I have seen only two or three female hunters around my place. The game protectors say that many more women get licenses than appear in the woods, the inference being that certain husbands like to have an extra deer tag on hand for obvious reasons.
But during the season the fever runs rampant among the males. They will suffer awful miseries to get their buck. And when they get one their pride is ill-concealed. They ride the deer around on their cars, and they hang it up for all to see. A buck hanging in the yard is a trophy commanding the highest respect. One neighbor, the late Sonny Bryan, used to have a big buck hanging in front of his house each year before the hunting season was an hour old. It was generally believed that he somehow tied the buck to a tree the night before.
One pair of hunters carried a young buck out of the woods with the animal trussed to a pole they had cut. To see their air of smug satisfaction, you would think they had found the Kohinoor diamond back in the swamp. They untied the deer, and one of them held the pole in a moment of indecision. Then he threw it at my feet like a rich toff tossing a coin to a cabbie, saying, "You can have the pole." Why he thought I would want that bloody pole I will never know.
But only a small percentage of the redcoats are able to toss the pole as a gesture of success. Some of them hunt for years without getting their buck. As the woods and fens of old No. 56 echo to rifle shots and the deer sprint from thicket to thicket, I often talk to the hunters who come back to warm up in their cars or to eat lunch. They complain about all the private land being posted, about the great number of hunters, about the weather and the scarcity of bucks.
Those who are able are fleeing before the urban sprawl to places like Canada. Our section is about to be gobbled up by the megalopolis. More and more houses are being built, and the farms are being broken up into small plots. More people means more hunters, and old No. 56 is under heavier pressure than ever before. Ed Flexer, our local state-game manager, Bill Lockett, our game protector, and their men try to help conditions by improving the game lands and enforcing the law, but as far as the hunting fraternity is concerned the outlook is not encouraging. As one wise old Nimrod said to me, "God keeps making more hunters, but he ain't making any more land for them to hunt on."