If you’re a bass fisherman, don’t you dare catch a fish on your first cast. Tradition has it that you’ll have lousy success the rest of the day. That’s why I usually flip my first cast out near the boat where no bass could possibly be lurking and retrieve it quickly before a fish finds it.
If you’re a hunter, there are many more traditions we deal with every hunting season. Of course, you remember what happened when you got your first deer. You were probably a little squirt and were proud to wear the badge of a successful hunter; you got blood from your deer liberally smeared over your face.
You also remember the first time you missed a deer; the “kind and compassionate” members of your hunting party un-ceremoniously relieved you of the tail of your shirt; it’s probably still hanging on the wall at the camp along with those shirttails of others who missed deer.
I was speaking at an outdoor event a few years ago and an elderly gentleman approached me after my talk and handed me a bag containing a couple of buckeye balls, the nut that grows on the buckeye shrub, a nut that looks somewhat like the eye of a deer.
“Put this in your pocket when you go hunting, rub on it and a buck will walk out by your stand”, he told me. I’ve tried it several times and all I’ve seen are squirrels and woodpeckers. Maybe I’m rubbing it wrong.
I did an internet search and picked up some traditions/rituals/superstitions from around the country practiced by deer hunters.
One bow hunter offered this…”I listen to ‘Fred Bear’ by Ted Nugent in order to make the transition from suburbia to the forest complete.” In case you don’t know who Fred Bear was, he’s the father of traditional bow hunting whose success with stick and string is legendary. Ted Nugent? He’s a rock star and a militant spokesman for hunting.
One of the strangest events is this one offered by a hunter…”I eat half a banana on my way to my hunting spot and bury the other half next to my stand. My grandmother told me my grandfather always did it and it seemed to work for him.” Hmmm….
The only ritual I cotton to involving my hunting has to do with squirrels. No matter if a hurricane is raging, rain is pouring, wind is howling or it hasn’t rained in a month and walking in the woods is like walking on corn flakes, I have to be there on opening day. Something about opening day of squirrel season was engrained in me as a youngster when my dad would get my brother and me all hyped up for squirrel season opening.
In tandem with my opening day ritual, another tradition closely follows and whether or not I get to engage in it depends on how my opening morning progressed.
Upon returning from my opening day squirrel hunt, I’ll select a young and tender squirrel from my bag, clean it and prepare it for my opening day brunch. Cutting the squirrel into quarters, I’ll dust it with flour, salt and pepper and fry it until golden brown.
While the squirrel is frying, I’ll pop some biscuits in the oven. In the past I made my own but since that gifted lady Mary B. came along, I’ve found that hers are better than mine anyhow.
Once the squirrel and biscuits are done, I’ll make gravy and spoon it over the biscuits and bite down on that tender sweet squirrel leg. No need for half a banana when you have this heavenly manna.