice crack a little.

You can get your camo together and eventually get it in the wash, say around October, for next season. If you are a turkey hunter you will need to get it washed before then unless you have a separate camo outfit for turkey hunting (lucky devil).

You can collect and polish your fired brass from the season. As you find it, you can relive the memories of each shot whether you hit anything or not.

This is a good point to talk about the positive side of re-loading your ammunition. It is something to do in the off season, you can convince your spouse that you are saving money and it enables you to shoot a lot both in season and out. I used to re-load and there is a very comforting feeling when you are going to the woods with about 100 rounds of precision hand loaded ammunition. Running out of bullets is one thing you won’t have to worry about and now we’re talking lower stress levels and longer life.

Then there is the oldie but goodie, the television. With the advent of outdoor television we can sit in our recliners and go hunting in Texas, Canada, Africa or almost anywhere; just be sure you have plenty of batteries for the remote control. In this type of hunting adventure be aware that there is dangerous game out there, the spouse. As a matter of fact, my wife told me the other day that if she hears another person whispering from a tree on television, she’ll kill me.

Another tip is to be very cautious of the "do it yourself home improvement shows," they can get you into all kinds of work. The best plan on getting to watch these shows is to arrange a compromise with the family. For every hour of home improvement shows, you get an hour of hunting shows. (Hint: if you watch it with your children you can get extra points for quality/bonding time.) If you are very clever, negotiate these hours so that she gets to watch her hours while you are hunting. If you are able to work out this type of deal, be prepared to work for her later on in the year. You can prevent this if you mess it up bad enough when you can’t get out of it.

If you pace yourself and can hang on, you can make it till turkey season. If you are creative and intense in your follow through, you can have her throwing you out of the house at just about the right time to plant spring food plots.

A word of caution, this time period between the end of deer season and the beginning of turkey season is very critical. This is about the time all of the bills from deer season start to pile up. Before you spend money on food plots, gasoline, food, ammunition, clothes, hunting club dues, weapons, gear, etc. it is easy to convince her that you will save a lot on meat. At the end of the season, she knows how much meat was brought home and how much was spent and it’s just a small step to calculating the cost per pound of venison and that can lead to trouble. Hopefully there will be a stout taxidermy bill that will need to be paid but generally you won’t owe that until you get your deer head back and that won’t be before income tax refund time so it is possible to have that one covered. Be sure to fall back on the old, "small price to pay to memorialize such a great experience and a fine animal."

Hopefully this will help the hunter get through the off-season without hurting himself or others.

With regard to those pesky "after deer season" bills you will have to explain, justify or get chastised for, it might be too late this year but next year: Pay cash for as much as possible and toss the receipts.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.