Deerhunting Then And Now

March 28, 2019 | « back

By: Ted Nugent

A good friend and I were exchanging ideas today about our love for deerhunting, referencing our lifetimes of exciting experiences and memories in our beloved deerwoods. Of course such discussions take place in my life all the time, but on this occasion my walk down deerhunting memory lane just happened to be with Dan Schmidt, editor extraordinaire of Deer And Deer Hunting magazine, probably as close to a maniacal, over-the-top, gungho deerhunter as me that there is.

When I first hit the deerwoods in our mythical, sacred Up North big timber of Michigan way back in November of 1949, I was only 10 months old, so I can’t really share many accurate memories of those first few years.

But believe me when I tell you, the Spirit of the Wild imprinted powerfully deep inside me nonetheless, and within a mere couple of years later, I not only figured out what was going on but instantly became fascinated by the whole primal scream ritual of the seasonal dynamo of the fall hunting season.

And be it known to all good men everywhere, it has accelerated incrementally over 70 glorious deerseasons so far.

We didn’t really have designated hunting clothes back then. We augmented our corduroy pants and cotton shirts with longjohns and the same gloves and boots we would wear when sledding or going to school.

My first deer rifle was a WWII .30 caliber M1 carbine with a tiny peep-site, and my first bow a handsome yew wood longbow of about 25-pound draw, which amazingly, I still have.

Only wooden arrows were available and there was no camouflage clothing to be had.

Broadheads consisted of stout, 140 grain heads like the MA2, MA3, Bodkin, Zwickey, Hill, Pearson DeadHead, Hilbre, and the most popular of all, the mighty Bear RazorHead.

Eventually we figured out that earthtone patterns on wool shirts and jackets were a good idea, and slowly but surely, we learned to use the wind, slow down and stay in the shadows.

I had never heard of a treestand and I was unaware of any commercial deerblinds for many, many years. There was only Pete Rickards Indian bucklure and nobody I knew was aware of any deer vocalizations.

It wasn’t until later in the late 1960s that we paid attention to rubs and scrapes, and quite honestly, nobody in the Nugent clan ever killed a deer until I killed a button buck on opening morning November 15, 1969.

A day of infamy for sure.

I arrowed my first doe in October of 1970 with my Bear takedown recurve, and things began to click as I came to grips with my instinctual predator awareness and indefatigable dedication to stay out there, hunt harder and more diligently practice my craft.

Some have mentioned how they think those early years were better and more primal, and I must admit I am helpless to adequately express how grateful I am to have been there then, but all the purity of those simpler times is absolutely still available right here today as long as we focus and dedicate ourselves to keeping it simple and primal.

Some lament how so-called trophy hunting and extreme commercialization are compromising the basic pleasure of the hunt, but I completely disagree.

I am here to tell you that each and every morning and afternoon hunt from last season, and every season, was as pure, fun, challenging and thrilling as any of those early years of stumbling and learning.

Regardless of the onslaught of outrageous technical advancements in equipment, weapons and gear, the joys and successes of my hunts continue to be predicated upon the same elements that brought venison to the tribes of Cochise and Sitting Bull.

The dazzling engineering of my Mathews bow will not make up for my predator honing stealth, knowledge of the critters and use of wind, sun, terrain and atmosphere. If I blow the hunt, it will have nothing to do with what is in my hands or what I am wearing, and certainly regardless of what anyone else may or may not think designates a trophy.

The ultimate hunt comes from the heart, never from stuff.

Pursued with the proper mindset, each and every hunt can and should be as pure as the opening day in Year One.

As spring merges into summer, we have plenty of time to get it right. Stop and think hard about what it is exactly we want from our hunting lifestyle.

Keep it simple, keep it personal, make every hunt your own magical moment away from a world getting crazier by the minute, and every step beyond the pavement will indeed, cleanse the soul.