Gone For The Day

Posted on October 16, 2012



“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 words,

“…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 homeland.”                                                                                          –

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

    © 2012 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.


Posted in: Whitetail Deer