Probably 20 years ago, a neighbor who was a natural outdoorsman climbed into a tree, sat down and, an hour later, arrowed a 12-point buck with one shot from his recurve bow, then trailed it a quarter-mile and found it.
The deer’s rack scored in the mid-150s, if I remember correctly. I interviewed the hunter and was impressed by his outdoors knowledge and shooting skill.
Today, I don’t know if he hunts deer or ever plans to hunt again.
A few years ago, I saw him at a driving range, hitting golf balls. He’d lost his hunting license, not because he’d been caught hunting out of season or poaching or doing anything illegal. A couple of years earlier, he had accidentally shot one of his best friends with 00 buckshot from a 12-gauge at a distance of maybe 25 feet. His friend, who took the load in his chest and face, nearly died.
My neighbor was distraught, especially when his friend’s mother tried to have him prosecuted. He ended up losing his hunting license for a year or two; I don’t remember the exact punishment. Luckily, he didn’t have to go to jail, but he probably wouldn’t have minded all that much.
The friend recovered after coming within inches of dying on the other side of an overgrown drainage ditch where my neighbor had thought the sounds his buddy was making indicated that a deer trying to escape.
They created the problem that day because neither wore any blaze orange during a man drive. They figured deer would be bedded down along the edges of a ditch that split two harvested corn fields. Walking on opposite sides of the ditch, which was filled with briars, brambles, tangles and small trees, they hoped to jump a whitetail and were ready to take a quick snap shot if one bolted out of the ditch and thicket’s edge.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has a “Home from the Hunt” safety campaign to remind hunters of the agency’s blaze-orange requirements.
North Carolina hunters must wear a cap, hat or an outer garment in blaze orange visible from all sides when using firearms to hunt bear, feral hogs, deer, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, pheasant or quail. Hunters also must wear blaze orange while hunting with a bow on Sundays during muzzleloader or gun seasons.
Blaze orange, sometimes known as hunter orange or fluorescent orange, is easily recognizable and signals caution. Besides that, wild game doesn’t wear blaze orange.
Home from the Hunt recommends anyone who spends time outdoors at hunted areas – hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders – should wear blaze orange. The clothing stands out against a green/brown/black/gray background, and studies have shown it increases visibility of the wearer in low-light situations. Blaze orange also can be helpful in locating someone lost or injured.
“Wearing blaze orange is an easy and convenient safety step,” said Travis Casper, the Commission’s Hunter Education Program coordinator.