What Happens on a Hunt Will Always Make Its Way to the Thanksgiving Table.
The season of Fall brings us apple picking, scenic hikes, and my favorite, cider donuts. But as we enter November, no one tends to enjoy fall quite as much as the hunter.
As Thanksgiving approaches, it is time for every outdoorsman to gather their most intriguing stories to tell around the table. There is nothing like those moments when every family member’s eyes are either rolling or wide open, listening to the great stories from this fall. As we enter the month of November, hunters know this to be one of the most exciting times to be in the woods. It is time for “The Rut,” otherwise known as the time when the bucks are most territorial. Hunters refer to the rut as “The Greatest Show on Earth” because you truly never know what you might see when hunting in nature. During this time, the deer are most vulnerable because they become more active during the daylight hours than other times of the year.
Although not all of us hunt in the Fall, we have all been walking in the woods and have observed the subtle marks of frayed bark on a tree. We get to imagine the image of a buck lowering his antlers to mark his territory, but seldom actually witness it. Hunters have the opportunity to witness these incredible sights that most of us don’t get to see.
Recently I had the chance to catch up with Justin Homburger, an avid hunter from Burnt Hills, who shared an experience he had on a hunt that would get any outdoorsman’s adrenaline pumping. Every hunter knows the feeling of waking up before daybreak or heading out after work, walking to their stand, and silently waiting and listening for the crackling of leaves: the thought that they may soon get their chance to test their marksmanship after months of target practice. Justin, feeling that strong impulse all us outdoorsmen feel, decided to drive three hours to his camp near the Finger Lakes. He walked to his stand at approximately 4 p.m., October 24, for his first sit of the year. It did not take long for him to witness a herd of doe that came and started feeding in the freshly cut corn field he was hunting. Not long after the does entered, a hobbling four-point buck entered the field and began feeding alongside them. All of a sudden, the four-point buck looked up and made a soft, but low roar. Suddenly the does quickly ran off and Justin had thought that the deer had caught wind of his scent. Then in an instant, a large eight pointer ran onto the corn field, which set the stage for a battle of territory between both bucks. Heads to the ground, they locked antlers and began sparring and fighting. The loud crack of antlers could be heard echoing through the field. Before long, the eight-point buck had won the fight leaving the discouraged and hobbling four-pointer to move onto a different area. Justin explained that he was in such awe watching, that he never even thought about taking a shot at either deer that day. He just sat back and watched nature at its finest. I’m pretty sure Justin will be back in no time to settle the score with that eight-pointer.
People tend to think that a successful hunt is judged by the deer you take. This is not always the case as it goes much deeper than that. When hunting, one tries to make themself as unnoticed as possible. For those of us who just walk the woods, we often miss these spectacles of nature. We are a visitor, whereas a hunter has the unique opportunity to blend in and become a part of nature. Hunters get to experience what most of us will only be able to imagine. So when we are gathered together this year for Thanksgiving, the hunters in the family will still most likely be trying to convince you and every relative that they are the most successful. With that being said, hopefully there will be some stories that will show a hunter’s true appreciation of nature’s incredible sights and will be enjoyable to hear. You just may finally hear an answer to why you found a broken antler on your walk in the woods.