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Hunting in Arkansas

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  • Bryan Fields
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As the white tail season is rapidly approaching its conclusion, this rookie hunter has come to a conscience understanding that hunting is far more than the trophies we mount on our walls, the meat we store in the freezer, and the stories we embellish around the campfire—it’s an all out addiction! I confess I am actively seeking a Deer Hunter’s Anonymous group to join.

My family recently relocated to Arkansas; my wife Theresa is a true-blooded Arkansan, but this man was born to cotton farmers in West Texas; please, don’t hold that against me, I got here as fast as I could!  For two decades now we have been visiting family, and the scenery in Arkansas never fails to drop my jaw, bring a tear to my eye, and somehow draw me closer to an overall understanding:  It’s as if God paused a moment because his canvas needed more color; he was not content with just the normal colors of nature.  He created enough beauty here to last a life time.

The decision to become a hunter was filled with multiple trials, several failures, and lots of antics—my Arkansan brethren were more than willing to point this out:

My first deer was shot on opening weekend from a climbing tree stand.  All my kinfolk warned me how dangerous these stands can be (I chuckled under my breath). The shot was a good 170 yards, and it required a far lean around the backside of the tree with only one arm on the rifle, and the other on the tree.  I soon discovered when a man is under the poisonous effects of Buck-Fever, you just don’t make good decisions.  The shot was fired, the deer was hit, and I proceeded to fall thirty feet.  Have you ever played with a Slinky on the staircase, you get the picture.  I quickly pounced to my feet, started hooting and hollering (that dang gum Buck-Fever again) and quickly looked for the blood trail.  Then to my dismay, I realized I was dripping blood as well….Lesson number one: never let a rookie play in a tree stand—especially if he’s from Texas.

I would love to say the story ended there, but a Texan is always worth a second laugh.  I figured I needed to recover; you know, look tough since I had a dripping cut on my head.  I tried for several minutes to hoist the deer on my back.  I figured no one would hassle at a man carrying a deer on his back.  I am sure God is still laughing at the sight, and no, I did not manage to accomplish this task.  After dragging the deer for about 500 yards, my bother-in-law called and told me to come get the four-wheeler to carry the deer back.  I marked the deer location with my GPS—please don’t laugh—and I returned to camp.  After several minutes (seemed like hours) of laughter over my cut, my brother decided to assist me with the retrieval.  When we arrived at the general location, I turned to my GPS to locate the deer.  My brother kept telling me to turn the machine off, and finally I yelled at him to let me find my deer.  Naturally, he was standing right in front of the deer.  Lesson number two: if you need a GPS, don’t let others see it.

All humor aside: Deer hunters are passionate about the sport, and this man now understands the passion.  My brother keeps about two hundred acres dedicated to his deer.  This land is left unscathed by man’s hand in order to provide these majestic creatures necessary statuary.  Sure, he could clear this land and have more space for his cattle, but in the end he understands the need to preserve nature.  His part might be just a small part, but together with other fellow hunters, nature is in safe hands. 

This was my first “real” year to hunt this elusive and mysterious creature, and in the end I have more respect and admiration for the white tail than any other animal I have encountered.