OPENING DAY! Are you kidding me! Here in my birthstate of Michigan, (you know, the “reliably blue state” that just upgraded to a glowing Republican RED state!) this magical, mystical amazing day always falls on November 15, and all these adventurous 67 years after my day of birth, it is still as exciting as ever.
Sure, I’ve been hunting every day nonstop since early September, and enjoying it beyond measure, but there is something absolutely and uniquely exhilarating about the opening day of the firearms deerseason.
I actually feel sorry for people that fail to know this level of excitement in their lives. What on God’s good green earth do they do in their non-hunting lives to feel the sensations us hunters feel when this special day arrives?
I know hunters all across America that feel the same way I feel when the gun opener is here. We don’t need to set alarm clocks because our spiritual instinct to be ready to rock in this day launches us out of bed with a will unto itself.
The Nugent family traditionally gathers a few days in advance at our little cabin in the swamp to go through the thrilling rituals of double checking guns, scopes, ammo, hand-warmers, boots, camo clothes, hunter orange vests and hats and all the assorted maneuvers that are part of the excitement.
Woodstove logs are cut, split and stacked, supplies are organized and there is a spirit in the air unique to this annual deerhunting day.
Mom and dad and aunts and uncles are gone now, but the memories of everybody getting together over steaming mugs of coffee and hot chocolate, those special deerhunting meals and around roaring fireplaces are as powerful right now as the moment they first occurred.
This November 15, 2016 opener was quite a bit different for me this year as kids and siblings were tied up with various responsibilities here, there and everywhere, so my wife Shemane and I had the cabin to ourselves.
The night before is always a whirlwind of decision making as to which one of my more than 50 deerstands I would hit in the morning.
On a deerhunter’s whim, I made the interesting decision to leave the Polaris in the barn, leave the cabin and head out into the pre-dawn darkness a little earlier than usual, and walk the mile or so to my far west woods.
Instead of going to one of my cleverly positioned, warm, comfortable Shadow Hunter blinds or to any one of my deadly ladderstand ambush spots, I would go Old School 101 and just pick a big tree to sit against.
You know, the old clearing out a bare spot in the woods with my boots, and sit on the ground with my sniper 12 gauge cradled across my lap. No blind, no plan, no strategy, just a good old deerhunter hunch in the forest.
And what an opener it was! The spirit of the woods is like an old, good friend. And it makes me feel warm and good inside!
It was spectacular! The slight fog slowly lifted against that incredibly glowing giant moon, highlighting every damp branch, leaf, rock, log, downfall and old fence in sight. There is a magical stimuli in the forest, more powerful than ever on opening day.
Crows raised hell in the distance. Far off combines hummed along. When the wind was just right I could hear the big trucks on the highway many miles away.
Cranes and geese called at first light, then I saw movement deep in the woods before me.
Coyote! As much as I love killing deer, I love killing coyotes a thousand times more, and this big wolf looking dog was cruising along on a mission.
I followed him in my Bushnell scope on low setting the best I could amongst the thick stand of trees and thought for sure he was going to get away when he abruptly paused behind a deadfall about 80 yards out.
Those beautiful crosshairs were already dead-nuts on his body when the 12 gauge Browning instantly roared, and down he went.
I spent the rest of this wonderful morning with bucks and does running amok all around me, sometimes within mere feet of me. The two little 6 point bucks would have been dead in my earlier years of deerhunting, but now I pass them in hopes of a big, old mature stag giving me a shot.
Taking occasional sips from my coffee thermos, I sat there for four solid hours taking it all in, never bored, never lacking goosebump slamming opening day titillation.
I saw 13 deer and killed a great 50 pound coyote, and more importantly pulled off yet another opening day celebration of deerhunting wonderment and happiness.
I felt dad and Uncle John there with me the whole time, and with the amazing technology of these crazy little cellphones, I was able to share every blow by blow spirit punch with all my kids and siblings and friends throughout the morning.
And not just with my inner-circle either, as I pulled off a facebook Live super-tech maneuver right there at the base of my opening day oak tree with millions and millions of people around the world.
As big and far reaching as all this technology allows, it remained deeply personal with just me, my woods and all of God’s miraculous creation for as perfect an opening day 2016 as an old deerhunter could ever hope for.
Ted Nugent is an award-winning musician and writer, with numerous best-seller books including “Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto,” “God, Guns and Rock ‘n Roll,” and “Kill It and Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish” with his wife, Shemane, among other books. Be sure to check out his website for more news on his latest music, thoughts and upcoming shows, and also at World News Daily, Newsmax and Daily Caller for more insights.
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