What is your dream whitetail hunt? Does it take place in a manicured field of crops or someplace still wild enough to get lost? If you’ve spent any considerable amount of time chasing whitetails, chances are you’ve already done the former. So, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that your dream hunt probably involves chasing whitetails somewhere different, somewhere wild, somewhere where your body and mind are put to the test.
I’ve walked for whitetails in western Minnesota farm country, gutted deer in suburban backyards and grunted atop the bluffs of the Wild and Scenic St.Croix River. I’ve done deer drives down drain ditches, pursued bucks in lust on haunting Halloweens, and spent numerous after-school afternoons in a tree alongside a neighbor mowing his grass. And, I’ve hunted wild lands of the West, but my dream whitetail hunt remains but a dream: a backcountry whitetail hunt by canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).
Just as most fishermen don’t start with a fly rod, most hunters don’t start with a bow in the backcountry. Yet, as hunters become more experienced, most desire something more than gunning down a backyard buck over a bait pile. They want something more.
It seems un-American not to want something more. Yet, when it comes to hunting and angling, less is often more. As we progress through the five stages of hunting, we turn to more primitive means of take in search of an experience that is more challenging, more rewarding and more memorable. The wild backcountry lands, such as those found in the BWCA, offer an opportunity to fulfill this desire. Wild lands offer experiences of solitude, challenge and reflection in areas free of technology, motors and noise.
For hunters who understand this concept and who perhaps someday dream of pursuing whitetails in habitat that remains the same as it was for the Native Americans, you’ll be glad to know that there are still plenty of places to chase this dream; places still wild enough to hear the buck breath. The wilds are what make out nation great and what keep the hunter’s dream alive. To keep the dream alive, we must keep the wilds alive. As Aldo Leopold once said “the richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boon, nor even in the present, but rather in the future.”
What about you? Do you dream of shooting a baited deer from a pick-up truck that was raised behind a fence? Or do you dream of something more?