There's just something about heading outdoors at 4:30 a.m. on a cold November morning that warms the heart.
Then again, nah.
The magic from heading outdoors in freezing or below-freezing temperatures in late November and early December comes from spending time in the woods with friends and family. The cold is just an enemy.
Thankfully, temperatures weren't that bad before sunrise on Monday morning for the 6:34 a.m. legal shooting time as Pennsylvania kicked off the statewide firearms deer season.
Temperatures barely dipped below freezing, and the sun quickly came out and made things downright comfortable by 9 a.m.
Shawn Mengel of Breinigsville downed an 8-pointer at 7 a.m. in Breinigsville, the first time he's ever claimed a buck on the opening morning of the season.
Chris Grammes of Lehighton had no luck in the morning, but saw deer near his house while returning home for family duties. He planned on returning to the field around 2 p.m. to stay for the 5:07 p.m. close of shooting for the day.
For the first time in history, my son, Jared, and I hunted Northampton County in Wildlife Management Unit 5C. Traditionally, we head up to Sullivan County to be with family and longtime friends, but work circumstances made the two-plus-hour trek impossible this year.
Over at H.R. Waterman's Meat Market in Hereford, Harry Waterman said they cut off taking the deer on Monday after the count hit 90, including a monster 16-point buck harvested by Lee Smith of Macungie.
"Heavy traffic, very heavy traffic," Waterman said. "It's just as good as past years, and maybe even better. There are lots of bucks, and very big bucks."
Bob Danenhower from Bob's Taxidermy in Orefield agreed.
"I would say it's as good as any other year, maybe better," he said of the deer brought into his shop. "I had a nice one just brought in: the rack was 18 inches wide. No one brought in any monsters, but they're all nice, respectable bucks."
Danenhower was also out hunting near Kempton and passed up a few small bucks while waiting on Mr. Big, which was within sight, but not within what he considers acceptable distance for a shot. As most of my readers know, I cover more than just the outdoors scene. One of my other beats involves covering the New York Giants home games, and Sunday night, they played the Green Bay Packers, crushing them in the process.
Arriving home after 2 a.m. just didn't afford me enough time or energy, so we were lucky enough to have hunted on property owned by Barry Haydt.
The two hours of sleep before getting all oranged-up to hunt didn't quite clear the cobwebs from my head. I did remember to pre-fill the coffee maker and set it on a start time, and I did remember to clean it out so that my wife, Lois, could have fresh coffee when she woke up (good husband).
Jared needed his overalls stuffed into a compression sack at the last minute, so I did that for him (good father).
About half a mile from our destination, the sudden realization hit me: I forgot my boots (dumb hunter), and it was too late to turn back.
After getting set up in our ground blind, I received a text from Lois: "Thanks for the coffee! You are the best." I forgot to make the coffee (very very bad husband).
We had turkeys within 50 yards of us, gobbling and clucking for almost an hour. Ducks graced us with more flyovers than I've witnessed at NFL stadiums. Geese honked during their overpasses. Woodpeckers pecked. Black-capped chickadees dotted the elms and oaks (patient hunters).
Jared and I scouted our shooting lanes previously, so we were all set in the blind; all set except the deer had other ideas. We broke for lunch about 12:15, and as we hunted our way back to the car, a doe saw us and quickly high-tailed it the other way onto another person's property. We waited for several minutes to see if it would come back, and when it didn't, Jared spotted three does below us, but they were also on the adjoining property (ethical hunters).
The day ended for us with a slow hunt out of the woods and the vow to get in more time before the season ends (good son).