Were you one of the many who shot your Thanksgiving turkey in the woods?

I thought about shooting my Thanksgiving turkey, but it would have upset everyone else in the supermarket, so I abstained.

I haven’t had time to go hunting in a while, but I hope you have, if you’re so inclined.  Last night a cute little fawn ran across my front yard, reminding me that in much of the country, deer season is in full sway. (And no, we don’t want to shoot the baby ones.)

I recently chatted with my young friends Austin and Ashley Gibbons. Ashley’s dad, the late Denny Reichard, was one of my best friends.  He hunted on his own substantial woodland property, and venison was always a staple in the family larder.  Ashley didn’t hunt this year, being busy with their six-year-old twin daughters, but Austin got out some.  A handsome whitetail buck committed “suicide by hunter” by walking within ten paces of Austin, a superb shot, when he was carrying his Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver, and one bullet later had become part of the winter meat supply.  In their county, Austin is allowed two does more this season. 

The twins will grow up with a taste for the finest natural meat.

When I was young I lived to hunt, and this time of year my friends and I greeted each other with “Got your deer yet?”

So, y’all being friends as far as I’m concerned, I’ll ask you the same question.


  1. In my neighborhood of our small town in northwestern Wyoming the local herd of whitetail and mule deer are generally referred to as “hoofed rats”. They eat the shrubs, they eat the flowers, they eat the garden plants, and for me, worst of all, they’ve chewed down every single one of my aspen saplings that they could reach. Then the bucks use the leaf-naked sticks to rub the velvet off their antlers, more often than not breaking the saplings in the process.

    We’re right at the edge of the city limits (within the city) so shooting them isn’t an option. This spring I’m going to stick a bunch of tee-poles in the ground and cut up some 12- or 15-foot lengths of wire fencing to put a 4 or 5 foot diameter fence around each new tree/sapling (HOA rules say no fences in the front yards, but guarding individual trees is okay).

    They’re beautiful animals out in the sagebrush, but they’re a pain in the tuchus in my backyard.

    • My daughter & husband live in Northern NJ not very far from NYC. The deer population is,out of control. It really blossomed when their biggest predator was in absenteeism: Automobiles. During the recent pandemic. They are everywhere. They are essentially tame and,won’t run unless you approach within a couple feet, often even if you have a dog with you. I arrived a couple hours late in November for a chance to harvest a 3 point that got hung up on their new 6 foot fence. He broke his leg and was hung up until the city showed up, put him down and removed him. Hope he went to a food bank but I doubt it. $400 in damage to the fence.

      • Paul S,

        You probably know this. New Jersey Governor Murphy was able to block the annual bear hunt for the past two years. This year he changed his mind, and decided it was time to “thin the herd” of bears. They have been killing dogs, and attacking, without killing, a few humans. A judge was able to block the governor, so it appears there will be no bear hunt in NJ again this year.

        Years ago I read in a newspaper that there should be between 1,000 and 3,000 bears in NJ. Once the population grows beyond 3,000 there are too many negative encounters with humans, their trash cans, and their pets.

        Bear hunting was not allowed in NJ from 1970 until 2003. We always have protesters when the hunt is on. Oddly enough, both Pennsylvania and New York State have always had bear hunts, and have never halted them.

        Yes, in NJ, deer are pets. This began in the 1990s. We hardly ever saw a deer in the 1970s. They wisely roam around suburbia, where they are too close to houses to be shot legally.

        I don’t hunt, but I should. Deer taste good. If I could dress any way I want, I would wear buckskins and a coonskin cap. To me, no clothing looks better than that.

  2. I haven’t had time to hunt these past two years with a new job, but when I lived out in the boonies I made sure to get my tag’s worth. Luckily, my wife’s family have to cull on their property, so we get venison regardless. Merry Christmas all!

  3. I too, lived to hunt when I was a kid but after coming home from
    Nam in 69, it just wasn’t the same. I could quote some guy saying
    that once you’ve hunted man, nothing else satisfies, or some such
    bull crap but that’s not it. No, somethings changed, or I changed.
    I’ll shoot a nuisance predator or even a squirrel but the feeling
    is no different than going to the grocery store. No, I’d rather
    do my hunting with a camera or the naked eye than a gun but
    I’m glad there are others who do manage the game population
    and still enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I put out food plots and
    maintain feeding stations all year but only to watch and enjoy.

    • We lost a cousin to a drunk driver about 2 years after he returned from Nam. I swear Ken was part white tail. I never saw him in the buff so I cannot confirm nor deny it. He came back with an interest in photography but I think he still hunted. I was busy life and 10 hours away the last years of his life. I was shocked and heartbroken to hear of his death.

