Gone For The Day

Posted on October 27, 2020




“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.

I believe Jack Kulpa in an article he scribed, A Place In The Woods speaks volumes to what we are about to pursue,



“In autumn at the cabin, I’m made keenly aware that life is not so much a journey as it is a pursuit. It begins as a search for who we are before the chase begins for the things we desire. The lucky few among us eventually learn that the real prize is not the quarry but the quest. The quest is life and living; everything else is straw.

Contentment is the most elusive of quarries. For me, it was as long in coming as the first flock of bluebills. It was always there, like birds in a thicket, but I never knew it until I discovered satisfaction in the small and trifling things I do at the cabin: chopping wood, watching the weather, going for long walks with the dog and a gun toward an end that cannot be known. I no longer need or want it all because- to my way of thinking – I already have a lot; and a lot is more than enough. And because I’ve come to understand this, I am the luckiest of men. Autumn is the season of thanksgiving.”

As I begin my 52nd season on the whitetail track, I may be a tad bit slower, use my eyes and ears more than my legs, allow aged wisdom to over-ride boyish enthusiasm, and certainly take nothing for granted! Just enjoy to the fullest every moment of the entire experience.



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!



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Posted in: Whitetail Deer