The deer hunting tradition is strong in my family. My dad, mom, grandpa, and uncles all gathered together each fall on the eve of deer hunting season, and we would construct a makeshift camp in the woods. We still do it today. In fact, some of the best memories I have revolve around those few days of the year. It’s a time where we can enjoy the outdoors, hang out around the campfire, tell tall tales about the past, remember loved ones, and just catch up with family.
But many people don’t have that deer hunting tradition. Maybe you didn’t grow up in a rural area or weren’t introduced to hunting until recently. If that’s the case, deer hunting probably has a very different context for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop your own deer hunting traditions.
Get Involved in a Program
There are many programs these days for new hunters, from youth hunters to new adult hunters. Participating in a mentored hunt or hunting class, such as the QDMA Field to Fork program, can introduce you to other new hunters who are likely also eager to develop a hunting tradition. If it’s a good match, continue the relationship outside of the program and keep hunting with one another.
Food = Deer Hunting Tradition
Many good traditions include eating food with friends or family, and hunting traditions are no different. There’s something special about sharing a meal together. I think that’s heightened more when you share a wild game meal, particularly from an animal you killed and butchered.
If you don’t have a deer hunting tradition yet, start by inviting some friends over before the deer season to enjoy a venison stew. Even if they don’t hunt, they will still appreciate the meal and company. And they might even be interested in learning more from you. Make it an annual event and one day, maybe some of them will want to try hunting with you too. That’s how traditions are started.
Take to the Road
If you already have some friends who hunt, ask them to go on a little road trip. It doesn’t matter if it’s a multi-day camping trip or simply a one-day event – whatever works for your schedules. This one also doesn’t have to be a strict deer hunting tradition – upland hunting is a great fit for a road trip with friends.
By picking a new location, you are both starting on an even playing ground and learning about the area together. This is a great learning experience for a new hunter and it can create some fun memories. Camaraderie is an important part of hunting traditions for most people.
After you kill a deer, it’s an emotional experience. Excitement, gratitude, and a little remorse can all pop up. Some people prefer to tackle this step alone, but I’d encourage you to seek help if it’s available. Depending on where and who you deer hunt with, you may not be able to quickly ask friends to come out. But if you’re successful on your next deer hunt and someone is willing to help, it makes the process much easier and enjoyable.
First, having someone else around to help you drag the deer out of the woods is always a good thing. Even smaller does can be draining if you have to drag them far. Likewise, loading them into your vehicle is a real challenge on your own. But beyond the practical issues, having someone with you to share in the experience makes it more memorable. You can retell the story of the hunt, experience the trials of getting the deer out of the woods, and celebrate afterward.
Start a Deer Hunting Tradition
If you don’t have a deer hunting tradition yet, I sincerely hope you can experience it one day. If you have kids or nephews/nieces that are old enough to hunt, please get them involved in a deer hunting camp experience too! By starting them at a young age, they can develop the memories and traditions that will fuel them for the rest of their lives.