      An interesting hunting story about Ken starts with a great friend of my father and our family, a Ked Pfiffer from WA. Ked was a world class hunter, gunsmith, competitive pistoleer, fisherman, outdoorsman and WWII veteran and so on. He and Dad were a lot alike. I recall the year he asked if he could hunt deer in PA with a pistol. That led to a hunt in the mountains in Lewis Run, PA. We would walk out of Dad’s uncle’s place, over the railroad tracks, through the brickyard and up the mountain. Or, drive the paper company logging roads and start on top.

      A couple days in to the season, Ked and Ken approached Walt’s house and started talking about their day on the mountain. Ken told Ked he had just seen a big 8 point but as it was so close to end of day he decided to look for him in the morning. When he told Ken where he saw him, Ken turned back to the mountain saying he was going to get him. Ked, surprised, said he only had 30 or 35 minutes and expressed doubt he could get up the mountain in time much less find the 8 point before legal light. Ken replied he knew where the buck was head and strode off in the strong, fast stride of a mountain man on a mission.

      About 2 minutes before the legal end of the day’s hunt we heard a single shot. Walt said it was Ken. And confirmed his opinion 45 minutes later when Ken had yet to return for supper.

      Sure enough, Ken came down the mountain dragging a freshly field dressed 8 point at about 10:30 pm.

      I recall Ken got his own 8 point later in the week with a single 45 yard shot. Surprisingly, I don’t recall the revolver he used (I was a rifleman and didn’t get into pistol shooting until some years later.).

      I still miss Ken and think of him often. And definitely every time I take game as he taught me a lot. He told me how to get my first deer at age 14 after I complainedabout tracking him for 4 days with no success. A similarly scripted story for another day.

      Thank you Daniel, for your service and your sacrifices.

    • Daniel E Redmon,

      It is understandable why you would rather photograph deer than kill and eat them. They are beautiful animals, and they are more beautiful when they are alive, than when they are dead. My religious beliefs are that there was a time in the past when there was no death, before the time we live in now. In the future, there will also be a world in which there is no death. But, during the time in which we live now, it is proper to kill animals swiftly (so they suffer as little as possible) and eat them.

      Life is more beautiful than death, but death is necessary, for now. That’s what I believe. In America, we are free to believe whatever we want, for now.

  4. Well I’ve been hunting since I was 11 or so. Started out with my Dad as many no doubt have, he was very successful with Bow and firearm season. I guess I wasn’t as attentive to the details like scent and wind, probably why I never harvested one. This season I got very serious and controlled many of the things previously overlooked with those details. I also bought a Rifled barrel for my 11-87 Supermag and spent quite a bit of time and shoulder life getting the slugs to group. Well after a bunch of hunting this firearm season getting out before first light and evening hunts in challenging conditions, I got a 8pt buck at around 70yds. It was definitely satisfying for this 47 yr old to bring venison home. Dad Mom and my Wife and girls were happy too, every time I went out to hunt the girls would ask where the deer was when I got home..guess it didn’t hurt to have them hoping to have me get one..the girls were whooping and screaming when they came out in the driveway!

  5. Here in Texas hunting is big business. People even have satellite TV at their deer lease cabins! You have to get a long-term lease to be able to hunt unless you own a big piece of land. But there are plenty of opportunities to hunt other things including javelina and wild pigs.

  6. My lovely spouse and I were fortunate enough to take 3 deer with a crossbow this year. We do all the processing ourselves so have complete control over the preparation, packaging & preservation of the venison and even started canning again this year. It is nice to have a good supply of healthy, lean meat in these days of Bidenflation. The only downside was no reason to break out the handgun or muzzleloader this season.

  7. I lost my favorite hunting buddy, my next older brother, last year as dementia rather rapidly decimated him. He and I had for years always counted on two hunts together: opening Dove season, and opening day of Squirrel. This year I managed the dove season with our older brother there with me and my younger daughter joined me as well ~ that was all quite nice but it wasn’t quite the same.
    Keith and I were always right on the edge of some calamity ~ and enjoying every moment and even digging ourselves out of the pile we made. It was just how we lived and shared. I have a Tshirt I bought with him in mind: “That’s a TERRIBLE idea … what time do we go?” It seemed to be our mantra.
    We weren’t “serious” hunters, but we did it all with zest … and laughed at our foibles. I try to explain to folks how hunting wasn’t about the “kill” but rather the adventure. And Keith always made sure it turned into an adventure.
    I’ve also tried to explain that going into the woods REQUIRED taking a gun … just in case there was an opportunity to take home game. To me, going into the woods without a gun, was like going to the mall “window shopping” when you not only didn’t have money, but were too broke to even charge something ~ it just seemed pointless.
    Gee, I miss him.
    Thanks for letting me ramble and share.

