This is an article I wrote several years ago and figured I would bring it back to life since it is a slow part of the year for us whitetail "Addicts"! Hope 'yall enjoy!
I’m an addict. It’s plain and simple. That’s become the only way for me to describe my actions, my thoughts, and my way of life. It seems I have to have it. I have to get my “fix,” and it doesn’t matter what I have to do or where I have to go to get it. What am I talking about? Hunting. Just about any kind will do, but specifically the whitetail. The mature whitetail buck is my drug of choice and I have to have a dose at least a couple of times each day. This addiction has caused trouble in many lives emotionally, financially, and in the marital department and does not discriminate by geography, sex or age. It is time I look at my actions and fight this “demon” head on.
I started noticing a change many years back. It started for me back in high school. My junior year I began dating a girl whose Dad owned around 2,000 acres. A little over half of that land was hardwood timber surrounded by agriculture fields. For me to say the deer population was abundant would be an understatement. During this time I was introduced to the world of archery. I had grown up deer hunting and had killed several deer with a gun but archery was new and exciting. I tried to soak it all in and listened intently when anyone began talking of shooting or almost having a shot at a whitetail with a bow. I shot a borrowed bow but practiced with it daily until I felt comfortable. I soon learned the ins and outs of shooting enough to venture into the woods on October 1st. The year was 1993 and this is the year that my addiction began.
My first bow hunt was on the morning of October 1st, 1993. I had been in the stand for an hour when I noticed movement from my left. I was hunting a dim road between two cypress brakes that lead to the fields surrounding the woods. The movement that had caught my eye was a doe that had taken the easy route back to her bedding area and decided to make the stroll down the road. I stood up in the homemade climbing stand that I had made in Ag shop in High School and tried to contain the excitement that had my whole body trembling. The questions raced through my mind. How was I going to draw my bow? How far was she? Could I make the shot? As the doe walked behind a pin oak tree I drew my bow back and settled the 20 yard pin right behind her shoulder. I released the arrow, and to be honest, I really don’t remember much after that except for the briar thicket that she ran into. I gave her about 15 minutes and got down in search of blood. I trailed her for about 50 yards on my hands and knees through the thicket until I stumbled upon her. Although I don’t remember the shot, it was perfect! I went on to kill a 4 pt buck two days later; I shot him at 10 yards and he fell in my sights. “Bow hunting was easy,” I thought. I would be proved wrong in the years to come and it only fueled the fire for my addiction.
Why Did it Happen to Me?
What makes me a whitetail addict? I have asked that question many times and still have not come up with a logical explanation. Is it the chance of killing a record book buck or just my personal best? Is it bragging rights? Is it the peacefulness of sitting 20ft in a tree watching the sunset? Is it the preparation the season brings in hopes of running an arrow through the boiler maker of a whitetail and feeling the success? I have searched for the answer since that day fifteen years ago and each year it seems to get worse. I find myself doing things and going places that will help me feed my addiction. Let me explain some things that myself, family, and other addicts have noticed. This so called “whitetail addiction,” as I describe it, is the only excuse that I can come up with to explain what begins to happen around the end of July. It is the only way that I can explain the sudden transformation that tends to take place. Make no mistake: bow hunting whitetails is on my mind 365 days a year, but it is at this time that the thoughts become more frequent and began to control my actions. It is this addiction that has me bush-hogging roads, fighting wasps at the camp and on stands, watching the ground intently for rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, and moving and adjusting lock-on stands. All this preparation is done in the hot, one-hundred degree summers in Louisiana. There have been many times that I have looked at my buddy, Greg, and asked, “Why? Why do we put ourselves through this? We must be crazy!” No, we’re just addicted to shooting whitetails.
Its Impact on Others
Not only does this “disease” affect me, but it has a tendency to reach out to loved ones. It has caused numerous squabbles and fights between my wife and me. During hunting season, I have a tendency to get in what athletes call “the zone.” Each waking moment is concentrated on my next hunt, where the acorns are falling, or where that smasher buck can be ambushed. It consumes me until I tend to lose track of the important things in life, such as my wife and kids. My wife will let it go for a while, but the time often comes when she must have an ”intervention” and put me back on the straight and narrow. This is done by either a soft spoken, “Baby, you need to stay out of the woods for a while,” or the serious verbal “slap in the face” to get my attention. She does her best to understand, but until a person actually suffers from this ailment there is no way to completely comprehend it. For example, a couple of years ago I woke up on opening morning of bow season after a restless night. I got dressed and kissed my wife goodbye, whispering in her ear, “I’ll see you in February!” It was time to feed the addiction; however, she did not find that to be as comical as I did.
During the spring and summer, there is little to do concerning whitetails besides shed hunting or some scouting after the season. To fill this void, I have found several internet sites that contribute to my addiction. These hunters suffer from the same thing as myself and offer some relief during the long summer months. Whether it is giving advice on equipment, swapping stories, or just chatting about last year’s hunts, they fill a void that the hot weather brings. I have made numerous friends the last for years, which has allowed me to extend my bow hunting opportunities outside of Louisiana. These trips to Georgia, Alabama, and Illinois have allowed me to test myself against different terrain and different species of whitetails. It’s just another way for this addict to get his “fix!”
Will this desire to hunt ever end? For me, I hope not. It is one of the things that make me feel alive. So each year I will keep preparing the camp, food plots, and stands in the Louisiana heat in hopes of harvesting a trophy buck. I will keep discussing last year’s hunts with friends who understand what it means to suffer from “buck fever.” Each October will open to me perched 20 feet off of the ground with my bow in hand with hopes of satisfying my “whitetail addiction.”