Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Deerslayer-1

In the 1970's, where I grew up, deer hunting was perhaps the defining element of our rural culture.

Other forms of hunting were significant, but deer hunting was the first among equals, so to speak. Our middle and high schools closed for the first day of deer season, which, it should be noted, was November 15 of each year. A few weeks prior to Opening Day, the boys at school would begin wearing camouflage jackets to school, sometimes with their licenses attached to the back of them. These were the "colors" of the rural teenager.

If you were male and over the age of 14 in these parts, you were legally entitled to kill a buck after November 15 of each year. If you were male and under the age of 14, and you hadn't yet shot your first deer and loved doing so, well, there was something wrong with you. Or so said the unwritten rules of the rural culture. I despised these unwritten rules, both for their obvious mindlessness but also because the defining element in my world at that time, my father, was a passionate and skilled deerslayer.

He was a passionate and skilled deerslayer because he loved the kill, but also because he had to be.