  8. Son and daughter in law bought her family’s small lakefront compound in Northern MN last December. It was embroiled in a multi family estate after her grandmother’s death.

    So, this year our son killed his fist two deer on his own land. A small buck taken with bow and a big buck taken with my father’s pre-64 model 94 Winchester 32 Special.

    Their freezers are full of fish and venison and they still have some elk, as do I, from out last hunt in the South Wah Wah mountains in UT before the moved.

    I caught a very nice walleye off the end of their dock in July. I look forward to hunting his small plot and the adjoining Chippewa NF with him next year. But dang it gets cold up there! Fortunately, one of the outbuildings is a wood fired sauna! Unfortunately, the sauna is close to the lake, not the houses, don’t ya know?

    • they put that sauna there where it belongs for a purpose: when the heat of the fire starts getting too much its time to head to the lake and get a cold soak for a few minutes. Then bacj to the fire. A few rounds of that will fix ya right up.
      Friend of mine introduced me to this way of the sauna. When available th Finns will head out near naked and roll in the snow for the cold intervals. Cold lake water would be close.

      • Yes. I knew it decades before my son sent me pictures of his first plunge through the ice.

        Yet I maintain my (contrarian) perspective!
        Those Scandinavians, smh, lol

  9. Sadly, after using up preference points to draw an early season limited cow elk license in the NW corner of my home state of Colorado, a medical issue raised its ugly head that upset that hunting plan. I was left with the choice of getting back my license fee or my points. I opted for the latter and am hopeful that in 2023 things will turn out better…Maybe one of my daughters for whom elk, antelope and deer were the staple, growing up, and whose own children no longer keep her home, will be able to join next year’s hunt. Years ago, when she went to the local hardware store for a saws-all blade and, when asked what she was cutting up, all 4’11” of her gained respect when she answered, “elk.” Another, who brought in her deer to the Division of Wildlife station for wasting disease testing and was asked who dressed the kill, replied, “me,” and was told by the staff that her job of field dressing was the best that had been brought in… Its all about good meat, good traditions and good times.

  10. “Got yer deer yet”? reminded me: Friend of mine (well before we met) who grew up in high plains cattle country in Colorado recounted this story from his wedding day. Happened to fall on opening day of deer season. My friend, family, their friends, were all avid hunters, both for sport and food.
    He was in his early thirties, his next younger sister by a small handful of years was the Bridesmaid. After the main ceremony and reception were past, the guests had dwindled down to closest friends and family. Seems a number of the single men were great pals, hunting buddies, woodsmen, etc, along with my friend and his sister, who in many ways was “just one of the boys”. As things began to quiet down some of those single guys began to suggest they change their clothes and get their guns out of their trucks, mount up, and head out.After all it WAS opening day, right? A few of them nad thought to ask Sister if she’d join them for the hunt. She politely declined to each of them, saying she’d rather stay and visit with the remaining guests.
    After some attempts to convince her to join them, one of them apparently got a bit pushy. She still politely declined. Her Dad had seen this, and realised things were “escalating”. He quietly took aside one of the young men and advised him to back off, else his daughter would be forced to admit she could NOT go with them because she had risen early with the sun, mounted up, gone out and bagged her five point buck, had him dressed and hanging in the shed out back, before she took her morning bath and breakfast.
    The description of the looks on those faces was hilarious.

    Got yer deer yet?

  11. I’ve hunted religiously since I was 9. Squirrel and deer are by far my favorite things to hunt. Even though most of the people I have hunted with over the years have either quit hunting or passed on, I still find myself in the woods every year reliving my youthful days, remembering all the good times I’ve had and filling my freezer. I have processed my own game for close to 20 years now and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve killed plenty of big deer in my life but the last few years I have kinda hunted like my uncle who lived to hunt but was always happy with whatever came along. I gutted and helped him load his last buck two seasons ago, two months before he passed. Still haven’t hunted with his 30-06 he left me. Maybe next year. I killed my 6 point with my 30-06 the second day of the Kentucky rifle season this year with the luxury of living in a place where I done that about 200 yards up on the ridge behind my house.

  12. My Dad is in his 70’s, & got the biggest 8-pointer of his hunting career (which began in his teens). Helped pkg it, & had a very enjoyable first meal from it. (I never cease to be amazed how Dad’s friend can make the steaks so perfect and tender… I think the trick is, let it get a tiny bit frozen before butchering it, and that way you can get them real thin.)

    Then, a friend’s grandson got his first deer ever, at 14 years old. Also an 8-point buck!

    Overall, a very good season!

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