Hunting fever grips the Island

From left, Logan Harrison, Whit Cagle, Chanse Rose, Brady Clark and Hannah Carle on a recent hunt.

Photo provided

From left, Logan Harrison, Whit Cagle, Chanse Rose, Brady Clark and Hannah Carle on a recent hunt.

MJ Ivy

For my family, hunting season means a time when we all get together at deer camp and get to enjoy nature and just escape from other people for a while. I began going to the stand with my daddy before I could even walk myself there.

We go to a camp in central Arkansas on my family’s land. The day starts at 4:30 in the morning and we begin dressing in as many layers as you can and still be able to walk. The first rule my daddy taught me about walking through the woods is if you can hear yourself moving the leaves around, then the deer can hear you too.

After we have gotten all bundled up and topped with our orange, we grab a snack, our guns, and, of course, our Hothands then begin the hike to our stands and crawl up the tree to sit and wait on the perfect swamp donkey. It’s the most peaceful feeling to watch the sunrise over the frost covered leaves that have fallen to the forest floor. All around you, the squirrels play and you can hear other hunters take shots at their newest deer camp victory.

The morning trip usually ends around noon for the unlucky ones who saw nothing, and we all head back to help the other’s with their kills. The deer get hung up, skinned, and packed on ice to be carried home and made into many different southern classics. Hunting season entails many different varieties and comes with tons of traditions and stories for each person who participates.

Connor Miller

“I hunt duck and deer, and opening day is such an exciting time. To get ready for duck season, I pack a bag the night before with my chest waders, snacks, gloves, ammo, and duck calls. When we go duck hunting we go out to the St. Francis River. Sometimes you don’t see any ducks so you don’t ever shoot, but if it’s a good day you may use as many as 25 shots. You definitely take more people with you when you go duck hunting which makes it better.

“Deer hunting we go hunting on our land, but duck we go on Game and Fish land. I have killed five deer. We do a European mount which means you just leave them out in the sun and it deteriorates the skin off and so you’re just left with the skull. We take the deer to a place in Pocahontas and they skin it and get the meat prepared for us. Hunting is a big deal for my family. It’s something that’s been taught from generation to generation, but it isn’t just a family matter. I go hunting with my friends sometimes too. It’s something we can all just go out and do together to get our minds off of anything going on.”

Senior Trevor Couch
Photo provided
Senior Trevor Couch

Trevor Couch

“I hunt deer, dove, turkey, and duck. My dad and older brothers got me started hunting when I was little. Drake Cobb and I would go sit in the duck blind with our dads when we were four. I killed my first duck at the age of six, with a BB gun.

“Every season begins the same. After we have gathered all the usual gear, we make our annual Flash Market stop, and rock on to either the St. Francis River, Big Lake or the rice fields around Lepanto. If it’s been a good day, then a hunting day makes me feel proud and accomplished, if it’s not and we don’t kill anything then everyone is just tired and worn out.

“Hunting is definitely a way of life for my family. I have killed eight deer, a turkey and probably 1,000 each of doves and ducks. I took part in the “Blooding Rite” with my first deer and bit the head off of my first duck. When someone kills their first deer it is a tradition that they smear the blood on their face.

“My life would be boring without hunting and filled with sadness. There are always many things that could wrong on any trip, but I have seen someone get shot, we’ve run out of gas, broken the motor off the boat and had our blinds burned down. The guy who got shot was sitting on the ground hunting dove and someone across the field from him shot and accidentally hit him. Luckily he was okay, and the other guy didn’t get into any trouble for the mistake.

“Although the kill is what gives you that adrenaline rush, it’s about the time spent with family and the bonds and memories that are being made that me going year after year.”

I look forward to opening day more than Christmas. ”

— Tyler Hawkins

Sami Colby

“A hunting day means getting up at 5:30, grabbing breakfast and eating it in the stand. I normally stay out in the stand until almost dinner time because I just take breakfast and lunch with me. I started hunting with my dad, who learned from his uncle, when I was really little. In order to get ourselves prepared, we have to get our camo, guns, and ammo. I have to mentally prepare myself to be without phone signal or Internet. We usually just clean our guns whenever we have time on our own since my dad and I both work so much.

“My dad is president of a hunting club in southern Arkansas so that’s where we always go to hunt. There’s around 20 people in club, but we usually have 15 people on our camp site. We have a Thanksgiving meal together on our camp before we do with our families since we’re all at camp hunting on the holiday.”

Hunter Smith

“Hunting means getting up early in the morning, going out to our spot, and watching the sun rise with dew on the ground. For a hunting trip, we normally clean our guns before we go. Sometimes, we get up at 3 a.m. just to clean our guns before we head up to Mountain View to hunt deer. We have about five or six people that go up to camp with us. I hunt anything from dove to deer, minus duck of course.”

Sophomore Chanse Rose
Photo provided
Sophomore Chanse Rose

Chanse Rose

“I hunt duck, deer and dove. Duck see you a lot easier since they’re flying over, so I have to wear camo and a face mask. Any hunting day is just a great feeling. It’s something I grew up doing and I love it. My dad doesn’t hunt, but I go with my uncle, and the day before we go we all go out and eat together to get in the spirit. To get ready for duck hunting we get up at 4 a.m. to get out to the river and lay claims on our hole and get our decoys out before the sunrise.

“We hunt for duck around here or we go up to Dell. For deer we go to Hardy, where we have a camp. At our camp, we do believe in the blooding rite, which means we rub the blood of our first deer on our face.”

Tyler Hawkins

“I deer, dove and duck hunt. A hunting day means a lot. You don’t get a good cell reception, but it’s a place to get away. You can just go out there and be yourself and get away from the drama and everything.

“In order to get ready, we have to get our camo, salt blocks and sometimes scent away. I usually clean my gun before season and right after. You can definitely use doe urine on your boots that way bucks will come up during the rut. We usually go to Hardy because the deer are more common up there. I look forward to opening day more than Christmas. 

“Some just hunt for the thrill, but for some, it’s a way of life that has been passed from generation to generation. Opening day for whatever you’re hunting for is a much awaited time that we literally count down the hours to and lose endless hours of sleep for. I would have a far smaller appreciation for my fingers and toes had I not spent countless winter mornings sitting in a deer stand.

“I grew up on the farm, and, at first, I thought that hunting was boring and I hated being cold and getting up early, but as the years passed I realized I learned the most valuable lessons and got the best stories up in those stands.”