Half of the bunch of Woolrich-clad woodsmen pictured at the right is gone now (and the one in the middle is now in his 99th year). It's guys like these who established our traditions. (No, I'm not in this picture. It was a few years before my hunting days started.)
Traditions are nice, but they're not everything. Traditions come, and traditions go. Most of the traditions the people of the world have created are long-gone.
Here in Pennsylvania we have some traditions. Some are worth keeping, some probably aren't, and some of them identify Pennsylvania hunters as a little peculiar. I've outlined several in my January column (read below). I'm sure you can add a few more. And you can probably also laugh at yourself while you're doing it.
My bi-weekly newspaper column, "The Everyday Hunter," appears in the Forest County News Journal (Tionesta, PA) and the Corry Journal (Corry, PA), both part of the Sample News Group. If you'd like to see "The Everyday Hunter" in your local newspaper, have your editor contact me.
To access more of my writing on hunting topics, go to the home page of my blog, Mission: Hunter.
You Might Be a Pennsylvania Hunter If…
Pennsylvania hunters are serious about whitetail deer. About 80% of Keystone State hunters are deer hunters, and two things unite us. First, we’re a fraternity of fanatics. Second, we’re often disunited in our opinions on the Pennsylvania Game Commission, deer management, and just about anything related to deer hunting. We often put our contradictory opinions on display. What we’re sure of about deer hunting is what we’re sure of—and no place is that more evident than social media.
Pennsylvania hunters know hunting—just ask us. We’re quick to challenge each other’s opinions. After all, many of us grew up under the guidance of Woolrich-clad woodsmen who “always got their buck.” All that success has set our ideas in concrete, and we often stretch the bonds of our fellowship nearly to the breaking point.
We’re all very different, but oddly, things that are different are often very similar. We have certain common traits that stand out no matter whether we agree or not. Credit is due to others for the following oddities about Pennsylvania hunters—first, to Jeff Foxworthy who might have started the endlessly imitated “You might be” genre of humor. (Foxworthy is, you’ll be happy to know, a serious whitetail hunter.) Credit also goes to the Pennsylvania hunters from whom I’ve gleaned some of these thoughts. (Heaven knows I wouldn't dare come up with some of these on my own.) I’ve tweaked them a little, and now offer them back.
I realize that non-hunters read this column, and you might be confused already. Some of these might make you question the sanity of hunters—but if all of us are crazy, then none of us are crazy.
You might be a Pennsylvania hunter if…
…you’ve saved up money for taxidermy but instead you spend it on a second freezer, this one for meat, because the one you have is full of frozen animals that still have fur or feathers on them.
…your backyard has several deer targets, and you plan to expand to an entire 3-D archery course by summer.
…Christmas day and “Muzzleloader Eve” are the same day. December 26 is the day you can hardly wait for.
…when someone says, “Merry Christmas,” you reply, “Didja hear what I killed?” And nobody thinks that’s weird.
…you’d like to see Christmas rescheduled to September, so you can get your new hunting gear before deer season.
…you hate long lines so you do all your Christmas shopping on the Internet, but you’ll stand in line for two hours in 10-degree weather just to be one of the first ones into the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg.
…you can walk to your treestand in the dark a mile back in the woods and not a single critter knows you’re there, but you start the dog barking and wake up the neighborhood when you leave home because you can’t close the door quietly.
…your kid hasn’t started school yet, can’t color inside the lines, and won’t eat his vegetables, but you’re proud of him because he can gobble with his natural voice and rattles antlers better than any of your buddies.
…your best friend tells you his first grader can name the five seasons. The kid says, “Deer, turkey, dove, bear, and trout.” Then your preschooler says, “No! Six! Morel season!” And that’s when you start laughing.
…you’ve learned to steer your pickup with your knees while holding a spotlight in one hand and binoculars in the other. And somehow you manage to hold a camera too.
…you don’t see a deer all day while hunting, and then hit one with your new truck on the way to work the next morning.
…on garbage day the week after Thanksgiving, your garbage man picks up a heavy bag from a pool of blood at the end of your driveway, and he thinks nothing is unusual.
…you know all the words to the song “Second Week of Deer Camp,” and you wonder why they don’t sing that in church.
…you have 20 trail cameras but when your wife is within earshot, you always use the singular—you tell your buddy, “I got a nice buck on my trail camera?”
My advice—never let on that you have more than one trail camera. And be willing to laugh at yourself even when you disagree with another hunter.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.