Today is the first day of the Pennsylvania rifle deer hunting season. I understand that hunting is not for everyone and there are many strong opinions on both sides. If you are against hunting I suggest you stop reading this post about now.
Okay you decided to read further so here we go. I started hunting at the age of 12 like a lot of individuals in Pennsylvania. They even close the schools today specifically for hunting. For those of you outside the state, Pennsylvania especially western Pennsylvania is the home to many hunters. I started rifle hunting with my family, but around age 16 I started bowhunting with my good friend Mark.
I really enjoyed bowhunting from the start. The first day of bow season was always the first Saturday in October. October in the Pennsylvania woods is a spectacular time. All the leaves are changing providing brilliant displays of red and orange. As the leaves dropped I was always entertained by squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about under my tree stand.
Mark had a great deal more experience hunting than I did. He and I were active Whitetail deer hunters as well as addicted turkey hunters. I learned a lot about animal behavior, strategy and scent control from Mark. As I gained experience I became more successful in harvesting deer and turkey's. But the days spent in the field were not judged successful or not by whether I filled my tag or came home empty. Every day spent hunting was a successful day.
As I got older and more addicted to hunting I expanded my circle of friends and the areas I hunted. I hunted in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Ontario Canada. Each new location provided its own challenges, successes and failures.
After my spinal cord injury in 1999 I really wanted to try bowhunting again. With the help of friends and family I was able to get set up with the adaptive equipment to make this possible. Having a brace attached to my wheelchair allowed a crossbow with adapted trigger to sit securely in front of me. I practiced using the crossbow with scope on 3-D Whitetail targets. I reasoned that if a deer gave me about five minutes to adjust my wheelchair, trajectory etc. I could make a outstanding shot. So into the Pennsylvania deer woods I drove my chair.
But medically it was too soon to return. I was constantly cold, in pain and generally was not happy to be there. I thought about returning to hunting this year but have had ongoing family medical emergencies that prevented the necessary practice and steps to return to the Pennsylvania woods. I plan on someday returning to bowhunting hopefully when I am a little stronger, have less pain and can enjoy the experience with friends and family.
To all the Pennsylvania deer hunters out there today, I hope you are safe and successful in your pursuit of the Pennsylvania Whitetail. Hopefully you bring home a trophy for your wall and venison for your freezer.