For several years, my professional responsibilities have required me to attend many trade shows and media events. One, the Archery Show (ATA), was the one I always looked forward to because of the makers and attendees – many of whom I call friends. Mostly the first show of the year, the ATA had a New Years feeling with lots of wonder and possibilities ahead for the new year ahead.
The show was, of course, about new archery products, but for me it was always more about catching up with friends on how their year was going and hearing about new opportunities for the coming year. Like a family reunion, having conversations and catching up was the most important part for me and new products came right after.
Another reason I looked forward to the archery show every year was the venue for the show. Most years the convention was held in the middle of the country which ended up starting a tradition that I still follow and look forward to every year even today – stopping by for a day or two at my boyfriend’s farm in Ohio on the way to the show. for deer mouth-loading season. And just like the show, the annual hunt is more about catching up with my friends and spending time with them celebrating the new year doing what we do best: hunting. Make no mistake, deer hunting on this Ohio farm can be magical. In fact, it’s usually just amazing in the caliber of bucks seen and harvested, but spending a few days in the field with cherished friends is worth it, even if the deer don’t always cooperate. But luckily the season has been very good for us.
This year I chose not to attend the archery show due to work and life constraints, but I didn’t want to miss the annual friends hunting trip. The weather forecast called for extremely cold temperatures and unamusing gusts of wind. To be honest, I couldn’t have cared less. So, with plenty of hand warmers, almost all the hunting gear I own, and several sets of warm gloves and hats, I loaded up my truck and left my West Virginia home for a few days of hard-hitting hunting in blustery weather. more difficult.
The first morning in the tree stand I saw several deer wandering around me and I could even hear and see a winter flock of turkeys welcoming a bright new day with lots of chatter as the flock flew and gathered from its nocturnal perch. I even managed to see a handsome buck hiding in the thick cover alongside a field of cut corn, but he was smart and old, and never presented an open path for me to lay eyes on. He moved slowly through the thick blanket, and I admired his stealth and beauty from afar.
Other males were seen by the hunting party and the same story was played again – close, but no cigar. On the third day, after reviewing the 10-day weather forecast which predicted ideal temperatures for aging venison, I was determined to take the first mature deer that presented a photo. With plenty of room in my freezers at home, aged game was the trophy I wanted, and it would go a long way this year for many family meals.
As the setting sun began to retreat rapidly towards the horizon, the air temperature dropped several degrees. It was cold and puffy. The animals didn’t move much that day, and I was counting on the last hour before dusk to be more active. My intuition was correct. As the sound of my muzzle-loading rifle echoed through the farm, I got my hands on an old deer.
After several days of hard hunting with my friends, a deer harvested with enough time to age the meat was simply a perfect trophy and the most perfect way to start a new year of adventures in the wild enjoying the wonderful riches of nature. It was a good day, and I was just happy to be part of it.