People are prone to all types of superstitions. As hunters we are just as bad as anyone else, perhaps worse.
Surely many of you know a deer hunter who has sat at the same tree, or in the same stand, every opening day for the past however many years. That is their spot and they are sticking to it.
I have known bow hunters who wear the same T-shirt each time they hunt, or religiously nock the same arrow once they get in their stands.
A friend of mine always loaded his break-action turkey gun with the shell logos pointed in the same direction, and another guy always holds the striker for his slate call in one certain way.
Well, actually, that last guy is me.
One time I killed a gobbler on opening morning and later realized I was wearing a souvenir shirt that I had bought in Pagosa Springs, Colo. I wore that shirt to tatters over the next few years but never repeated that success.
These traditions and superstitions are neat, mostly harmless and can last for years. Like the commercial says, it is not stupid if it works, or maybe even if it doesn’t.
Opening day of buck season this year established a new tradition in our family. We were getting ready for the day with a quick breakfast of cereal and those breakfast sandwiches you heat up in the microwave. I remembered some homemade pumpkin pie left over from the prior evening’s supper and asked my stepson Hugo if he’d like a piece with his breakfast.
That is a pretty stupid question to ask a 14 year old, so I immediately served him a chunk with just a dab of whipped cream on top.
“You know, boy, this could be our lucky charm.” I told him as we were eating, “If you kill a buck this morning we just might have to have pumpkin pie for breakfast every year on the first day of buck season.”
The boy indicated that he would have no problem with that.
It is just a short drive from our house to the property of a good friend who has allowed me to hunt for years. We started seeing deer on the skyline before we ever got out of the truck.
We had a destination in mind of a particular hollow that held a good many scrapes during the Youth Day hunt, but as we walked in that direction, still barely daylight, we were seeing a lot of deer. So when we came to an intersection of a hollow and two fields we thought it wise to just sit for a spell and see if anything wandered our way.
There was barely time for us to sit on our cushions, lean back against a fence post and for Hugo to extend the bipods on his rifle, when a deer came up out of that little hollow. That animal’s body language said buck on a cold trail and when he got closer, paying no attention to us, we could see his horns.
One shot from Hugo’s 30-06 made his first buck a reality, at 7:02 on opening day.
It was an 8-point and an unusual and interesting one at that. The right horn swung up and out like normal but the left side was pushed forward and curved over to nearly above the buck’s nose. This made for a pretty neat looking deer.
It was a deer that we immediately started calling the Pumpkin Pie Buck.
Thus is born a new hunting tradition. It was necessary to enlist my wife’s support of this superstition, considering that she is the only one in the house that can bake a pumpkin pie. Fortunately she likes a good deer steak and is willing to lend her expertise to the cause.
Hopefully on some opening day far in the future Hugo will hand his son a chunk of pie and sit at the breakfast table telling him about the first time the old man did that, back in the day. Perhaps they will then go out to repeat the success we enjoyed this November.
At any rate it is a much better mojo than a ratty old T-shirt.
Dave Long is a retired West Virginia natural resources police officer and a frequent contributor to the Outdoors page.