A “Rite of Passage”

Deer hunting has been a part of our lives for many years. Chris alone has tagged more than 70 deer over the past 22+ years of our marriage. We rely on the tasty meat to fill our freezer and look forward to each year’s hunt. We even close our doors each year for the opening day of rifle season – which, at our house, is about as exciting as Christmas!! Whether it’s archery or rifle, each hunt is enjoyed to the fullest even when deer are scarce. Something about just getting away from the daily routine and watching a sunset or sunrise from the woods. Birds are singing, squirrels chatter, and from across the way, turkeys call to one another. If you’re lucky, you may even see a coon or bobcat!

For our boys, who’ve grown up around hunters, there’s nothing like the feeling of getting their tags! Tags mean you’re officially ready for the hunt. It means you’ve joined a class of society that speaks their own special language. A hunting tag represents the right to tell your own story of the illusive big one that inevitably “got away”. And when you’ve done all you can do, you get your own chance to take another deer down.

Sadly, much has changed over the years. Technology has changed the course of nearly everything – yes, even deer hunting. We miss the days of “check in”. When you drove to the designated location to show off your trophy and tell your story. The camaraderie and friendly rivalry shared at the check-in is a part of conservation’s past.

Tag sales are becoming a part of that past as well. As hunters are directed to apps and websites for tag purchases, we are no longer given the opportunity to see their smile and their eyes light up in anticipation of the hunt. And while some still chose to use the paper tag, most have switched to the hand held device: a smart phone. That app now allows a tag to be purchased and the deer checked in.

Thankfully, our boys have had the pleasure of purchasing a tag that comes like a “rite of passage”. The pride and anticipation they feel as they sign those tags can’t be found in an electronic device. Today was a big day for them as we printed off those tags and they carefully signed them. Youth season, held the last weekend of October, gives the younger generation a chance at the big bucks before the more experienced hunters take them down. The boys are ready. They anxiously await those early morning hours to hear Daddy say “Boys, let’s go hunting”!

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