Anticipation of deer hunt never grows old

Jerry Apps
Jerry Apps' son Steve bagged this big buck back in 2017.

That mid-November morning in 1946 was dark and cold. I was up at five and hurried out to the barn with my barn lantern to help with morning milking and chores. I had turned 12 in July, old enough to buy a deer hunting license and go deer hunting with my dad and our neighbor, Bill Miller.

After a quick breakfast, we loaded our hunting gear in the 1936 Plymouth, picked up Bill and drove about three-quarters of an hour to where Dad and Bill had hunted for many years. To a place near the Roche A Cri River in Adams County.

Arriving just as the sun was creeping over the horizon, Pa asked me to walk along the banks of the Roche A Cri, driving any deer that might be there. He said that he and Bill would be waiting about a mile farther on downriver, at a place where the river ran through an open area. A place where they could bag a deer.

I had dad’s double-barrel twelve-gauge shotgun, that weighed a ton and had barrels half as long as I was tall. They said to wait for 15 minutes so they’d have time to get in place. After a time, I started my walk along the river. The sun was warm on my back and the gun got heavier with each step. I stopped, leaned the gun against a tree, and watched the river. I finally made it to where Pa and Bill waited and wondered what had happened to me. “Where are the deer?” Pa asked. I had no answer.

Now, so many years later, I am once more looking forward to the annual deer hunt.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: For many Wisconsin families, deer hunting is a revered family 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