Wisconsin deer hunters should be naturalists, too

A few – certainly not all – gun deer hunters rarely notice the plants and animals, fungi and algae, that make up the community where they hunt.

There’s more in the forests, fields, and marshlands than bucks and does.

Are you slipping on red or white oak acorns? Was this a good year for walnuts? Are the wild grapes still holding on when the nine-day gun deer season opens? What’s eating the dried grapes? Could we call them raisins? Are there more fox or gray squirrels in the woods? Can you separate a hen turkey clucking from a chipmunk chipping? Why are the oak leaves still on some of the oak trees? Do the deer eat the dry leaves? Can you pick out a dead white elm tree, a place worth revisiting next May for morels?

Who cares, you might ask? Noticing what’s out and about gives a hunter a fuller picture of the places we hunt. The deer are there because the other organisms are present.

Some of it has to do with appreciating all of nature, regardless of whether or not it impacts a hunt – or hunting overall.

Being observant is what hunters do.

Developing into a woodsman is what hunters strive to do.

If you see something that is unrecognizable, find out what it is.

We’re not hunting in a feedlot. Even there, we must watch where we step.

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