Seasons Are A’Changin’

Life On The Back Page With Daryl Gay, November 2011

Daryl Gay | November 1, 2011

You’d think maybe one day I’d grow up. Or, supposin’ you knew me better, one might surmise that my child-like demeanor is a byproduct of the fact that my IQ and shoe size are approximately the same set of numbers.

But when it comes to hunting seasons, I’m worse’n a kid on Dec. 24.

I like to fish. But I live to hunt. There is something inexplicable within my DNA that instantaneously brings about a sublime comfort when I step inside a tree line, away from any sight, smell or sound of anything asphalt-related. Only a couple weeks ago, I was following a gigantic F-250 flying 50 mph down a slip of a woods road in the driest of dry: the Okefenokee Swamp before the rains came — sucking down dust clouds, coughing, hacking, blinded most of the time and wondering how far ahead the next curve was and if I was going to make it.

That, in case you were wondering fellers, is bliss. I left home at three o’clock in the morning — yes, there really is a 3 a.m. — and drove three hours to the swamp just to get there an hour before daylight so I could wait yet another hour for the hunt to begin. Nothing like being on time.

But it is the weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds leading up to such goings-on that still surprise me. As this magazine reaches you the first week of November, we’ve had a week of the whitetail gun season. But I’m writing this a week before it opened. Did you happen to notice that somebody amongst the powers that be stuck about 26 months between January, when last deer season went out, and Oct. 22, when it came back in?

Boys, I’ve lived on nerve pills washed down with gallons of coffee since about August. Even got into one of them moods where my little wife finally had enough and stated flatly, “You need to go out and kill SOMETHING!”

Temptation. That’s what it was. What little mind I got left has been telling me the same thing: slip off to the deep woods and plug the first thing wearing deer hair that you see. But while I really don’t mind my name being listed two or three places in this book, the Hall Of Shame ain’t one of them! Besides, I’ve got to look at me in the mirror every morning, and it’s hard enough already without adding guilt.

Back in September, an ol’ buddy who had seen this malady on me before happened to take notice, likely because I was jangling worse’n Jerry Lee Lewis’ fingers running down a pianer keyboard. So he tried to help.

“Want to go hog huntin’?”

No, no, no and no, and let us count the reasons why: 1) It’s 110 degrees. 2) He ain’t got no dogs. 3) Hogs don’t like me. 4) I’m slower’n I used to be, both runnin’ and climbin’. Guess that’s about enough for you to get the drift.

“Squirrel season’s in. Want to try that?”

1) I can shoot a washtub full out my window here in town. (Excuse me, is that Hall Of Shame calling?) 2) They ain’t fit to eat this time of year. 3) I got the Deer Season Can’t-help-its. Sorry. I just can’t help it.

“We could always try to stick a deer.”

1) I couldn’t hit a Buick, much less a buck. 2) Snakes. 3) The hide inside my left forearm is almost healed from the first time I shot a bow… 40 years ago.

So if last week on opening morning you thought you heard a tornado blowing up from south Georgia, be advised it was only the “Aaaaaaahhhhhh” soothingly emanating at long last from my Tom Cat climber. Which I had polished the paint off of and wrapped in camo tape a dozen times in an attempt to ward off preseason boredom.

But all this ain’t just flung itself on me just lately. It was the same way back when I really was a kid. In those days there were, as best I recall, three years between dove seasons. I now know why Daddy’s hair turned gray at 30.

We hunted with my best friend, Jerry, and his dad, who drove an ancient Rambler station wagon. Forty-five miles an hour. Tops. Down a long hill. Boot to floorboard. I’ll always believe the only reason we rode in the Rambler was to prolong my agony in reaching the field.

Doves and maybe squirrels were about all we ever hunted together, and I guess I should count my blessings and be thankful that we didn’t even have a deer season in those days. Or any deer. That there were none within bicycle or Rambler range is likely the only fact that kept me in school and out of prison.

Tellin’ ya man, at nine years old, I’d’a snuck up on a deer caveman-style and whopped him with a hickory limb. Don’t know exactly how the draggin’ and dressin’ part would have come out, but I’m sure Jerry and I — mostly I — would have thought of something. Explaining back home where all that red meat came from may, however, have nullified any chances of my ever reaching adulthood.

Which is still, I’m sure, out there somewhere.

Meanwhile, let’s just be glad that my seasons and yours are at long last upon us, and that we pine for them no more. I don’t even mind the cold to come, ’cause I can handle 9 degrees a lot better than 99. Dressed out two deer last year after dark, 15 degrees, and the crimson leakage in the back of my truck was frozen solid as temps dropped to single digits overnight. Loved every minute of it.

Meanwhile, my backyard bulldog dug halfway to Mesopotamia trying to stay cool this past summer, and you could hardly lure him out of his hole with supper. Now, like me, he’s bouncing off the walls. Amazin’ what a litle fall will do for us.

So let’s go huntin’. And by the way, anybody know when rabbit season opens?



Order your copy of Daryl Gay’s books, “Rabbit Stompin’ And Other Homegrown Safari Tactics,” $19.95 plus $3 S&H and “Life On the Back Page,” $14.95 plus $3 S&H from or 16 Press, 219 Brookwood Drive, Dublin, GA, 31021.

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