Hunting season atmospheres

There are different approaches to the deer hunting season problem. One is exemplified by the hunter who, lifting a wetted finger to the wind, moves stealthly through brambles; scouting insightfully, accurately deciphers discerned sign; reserving unto himself those revelations — plays cards.

Results using this approach are memorialized in a November 15, 1949 log entry from Old Portage Camp. Two of its charter members were Orville Murch — grandfather of the managing editor of this publication — and Gene Richard, the father of my friend and hunting companion, Dave Richard.

Here’s that entry:

5:00 a.m. “The quiet of camp finds Orville at the stoves, as usual the first man up.”

7:28 a.m. “A lively barrage is heard southwest of camp with, ‘Tally Ho’s’. Gene stiff armed a buck at 7:28 before reaching his stand and got a shot off at a hall tree specimen seen fading away.”

1:00 p.m. Orville’s delayed appearance at noon is a gift from the forest, monarch style — an 11 pointer, a beauty to behold, truly a hunters dream — and well deserved.”

Mike Murch — Orville’s son and Steve’s father — used this same approach to like effect.

But not all hunters are Orvilles, or Mikes or Genes. There are, “Red Caps” as in, “Red Cap Hordes”, to use Roland E. “Peck” Prescott’s term for them. He was the editor and publisher of The Alcona County Herald in Lincoln, Michigan from 1910 to 1943. Peck divided life into “atmospheres”:

“Era blends into era, each generation too busy with the present to record the past and links with earlier days are broken unless some effort is made to preserve the, ‘atmosphere’ of the era as described by those who lived through it.”

Here’s Peck’s 1930 deer hunting season’s atmosphere — walked through to a cadence.

You’ll need this key:

Flivvers = cheap cars

Tempus fugit = “Time flies”

Hot Stove League = Hunter’s off season meetings (pre – T.V. and internet) held around hot stoves.

“Heads” = Newspaper headlines.

“Soon comes the time of year when papers carry frequent heads, “MISTAKEN FOR A DEER,” and they tell how some tenderfoot out hunting took a chance and planted 30-30s in some other fellow’s pants. Or seeing something moving in the golden autumn sun, had blazed away to ventilate some human with his gun.”

“In just another week or so the urban population in flivvers and in limousines begins its fall migration, and Northern plains and forest lands will populate enough so census figures from Detroit will read like small town stuff.”

” Along about a week from now the Big parade will start. Along the trunkline highways cars will string a length apart. The Packards, Lincolns, Model T’s, and little Chevrolets will burn up gas and oil and tires along the North highways. In shiny cars and rusty hacks the redcap hordes will travel. The pavements will be crowded and they’ll stretch for miles on gravel.”

“There’ll be hunters with high foreheads; there’ll be hunters without brains, and they’ll be camping in the forests; dozens haunt each swamp and glade. There’ll be hunters in the sunshine and more hunters in the shade. About the campfires they’ll recount full many a healthy yarn – while the farmer keeps his livestock safely tethered in the barn.”

“And when lastly tempus fugits to the last week in November, the hunter hits the homeward trail with something to remember, and winter meets of Hot Stove League will hear him yarn and boast about the whoppin’ 10 point buck, the one he got — almost.”

Still, often — it’s almost.

There is another atmosphere — home. There you can prepare by scouting out a good book, hunkering down, getting things tethered. If you do, consider making the acquaintance of an Orville, Gene, or Mike so as to be in line for venison sausage. But, be alert for Red Cap atmospheric conditions – they can lay down storm tracks.

Doug Pugh’s Vignettes run bi-weekly on Tuesdays. He can be reached via email at pughda@gmail.com.