Deck the halls with hooves and antlers, fa la la la la, bang, bang, bang bangThat is the favorite tune of Central Pennsylvanians’ this time of the year.
Yep. It’s shooting season. Grab your guns, your bows and arrows, your best drinking buddy and head for the woods.
It’s the time of year for the Centre Daily Times to photograph carnage for the front page. It’s the time of year to avoid the woods like the plague (unless your well-armed or drunk, or most likely, both).
Need proof? Here’s a recent story from our local paper: A 13-year-old boy with a lift-threatening illness gets a wish. What could that be? A trip to Disneyworld. Nope. To drive a race car? Not even that. What could a boy from Central Pennsylvania REALLY want? His big dream is to shoot a deer. A great big ol’ white tailed deer in Iowa. His dream came true. He got together his bow and arrows and headed out where the deer grow big. After killing a 153-pound buck, the boy gives his grandfather a call. Grandpa’s comment to the reporter: “That just gives you a nice feeling; he did good.”
So that’s what matters here in the hills and valleys of Central Pennsylvania. Killing deer. It’s built right into the trash and recycling pick schedules. Their list of fall holidays: Labor Day, Thanksgiving, First Day of Deer Season, Christmas. What, no Veterans’ Day? Nope. That’s been quite willingly given up in favor of gittin’ them deer the Monday after Thankgsiving.
Here at my house, we’re trying to decide when to go visit the far-away folks for Thanksgiving. Do we get the kiddo out of school on Wednesday, or do we leave Thursday morning? You see, school is in session on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but closed on the Monday after. Doesn’t make much sense does it? At least not to those who DON’T hunt deer. Makes perfect sense to those that do. Why, if school were in session on the Monday after Thanksgiving, only girls would be in school. All the boys would be out in the woods with their daddies waiting to bag a buck.
When they talk about “the season” here in Pennsylvania, they’re not talking about the season where you bake a turkey, string the lights on the house, or a fat red-clothed man comes down the chimney. No, they’re talking about the season where you go out in the cold and wet, load your guns, and shoot away at a deer out for some lunch.
This season (as with others in the past), I will not be sharing the same joy as those fellows out in the woods. I’m sure it’s just a fault in my character, but I just don’t get a thrill by taking the life of an animal. Not that I’ve ever done it before. Intentionally. (Those two deer were accidental. They just got in the way of a car going 50 miles an hour. I can say that neither party was thrilled in the least.)
This year (as with others in the past), a bit of my discretionary income will go to Toys-for-Tots, not the taxidermist. My halls will be decked with greenery and white lights. My holiday preparations will not involve cleaning a gun and hanging out at the ammo counter at WalMart. The only thing I’ll strap to my car will be a Christmas tree, not a carcass.
Enjoy the beginning of your holiday season. Enjoy your friends and your families. And stay the hell out of the woods.