Gone For The Day

Posted on October 18, 2011


“I hoped it would reveal an exciting new outlet for those who find civilization’s
artificial environment unfulfilling … and that it would motivate readers
everywhere to pull on a pair of old shoes and go see for themselves the things that
make a naturalist’s life so endlessly fascinating.”  
– Ned Smith



For many years Pennsylvania Game
News Magazine had renowned illustrator and wildlife artist, Ned Smith as its most popular
monthly columnist. Ned had a sign that he posted on his door each time he left
for the woodlands, Gone for the Day.


Well folks, I too am about to be,
Gone for the Day. It’s time to head off to the hinterland in search of buckskin
and bone. Time to reunite with all that is wildest and most free. In Ned’s own

“…how do you express the long
wait between seasons, the excitement of opening day, the abiding friendships
that are fashioned in the out-of-doors? How do you describe the feel of an old
hunting coat, beaten into shape by underbrush and weather, a repository for
game, ammunition, and the odd collection of items so dear to a hunter’s heart?
How do you express your affection for a favorite gun? How do you describe the
feel of familiar time-polished walnut in your hands, the heft of a finely
balanced smooth-bore that fits like a glove and becomes an extension of your
own two arms? How do you convince a non-hunter that an old gun exudes warmth
and friendship and a thousand memories at the touch of its owner’s hands?


How do you express these things?
You don’t. You can’t. You merely continue to enjoy being a sportsman, deriving
a measure of comfort (from the hunt itself.)”


As I depart, the once vibrant multi-colored leaves
have long since deadened their appearance with the passing of time, and on the
current of a whimsical breeze, have slipped their surly bonds floating
helplessly to their death knell upon the woodland floor. Trees that were once
filled to overflow capacity with nature’s fruitful bounty now stand
statuesquely naked with only a remnant of nuts sporadically sprinkled beneath
the skeletal limbs that first bore them. Squirrels anxiously scurry in a
frenetic pace to gather all of these treasures before they become buried
beneath winter’s dormant blanket. For on the slate blue horizon looms a bank
head of ominous, billowing, clouds brimming with frozen precipitation. Peacefully
the first flakes of snow will come sauntering down, but before long, the
intensity of the storm’s fury is unleashed and the deer tracker’s world quickly
transforms into an unsullied, featureless landscape of white.

There will undoubtedly be newfound joy and excitement
within the deer tracker’s backwoods bailiwick, happiness the likes of which
even the most miserable of dispositions can’t extinguish. The magician has
waved his magic wand producing an all-revealing tablet of pristine parchment in
which the comings and goings of the forests inhabitants will be clearly etched.

 I can almost feel my pulse quicken as I type
these words due to the mere thought that in only a few days I will once again
be on the track in some remote forest pursuing the greatest game animal God
ever created. Even after more than four decades of hunting this grand creature, the white-tailed deer, my
enthusiasm for the chase and respect for the animal has yet to diminish. You
see, “When pursuing whitetails,” deer historian, Rob Wegner explains,
“We divert and distract ourselves from industrial madness and its laborious
occupations. When we leave the city of Degeneration and go to the woods, it is
astounding how naturally and quickly we free ourselves from worry, tension and
temper. A fresh and fragrant atmosphere once again circulates through our blood
as we become submerged in nature. It’s almost like returning to the old

     And then there’s this nugget from Roger Rotthaar, “All the attributes
normally accredited to good hunters such as patience, perseverance, and
knowledge, while important, do not seem to be the real key to which level of
success one achieves. Instead, all these seem to be the end result of another
more important aspect of hunting which is, once again the attitude with which
it is undertaken. In my opinion, the desire to hunt should be the result of
fascination, curiosity, and deep respect for the natural things and how well
one does at it is directly dependent upon those things.”


Time is now slipping away.  With several things still left on my
checklist to pack I must attend to this crucial matter. But before I bid you
adieu, I wish all of you the best of deer seasons. May yours be filled with
memories that will last for a lifetime, and may the end of your drag rope be
filled with antlers and deer flesh. Until December my friends…Gone for the Day!  



All images on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier

    © 2011 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.


Posted in: Whitetail Deer