Monday, December 6 was opening day of New Jersey firearm deer season, and also opening day of the 6 day bear season. It was cold, windy, and spitting snow. Getting out of my warm bed at 5:00 in the morning wasn’t on my list of top ten things to do, but you have to be in it to win it.
For most people in North Jersey, opening day (and for some this whole week) was more important of a holiday than Christmas. Those who work take the day off, and the local schools shut down. But, it isn’t so much about the hunting and the deer as it is about spending time with family and friends, eating at the local diner, talking about previous seasons and drinking hot coffee by the gallon.
This week isn’t about stand hunting or sitting in a blind waiting for deer to walk by; pretty much everyone does drives. I’m not a huge fan of drives, but on private property it can work to your benefit.
That afternoon I noticed that I had missed a call from my dad, who was working at one of the local deer check stations. Calling my voicemail, I listened to the message….
SOMEBODY HAD SHOT MR. BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(
Just the thing I didn’t want to hear….
My heart sank.
A local group of hunters doing drives had pushed him out onto nearby property and someone had shot him. My worst fear had come true: my months of hardcore hunting for Mr. Big had been ruined in one morning. Somehow, I felt I hadn’t tried hard enough…though there really was no way I COULD have tried harder. It looked like this season was just going to have to end a little different than I thought.
And it was ending. For me, now that Mr. Big was no longer available, my energy for late season hunting had somewhat disappeared. Time to look for more spots to hunt! And also time to move on.
My plans for the rest of the NJ season is to shoot a few more does, and possibly a nice buck if I get my chance. No more passing up bucks that aren’t “big enough”. The time for me to put a deer on the ground is long overdue since my last deer back in October, and its time to finally film some kills now that the pressure is over.
So, we’ll see how the rest of the season pans out for me, hopefully my luck will change and I’ll get a chance at another nice buck.