Many deer hunters fortunate enough to live in an area adjacent to good deer covers, will hunt from their home base, just as they do for squirrels, rabbits, grouse, or other upland game.
The majority, however, like to make something of a production out of their deer hunting, to rough it for a week or two in company with congenial friends.
For many, the fellowship of the hunting camp constitutes a major appeal of the sport itself, and as the grass is always greener and more lush in distant fields, distance has its charm.
Even here, there is an important decision involved. It is necessary to decide on the type of terrain-wilderness or farm-fringe. This decision can have a definite effect on the success of the expedition, for the average hunter stands a better chance of getting a deer in the farm-fringe area than in the big woods.
The novice hunter has the illusion that the big woods are full of deer and that only a few hang around the boundaries of the farmland.
Actually, the concentrations are far greater in the farm-fringe areas, and for a very sound reason, there is more food and better food. Any farmer in an area where deer are present will testify to this.
Although there are more deer in the farm-fringe areas, there are also more hunters. In many instances, this does not cut down your chances of success, and if you are an experienced hunter it can even increase those chances.
A number of hunters think the more they move around the more shots they’ll get, which results in stirring the deer up and offering the knowing hunter a chance for a shot. At the same time, it increases the chance of hunting accidents. To the hunter who wants to get away from it all, of course, this area is tabled without delay.
Wilderness hunting also has two facets, and by will darkness I mean the extensive first or second-growth areas, with little or no farming and few towns or highways. The more wild and isolated the country is, the less competition you will find from other hunters. The farther you penetrate this wilderness, the more hunting solitude you find.
Thousands hunt the road fringes, but as you move one, two and five miles from the access road your solitude increases. In parts of Maine, Minnesota, Idaho and other states where such areas exist, you can hike or canoe ten or even twenty miles from the nearest road. There you will be almost certain to have the deer herd to yourself—and the solitude and grandeur that can be found nowhere but in a wilderness.
The wilderness has a fascination that differs with the individual. The experienced woodsman is attracted by the opportunity it offers to escape from civilization, to rest ulcers and tattered nerves contracted by the tensions of urban living.
To the novice, the fascination is tied in with a mystery that is often coupled with a sense of danger sharpened by the unknown. Normal wilderness noises have an ominous quality that is banished only when experience proves them harmless.
My friend Gerald Kenwell, whose father lived much of his life along the south branch of the Moose River, in the central Adirondacks, when that region was wild and remote, tells of friends who asked his father to describe the most blood-curdling and awful sound” he ever heard while living in the woods. The questioners expected to hear an exciting tale of wolves or panthers, but the old man disappointed them.
“The most awful sound I ever heard,” he would then pause dramatically-“was the scraping of the scoop on the bottom of the flour barrel. It meant a fifty-five-mile hike out to town for more flour.”
The fact that there are fewer deer, along with fewer hunters for hunting deer using a rimfire rifle and equipment. In the big woods might lessen your chance of success somewhat, but certainly not enough to decide the question.
The decision, in most instances, depends upon the ability of the hunter to afford the time and expense of reaching the big woods area selected, and upon the pleasure to be found by spending a short time in truly natural surroundings.