Deer hunting is more than just bagging a deer

Jerry Apps
Deer hunting has always been and will always be about storytelling. And some of those tales even may be true.

Opening day of the deer gun season. Number 76 for me. “You’re still deer hunting?” A question I hear on occasion. “Yes,” I answer with a smile. “Wouldn’t miss it.”

I must confess that weatherwise, this opening day for the 2022 deer gun season was no prize. The temperature hung around 18 degrees, the wind blew from the northwest, and snowflakes fell. Fell so hard that at times I couldn’t see across the little field where I was sitting. We already had two-three inches of snow at Roshara, and within a half hour or so we added another quarter to a half inch. If you like to sit in a snowstorm—and believe it or not, if I’m dressed properly, and I was, I rather enjoy it.

In my early days of deer hunting, bagging a deer with bragging rights was always my goal. Then for a number of years, filling the freezer with venison was the goal. Especially when the family numbered five and my income was on the low side. For the past 20 years or so, bagging a deer was a secondary goal, being with family was first, and being outside, no matter what the weather was always a goal. I have always enjoyed the sights and sounds of nature—and deer season is one time to do that.

I remember so well the days when my dad hunted deer—he did it into his early 90s. In those days, the family hunters included my brothers, and my sons. Three generations.

One of the stories passed on over the years was when my dad was 92, and he was standing on a little hill with my son, Steve. They spotted three deer running across a field some 100 yards away, maybe more depending on who was telling the story. “Is one a buck?” Dad asked. “The middle one,” Steve answered.

Dad pulled up his 30-30 Savage rifle, and fired one shot. The buck deer dropped, shot through the neck. When asked why he shot it in the neck. His answer, “Didn’t want to spoil any of the meat.” He said it with a big smile on his face.

This year the crew hunting at Roshara included me, my son, Steve, my brother Donald; his three sons Marc, Eric, and Matt, and Matt’s son, Ian. Three generations once more.

I did not bag a deer. My nephew Eric did. He is a true deer hunter. But once more, we all have stories to tell. Deer hunting has always been and will always be storytelling—some of them even may be true.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: There is so much more to deer hunting than bagging a deer.

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 or contact him