I’m often amazed each fall at the many strategies deer hunters employ in pursuit of the whitetail. After observing hunters in action for nearly four decades, I’ve concluded the actions most deer hunters take in the woods can be compared to one or more popular board games. Here’s what I mean:
Some deer hunters hunt deer like they play CHECKERS. They look for a hunt where the rules of the game are kept rather simple and the strategy to win is hardly complex. In other words, when this deer hunter takes to the woods they don’t dwell on strategy so much as they figure sooner or later good things will come their way as long as they’re in the woods playing the game.
Completely opposite is the deer hunter who hunts like they play CHESS. This hunter understands the importance of being one step ahead of the opponent (or deer, in this case). They enter the hunt with a well conceived game plan that has been formulated after several months of careful study and planning. The chess-playing deer hunter only achieves satisfaction when the king deer is brought to checkmate so the hunt concludes with a decisive victory.
Of course, there are also the hunters who hunt deer like they play CHINESE CHECKERS. These are hunters who lack the patience to sit still as they always seem to be on the move through the woods. For this type of hunter action is the name of the game. They figure if they move around enough they are bound to observe deer—especially when the deer seem to be sitting tight. Hunters who pursue deer this way can be either helpful or a hindrance to the rest of us playing a different deer hunting game.
Unfortunately, I know far too many deer hunters who hunt deer like they play CANDY LAND. To this type of deer hunter the fascination is more the journey and not necessarily the destination. This hunter gets wrapped up in the excitement of buying all the latest hunting gadgets—scent free clothing, high-tech guns or bows, treestands, decoys, you name it. The Candy Land deer hunter places great emphasis on all the tangible, touchable aspects of the hunt.
Then there’s the deer hunter who hunts like they play the game SORRY. For this sort of deer hunter it’s seemingly a mad dash to get out of the woods and back to camp (or the truck). What’s important is not how long they stayed in the treestand, rather, it’s simply the fact they made it out in the woods at all. In essence, this type of deer hunter is usually satisfied simply to have donned the blaze orange and to have been in the woods for even a short amount of time.
It’s likely we all know the deer hunter who chooses to hunt as though they’re playing MONOPOLY. This hunter takes special pleasure in securing as much private land as possible so only their family and friends may hunt it. Unfortunately, the negative nature of this deer hunter hinges on the exclusivity aspect of what one hunter holds over another.
And finally, the hunter who deer hunts as if they’re playing SCRABBLE knows how to make the best of the situation at hand. Through years of experience, they’ve discovered how to study the woods carefully before making the next strategic hunting move. Deer rubs, scrapes and other tell-tale sign all has a point value determining how this hunter ultimately makes the next hunting decision. And while this hunter might rely on luck to a certain extent, this deer hunter also achieves success only by learning how to out-score the opponent.
The point I’m trying to emphasize is each hunter taking to the deer woods is likely motivated by playing a different personal game. How one hunter achieves satisfaction through the deer hunting experience is not necessarily the same way another hunter will appreciate it.
At times we may not even like the way another hunter plays their particular deer hunting game. And that’s okay. Yet, through tolerance and understanding it’s important to accept how one of the great fascinations about the sport of deer hunting is the unique manner in which we annually come together to enjoy it.
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.