Smitty and I have spent several evenings over the closing days of the deer season in a still-hunting style that suits our ages and physical challenges. When we are sitting in the blind waiting for a deer to appear, the average age in that blind is over 91 years.
The message here is that we are still outdoors enjoying the extended gifts of our golden years. Much is written about how to enjoy your golden years. Most is directed at the quiet, comfortable years one enjoys in a modern seniors living centre complete with all the amenities of a rich and full life at your fingertips.
Our somewhat biased view of a rich and full life has to with our on-going participation in the outdoor pursuits of fishing, hunting, gardening, and golf which takes up much of Smitty’ s outdoor time, although in my case I have never hit a golf ball. Our ongoing ability to enjoy the outdoors is due in no small amount to the generosity of local farmers and landowners who have given us permission to hunt on their private lands. A simple request for permission is all that is necessary – try it the next time you wish to hunt on private land.
If you are still hunting deer in the last few days of the season it indicates that you may be looking for a special animal or you may not have had much luck during the season to date. In our case we were trying to fill a tag for Smitty.
During our evenings in the blind we enjoy the high pressure alertness because you never know when deer may appear out of nowhere into your field of vision. One evening Smitty called a deer to almost within shooting range, before it became suspicious and departed. There were other evenings when deer passed by our blind, but always just out of effective shooting range with a shotgun.
Another unplanned change in our last-inute deer hunting plans was the cancellation of our end-of-season hunts due to excessive amounts of rainfall. The message is that when possible we were hunting.
Hunting is one of those human vocations that is credited with our long journey from the cave to our current civilization that appears to be increasingly disconnected from the natural rhythms and cycles of life.
Hunting is a sharing occupation where throughout the history of our species it has been a pursuit that shared the proceeds of the hunt with the whole community. It has much to do with the current philosophy of sharing during the Christmas season and local sustainability of regional or Island resources. It fits into the philosophy of using sustainable locally grown food whenever possible.
It does not operate on the bottom line philosophy of profits at all costs; but rather the principal of sharing local resources with local communities and members of its society before an excess product is released to the broader market of an increasingly crowded world. During this festive season the opportunities to share the proceeds of your success in the field is made easy by the promotion of the Christmas spirit of sharing and caring. A simple gift of ground meat or pepperoni is much appreciated by all members of the recipient family group, especially children who get a healthy treat of good protein instead of excessive injections of sugar as in some candy treats. Another shared gift is the sharing of special privilege and knowledge.
Our local black-tailed deer hunting has come to a close, however there are still many opportunities to hunt geese on our Island and farther inland in the north east of our large province there are extended Limited Entry Hunts (LEH) for elk where their localized large populations cause severe damage to agricultural crops. In the case of Canada Geese their numbers have outgrown their welcome in our parks, fields and foreshores where they do much damage to delicately balanced tidal ecosystems.
In summary, there are positive benefits to the broader community from effective hunting seasons.
In closing, there is still time to share a gift of the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Club 2015 calendar which is a year long prize and conservation event made possible by this paper and the club. Available for a $5 donation at the Record, Gone Fishin’, Tyee Marine and Sears or the clubhouse, it is a good way to share and care.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.