“One shot with this, and the deer should crumble,” Kyle says to me as he shows me his newly purchased Tikka with a .300 Winchester Magnum. I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but clearly it is a powerful weapon. He explains that the six-pound rifle is so light that the kick from it bruises his shoulder when firing. It is Friday, November 16th, and I have the pleasure of going on my first hunting trip. I have no idea what to expect, but my friend, Kyle Symons, has kindly allowed me to tag along with him on this adventure.
My day started with me putting on more clothes than I have ever worn in my life: three pairs of pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and two jackets. After trekking into the backwoods of Kingsley, I was nervous that these layers would prevent me from being able to climb into the tree stand. I felt (and looked!) like the child from A Christmas Story. After waddling my way up the ladder, Kyle and I had some time to sit and wait for the sun to rise. It was wonderfully peaceful, and only a little like The Blair Witch Project.
Kyle has been rifle hunting since he was 14, and has developed a deep knowledge and understanding of deer behavior and patterns. He said that he can figure them out up until opening day, when other hunters fill the woods and completely throw off their routines. With his sharp hunter ears, he leaned over to me at one point and asked, “Did you hear that?” I hadn’t. I held my breath and listened closely – I was happy to hear shuffling noises. I took these to mean that deer were nearby. It was still quite dark, so we couldn’t see anything and no shots were fired.
While waiting for deer to come out, I had the opportunity to ask Kyle an abundance of questions. As a true Michigander, he enjoys the sport of muzzleloader hunting as well. It gives him the opportunity to hunt when the woods are less populated with fellow hunters, considering most people give up after rifle season.
He also uses bait to appease the appetites of the deer, and enthusiastically mentions, “I put out corn, carrots, acorns, apples, and a mineral block. It’s like a buffet for ’em!”
After a few hours, Kyle thought we should call it a day. He said that if nothing had come out yet, we probably wouldn’t have any luck. Though we did not end up seeing any deer, I had a surprisingly wonderful time. Kyle said I did a really good job of being quiet and thinks I would make a good hunter. I also had the pleasure of seeing my boyfriend’s parents cut up a deer on their kitchen table. That, along with the shocking photos of dead deer that my step-dad showed me, marks this as a memorable trip up north, to say the least.
Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer