Opening weekend of firearms season here in Indiana has always been a tradition for my family. It’s something that my brothers and I always looked forward to. We’d spend the night before rushing around the house, gathering our things, and arguing over who would get the first shot. In the morning, we’d eagerly get out of bed (that’s about the only time we would without complaint), get dressed, and hop in the truck. Three of us would squeeze into a buddy stand and await sunrise. Every year it was the same; the same stand, the same time, the same people. It was a tradition that I could count on to never change, but time has a funny way of changing things anyway.
Eventually, my second younger brother, Brandon, was old enough to tag along, forcing someone out. At first, we would take turns on who went out in the morning and evening, but eventually dad decided we didn’t need him with us anymore. (That or he decided he’d have a better chance sitting by himself.) Sitting in a treestand with one brother is enough to make a girl go crazy, but sitting with two was absolutely mad. When they weren’t pestering me, they were fighting with one another. I will never understand how we killed any deer during those years.
Now, time has changed the tradition again. No longer do the three of us sit together. We didn’t even hunt on the same property this last weekend. When I left Saturday morning to head to the stand, I realized just how quickly things are changing. Old traditions are being replaced by new ones. Instead of hunting with my father and brothers Saturday, I spent my day in the woods with Kyle in the same stand I’ve spent every opening morning. We saw a few does and a couple small bucks, but decided to pass. Instead, we spent the time talking and enjoying our time together while doing what we love. Living 3 hours away from one another these last few months has been tough, but holding onto the things that brought us together in the first place has helped. I’m slowly learning that the traditions may change, but the significance will always remain. That’s what is important.
Besides the sentimental associations I make with opening weekend, it was an unprecedented beginning of firearms season for Indiana. In years past, Hoosiers were limited to certain handguns, shotguns, and muzzleloaders. With the passage of HB 1231, rifles chambered in .243, .30-30, .300, .30-06 or .308 with a minimum case length of 1.16-inches are legal for use. Now some public lands, like the HRI properties near my house, have prohibited their use.
I assumed the orange army would come out stronger than ever, but I was surprised to say that where I hunted opening morning, there were much fewer shots than normal. I hunt in a heavily wooded area adjacent to a river bottom full of agricultural fields. Usually the entire basin echoes with the shots of anxious hunters from first light until mid morning on opening day. It’s something I’ve become accustomed to, so it was interesting that I heard less shots than I ever have. However, the unusually warm November we’ve had so far couldn’t have helped. It was 55°. Those warm temperatures aren’t exactly ideal when you’re trying to catch a mature buck chasing a doe.
With highs only reaching the 40’s this coming weekend, I’m hoping something a little larger than a fork horn will meander past my stand when I actually get the time to be in it. I know firearms seasons are kicking into full swing around the heartland, so good luck to all of you! Let me know how you do 😊