Pennsylvania’s Opening Day of Rifle Season 2019!
The holidays are here and for Pennsylvania hunters, but not all holidays mean gathering around a large table for a feast with family. Hunter’s holidays are spent gathering around small camp kitchens and bonfires. They find presents and treasures from high up in trees early in the morning, instead of looking under them. They have different days circled on the calendar. Counting down the days until they can trade in the cozy couch for a frosty tree stand builds exciting anticipation only few of us understand. It’s equally a rite of passage and return to the familiar. Just like the holidays, it only comes once a year. One day to reference for generations when you got your first one there, and grandpa got that one there. There’s nothing like celebrating our whitetail rifle season’s opening day.
Arguably the same, if not more than other holidays, preparation goes into getting ready for that first dawn. This year you got new boots or a new coat, so you don’t freeze like you did last year. You put a new scope onto your old reliable rifle. The trail camera you’ve been checking all summer is paying for itself over and again with the secrets it’s telling you about where that buck lives. It’s all part of continuing the tradition of the chase.
Whether you’re hunting by yourself or with friends or family, the excitement of the experience is the same. The community of taking to our woods searching for an elusive game animal has been handed down to us from the stories and experiences of the generations before. That’s why it’s so valuable to us and why we put such time and effort into it. It’s why we get the best gear we can. No one jumps at the chance to tell the story every year about the one we missed, or about leaving the stand early because they got too cold. No, Pennsylvania hunters aren’t only tough, they’re smart. They know how to dress and how to hunt the weather in our home state. There’s no half-hearted effort on opening day.
Respect for the animal also is the highest. You can see that by all the cars and trucks at the range the weeks prior to opening day. Sighting in rifles, tuning new scopes, trying new ammunition for a single clean shot and kill. When the deer is down, they go to work with the sharpest knives and knowhow. Maybe you use your grandfather’s old knife, or maybe you’ve got a new one for yourself this year. Eating the venison that comes from the whole deer has been the tradition as long as hunting has in Pennsylvania. Little to nothing is wasted. With recipes new and old, no crockpot, grill grate, or oven doesn’t see its share of work over the winter months with the treasured animal protein.
There are those who argue it’s a barbaric pastime where something has to die for an individual’s enjoyment. Glorifying the kill in a time and place where food scarcity hardly exists. That argument has no value, and hunters know it. The experience teaches a respect for the animal, for the land, for the benefit of hard work. You’ll appreciate that deer every time you share the story, long after the meat in the freezer is gone.