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Hunting for the hunt 

A COMMON QUESTION I get around this time of year is, “How can you sit in a tree all day long and not see a deer?” One answer to that question is that it’s not always about the harvest. Sometimes you just hunt for the hunt. 

Deer hunting is an American tradition and has been a lifelong passion for me. Fall conjures up memories I’ve made in the woods since I was a kid—like the time I saw a bobcat sneaking along a ridgetop, putting the slip on a group of beagles hot on its tail. Or the time I sat in my stand above a small creek running through a swamp bottom and watched an otter chase minnows and work on its den directly below me. I enjoyed watching the otter for several days and saw plenty of deer. I never got a shot—and that was OK. 

Of course, I have many great memories of harvesting deer, but one of my favorites comes from a season that was unsuccessful. I had been hunting a particular buck for a couple of years. During the third year, I enjoyed six encounters with this giant buck. He thrashed trees, fought other bucks and chased does. He came within bow range a couple of times, but I never could get a shot. I cherish that season, probably more than any other, because of the opportunity to witness a great buck do his thing. 

For me, deer hunting has always been about more than harvesting a deer. It’s about the camaraderie, the challenge and the experiences of just being in the woods. Deer hunting is a way to hang out with friends and family in deer camp. It’s a way to stay active and get outdoors. It’s a way to enjoy nature. I love to cook, and putting hard-earned venison in the freezer is a great feeling. So is sharing venison with friends, either as a gift for their freezer or better yet, as dinner at your place. These get-togethers are a great time to get a new hunter interested in deer hunting with stories of the hunt and a taste of your favorite venison recipe. 

I hope that everyone has another great Kentucky hunting season this year. While you’re out there in a tree stand or sitting on that favorite log by the creek calling ducks, think about all the great memories you have filed away over the years. Try a new recipe with that deer tenderloin and have a few friends over to share in your harvest. Add a few new memories to the list, and remember to hunt for the hunt and not just the harvest.

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