I have been blessed with many out-of-doors traditions. Being raised by a family of hunters and fishermen provided me the experiences that developed my love for the outdoors. My adult life has also provided me the opportunity to learn and develop new traditions. I've shared my love of the out-of-doors and many of the traditions with my family. Recently one of my daughters and I had a discussion about these traditions and how interesting it would be to learn about and share those traditions that are part of the outdoorsmens' lives throughout our great country. While I've heard, and, through outdoor channels and internet sites, seen examples of out-of-door traditions, it would be most interesting to learn first hand what kind of traditions exist out there that sportsmen have grown up with and continue to maintain. To that end I'll challenge those of you who visit my blog to share your own traditions with me to share in future blogs. Leave me a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traditions. You can also tweet us @csssports.
Here are my Hunting traditions:
1. The New York Family Hunting Camp Traditions: My first recollection was of my dad packing up his gear and wrapping it all in a heavy wool blanket. I remember crying for my dad to take me with him to deer camp. He explained I was too young, but promised my day would come. I anxiously awaited his return to hear stories of the success of the hunt. When my day finally came I was excited as we drove to my grandfather's house to meet other family members and friends to drive to camp. While I had been to camp many times, it was never as part of deer camp. A cousin I grew up with and I both made our first trips to deer camp together. The first order of business was fetching water from a cold mountain stream and my cousin and I were tasked with the job. I remember the talk around the table as the elders played cards about past hunts and hunting seasons. I hardly slept as I awaited my first hunt. For the first several years I was too young to carry a gun, so my cousin and I followed our dads through the woods. We hunted state land and our hunts consisted of deer drives toward watchers. The idea was to "push" deer to awaiting standers. Once in a while deer would try to slip back around the drivers. It didn't matter who harvested deer from the drives; it was shared. Particularly enjoyable was the first meal; fresh deer liver, fried with onions and served with boiled potatoes. I spent the first years of my hunting learning the territory, the hunts, and the traditions of family hunting.
2. The Texas Hunting Traditions: I was blessed with the opportunity to work in Texas, where I met my wife. While her family had very limited hunting traditions, my brothers-in-law quickly came to understand my passion for deer hunting. They arranged for me to experience deer hunting, Texas style. I was fascinated by the idea of sitting in an elevated "box blind", overlooking narrow senderos that had been laced with corn, and awaiting the arrival of the deer. I was amazed at how in one moment there was nothing, then out of the thick mesquite came many deer. I took my best buck at that time sitting in a box blind. It was after a night spent in an old ranch house that saw us eating fajitas, sitting in our short sleeved shirts while cooking over an open fire. The middle of the night saw a "blue northerner" arrive and temperatures dropping some 40 degrees. What a wake up. I have since experienced and enjoyed many such Texas style hunts.
3. Southern Hunting Traditions: I moved my family many times over my work career. One such move took us to Alabama. We were blessed living next to an older couple who looked after us like their children. The gentleman of the house was a deer hunter and belonged to a large "hunting club" in the western side of the state. You can imagine my elation when he offered to take me on a hunt. He made me aware of the need to have a shotgun for the hunt and that I would be hunting with buckshot. We drove to the camp the morning of the hunt and I was amazed at what I saw. A camp that accommodated some 40 plus hunters in the sleeping quarters, a dining area where over 60 people could sit around to eat and platters of eggs, biscuits, grits, bacon, ham, sausage and pots of coffee. Wow, this was deer hunting like I had never experienced before. We gathered at the porch, some 80 plus hunters, to await the call to attention by the "hunt master". A kennel with over 40 hounds, anxiously awaiting the hunt, was a short distance from the main lodge. We drew numbers for our stand, were assigned bus numbers that would drop us off at our appointed location and received a briefing of the rules of safety. The sound of the hounds balling and baying as they scented and ran deer made my heart pound. This was different than anything I had experienced before, but was an exciting tradition that has existed for generations in the south. I have had a number of opportunities during my time in Alabama to experience the tradition of southern dog hunting.
To be continued...