I’M NOT MUCH OF a record-keeper when it comes to hunting. I have no idea how many ducks I shot last year. I’ve never had any of my bucks or bulls officially scored. I can’t remember the last time I put a tape measure to a turkey spur. After all, you can’t measure the things I’m really after, like the joy, hope, awe, frustration, and heartbreak of hunting.
But there is one record I do keep: I’ve killed at least one whitetail deer every season since I started hunting as a kid. Some seasons I’ve shot multiple big bucks (there have been plenty of small ones mixed in too), while other seasons I’ve been lucky to tag a doe. But for 23 seasons and counting, I’ve killed at least one whitetail from a treestand or from the ground, on a large tract of public land or over a bait pile on private land or somewhere in between.
I’ll likely never be a truly elite deer hunter (like some of the guys I interview in “Ground Game,” below). But I think, maybe, if I keep my streak going, I could one day go down as the most enthusiastic deer hunter of all time—the Joe DiMaggio of deer hunting. Deer are so fascinating, so dynamic, and so fun to hunt that I’ll never get tired of chasing them. I bet you feel the same way.
So we’ve dedicated this issue to the critters that our fall, and our hunting culture, truly revolves around: deer. We’re going beyond whitetail country to include stories like those of the muleys scratching out a living in the West (p. 28) and the axis deer taking over Hawaii (p. 38). In the first chapter of this issue, we’re focusing on familiar farm-country deer. In our second chapter we’re covering deer that live in truly wild places. I hope you enjoy the issue—and then go set your own record.
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