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If you’re a hunter, the next few weeks and months will hold a lot of significance.
Here in Ohio, it’s open season for most game species and only three weeks until the much anticipated start of deer gun season.

I’ve been hunting since I was in the sixth grade and still look forward to it every year. My two favorite species are cottontail rabbit and deer. I have two beagle dogs that I take rabbit hunting and they do most of the work. They’re also a lot of fun just to watch as they run through the brush piles and open fields, making deep, long barks when they’re on a trail.

Rabbit season in Ohio opened Nov. 4, and I’m going to make it a priority this weekend to get out in the woods with my dogs. They’re probably looking forward to it as much or more than I am.

A few days ago, I spent some time sighting in my new deer shotgun scope. It’s going pretty well, except for one tiny fact: The company I buy my deer ammo. from went out of business and finding a supplier that sells the same kind means driving two counties west, and buying a larger supply than I really need because that kind may not be available at all next year.

As much as I like to hunt, I find myself with some mixed feelings every year. I love it too much to give it up, but there also are some things that really get under my skin.

Hunting likes:

Spending time in nature

I’m not a tree hugger, but I do like being in the woods and I do take notice of the different types of trees, their stages of growth, as well as the many types of wildlife. I’ve spotted as many as six squirrels at one time while deer hunting, and they didn’t even know I was there.

My dogs

My beagles are cute, and they would make good pets except when they’re on the trail of a rabbit. I enjoy watching the dogs work a ditch or hillside more than shooting the rabbits, but oftentimes if I want to get my dogs back, I have to take care of the rabbit first.

Time off

I generally schedule a couple days of vacation for deer season and it really is a vacation for me. I enjoy the hunt and interacting with other hunters in my party. If we get something, it’s icing on the cake.

The meat

I eat what I kill, unless we’re talking groundhogs, skunks, etc. I really like rabbit meat and last year I had a whole deer processed, that I ate throughout the year. Deer meat is kind of strong, but it’s also very lean. I also like getting a little return out of my hobby, one that is very filling.

Hunting dislikes

Commercialization. It’s nice that we now have highly accurate guns and ammunition, and accessories to keep our toes warm and our body scent from ruining the hunt. But all of this has come at a price — often a very hefty price. Ammunition stands out the most. The better quality deer slugs now average $2 a shell. At that price, you better make your shots count!

Getting permission

I understand why permission to hunt private land is necessary, and I agree with it fully. But getting permission from land owners can be very difficult. Even on land I’ve hunted all my life, there are always new challenges when it comes time to get permission cards signed. The owners change, the owners’ views change, other hunters have been given permission first, etc., etc.

Big tales and misperceptions

Maybe I’m in the minority, but hunting stories and tales of big shoots really don’t do much for me. The only hunting magazine I look at is Cabela’s. My county holds “sportsman’s shows” with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds going to hear world-class hunters speak, but I really don’t get too excited. I’d rather be hunting than at a show about hunting.

Good dogs

I have two hunting beagles and one is very good, but also getting old. It’s not hard to find a beagle, but it can be very difficult to find or teach one to be a good hunter.

Unsafe hunters

There’s nothing worse than hunting with someone who lacks the proper experience to be carrying a loaded gun, much less through the woods. Most of the people I hunt with have several years of experience under their belt and know the terrain where we’re going to be hunting. But there’s always that new person who gets invited, who may or may not have a lot of experience. My parents started me on small game first, and I wasn’t allowed to hunt deer until several years later.

That may not work for everyone, but it really scares me when a hunter is started on deer — shooting very powerful ammunition at a straight line angle.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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