Archived Story

Hunting is human nature

Published 3:51pm Saturday, January 14, 2012

I’m up a tree.

And I’m not alone.

This is the time of year when the urge to go deer hunting pulls hard, drawing the normally level-headed out of their homes and offices and into the Alabama woods.

We can’t help it. The urge to hunt, to go into the woods empty handed and come back out with dinner to feed the family was baked into our DNA thousands of generations ago.  It’s human nature.

Certainly the experience has changed over the years.

Some hunters still go into the woods with bows and arrows.

I tried it for the first time earlier this season  but never had the opportunity to shoot.

In this state it’s even legal to  carry a spear, though I personally don’t know anyone who will admit to doing so.

Very few hunters will choose to go primitive with their weapons, and even fewer would go into the forest without the very basics if modern gear like wool socks, a metal knife or a flashlight.

As I am sitting here in the late afternoon, the temperature is dropping through the 30s.

My reading glasses are fogging with each exhale, my nose is running in the cold and my hands are burning.

I doubt I can finish this column before my thumbs go numb.

I can’t imagine trying this wearing buckskin clothing and moccasins.

Most of us drawn to the woods, me included, have a small fortune invested in gear. In November, December and especially January, my entire trunk is filled with enough hunting equipment to make Woody Baird at Sure Shot bust into a grin bigger than Nick Saban on Monday night.

Right now I’m sitting in a ladder stand 16 feet above the forest floor in a stand of oaks, 25 yards to my left is a green field. The hunting lease, the cost of building the ladder stand and the cost of planting the field, not to mention the August sweat involved, will far exceed the value of any venison I make this whole season.

But a moment ago when my high-dollar ear protectors picked up the sound of feet moving in dry leaves, I looked up from typing and watched three blue-headed wild turkeys walking through crackling dry leaves and into the other side if the greenfield 60 yards away. If I don’t see anything else today, I will count the trip a success. I’ve been watching the turkeys pecking the grass, one standing with his head high, a sentinel while the other two eat. I saw one stick its chest out and flap his wings, which made his companion run a few yards, a turkey scuffle.

A minute ago I think I heard two deer fighting, clashing their antlers together. But I’m hunting near the property line, and I could be hearing another hunter trying to “rattle up” a buck on the other side of Sandy Creek.

In any case, during a cold January afternoon, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than up a tree.

Why? I don’t know, I’m just wired that way.

And there are hundreds of other people in trees this weekend that would say the same thing.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.

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