Deer hunting time for storytelling, reminiscing

Jerry Apps
Jerry Apps' grandson, Nick Apps on his first hunt.

It is only an orange cap you say. What’s the big deal? The big deal is that it is a symbol of one of Wisconsin’s many traditions—the annual gun deer season. A blaze orange cap is on the list of Wisconsin’s important symbols: Turkey – Thanksgiving. Christmas tree – Christmas. Fireworks – Fourth of July.

Especially in rural Wisconsin, never plan a wedding, a funeral, or anything else where you expect people to attend. They will not come. The men, and more women each year are out in the woods, wearing blaze orange, looking for a deer.

I must confess that I am part of the tradition. I hunted deer for the first time with my dad in 1946, the year I was old enough to buy a license. And I haven’t missed a year since—not even when I was in the army. These days, I hunt with my son, Steve, who hasn’t missed a year since he was twelve.

We also hunt with my brother Donald and his sons, Marc, Matt and Eric. Need I say that for our family, deer hunting, as it is for many, is much more than bagging a deer. It’s a time for storytelling and reminiscing: “Remember that 10-point buck you missed back in 82? Or that season when it was below zero every day?”

It’s a time to connect with relatives. It’s a time away from hurry-up lives we all have these days. Don’t tell anyone, but for me, it’s also a great time for a nap in the woods.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Deer hunting: A Wisconsin sacred tradition.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to