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A break from hunting to honor WWII vets

Commentary

I watched in awe the ceremonies commemorating the landing at Omaha Beach in Normandy.

There was President Trump’s speech. I cried as I looked on at the few remaining veterans of that day that are now so feeble that most could not even stand on their own.

Also, I read the astonishing account published in the Mirror about the event of 75 years ago and in my own feeble way, saluted every one who fell there and those who fought on to liberate countries and free the unspeakable Nazi concentration camps of their occupants.

My own life has always been impacted by Normandy Beach because it occurred the day before my own birthday. So I have been reminded yearly of that awful, yet glorious day. I remember when the war ended and had to cry for two uncles who would not come home again. My stepfather was a Normandy Beach landing survivor so the taste of it has always been in my mind.

Many a time, I have relished alone time in the forests of our commonwealth, thankful that we could freely pick up our firearms and be there. I can still remember my father and mother, who each had a brother in that invasion, grieving.

Well, moving along, it has been established that deer season will open on the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year rather than Monday. The furor this has raised is still raging. And the fact that such outcries can be freely heard is merely one of our smaller freedoms.

Anyway, rage on it does and it will indeed impact most everyone’s long established traditions as to when they went to camp, got time off from work for deer season and all the other and many traditions every deer hunter has established.

That includes me. Truth be told, the day before the opener was always as special to me as the actual hours of opening the season at dawn the next day. My husband, son and I would leave church Sunday morning as soon as the last Amen was heard, get in the already-packed vehicle and start for deer camp in Clinton County.

We would stop for dinner on the road, a much looked-forward-to event for we rarely went out to dinner any other time of year. We’d chat with other diners also on their way to deer camp. We always remarked at the criss-crossing of cars on the highway: those traveling to our area to hunt deer and we, traveling to their area to hunt.

Arrival at camp was always such a thrill. Greeting the hunters you haven’t seen for a year but who will now be your best buddies on deer drives and watches. Claiming a sleeping space, getting everything laid out in order for next morning’s trek into the woods.

Many took a stroll to the woods to see if their deer watch was still looking the same (and hoping they could find it again in the dark) and if there was any deer sign near their stand. Sitting around eating vegetable soup and telling stories of past hunts, bringing up each of our worst moments when we missed a shot or got lost or the time Harry forgot to pack his six sandwiches and nearly collapsed from hunger.

We fondly recalled Bill’s penchant for bringing with him to camp all the new gadgets he found at the sporting goods store. His flashlight with built-in whistle, compass and some kind of green laser beam, special hats, gloves and socks to keep him warm, and on and on. He started into the woods on opening morning with enough gear to survive for a month and it was heavy. We watched his steps get slower as each day passed and then by Thursday his pack was much lighter, all the “new” gadgets discarded.

That kind of camaraderie and memories are much of what deer camp was all about. This year, however, there will be a lot of changes in most hunters’ routines and schedules with just this one change: opening day on Saturday.

And that’s the category in which most of the complaints lie: it requires some changes and we don’t like change. So who knows how this experiment will turn out?

We may come to find that it’s not so bad after all. Just give it a chance. It does offer us a couple more days of hunting which is often welcome because the weather can be a powerful enemy when setting out into the forests and farms, not to mention the roads you have to drive to get to one’s cherished hunting spots.

A change in opening days will very much impact me personally. I will have to make a few changes I’d rather not make. But I’ll also wait and see just how inconvenient it actually will be and more importantly how it affects the resource, the deer population, if indeed it impacts it at all.

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