Friday, November 18, 2016


By: Lori Zeth
Deer Season

      I have such a flood of memories when the calendar changes over to November. I am blessed to have been born on November 1st, so I immediately celebrate my birthday. I hardly realize it is November until the next day. The month is such a bittersweet month for me. I have several family members who also celebrate birthdays in November. Then, there is Thanksgiving, of course. Black Friday, when the world goes mad for 24 hours. (I think the Purge series was created from a Black Friday nightmare) and…the hunters are preparing for deer season to begin.

      Growing up in Blair County, Pennsylvania meant I had to battle snow from October to April; I learned how to hunt and track well before I was permitted to carry a firearm; and diets do not exist in the fall and winter months (or the spring or summer months, either!). I learned how to bait a hook when I was five and shoot a gun before I turned ten. When all you have is the country, the country is all you have.

      My daddy would take me on his hunting trips every year. We stayed in our camper on the farm we hunted on. We set up our blinds a few days before we could hunt; we would build a fire and drink hot cocoa and roast marshmallows at night. Daddy would always make sure I had fun or I was learning when we weren’t busy preparing to hunt. He taught me a lot, wanting me to know as much as I could.
      I loved the breakfasts and meals that we would make. Sausage, bacon, scrapple, eggs, and home fries. My oldest brother, uncles, and cousin would join us for breakfast the first day of the season. We would all eat and then spread out all over the farm’s hills. My dad and I would stay close to our camper in case I was cold or tired. Thinking back now, that was the sweetest thing my daddy could have done. He wanted to be sure I was safe, whether it was deer season or not.
      I don’t remember a year that the 6 of us didn’t get more than one deer. My very first kill was also the first shot I ever took at a real deer. I accidentally shot a doe in buck season, but I used my doe tag and took her home anyhow. My brother shot a deer one year that we had to track for hours. I remember another deer that my dad carted to our truck on a four-wheeler because the corn field we had our blind sitting in wouldn’t allow Daddy to drag him.
      Being a tomboy of sorts comes with being a Pennsylvanian. I have a lot of experience in the outdoors: hiking, hunting, fishing, sports, camping, and the likes. My daddy would always be sure to include me in whatever he was doing. I was the older child, so I could understand and learn a bit easier than my kid brother – he is two years younger than me. My brother didn’t get to experience as much as I did with our father because he was still very young when Daddy passed away.
      It was February 1996; Daddy had been feeling chest pains for a week but hadn’t gone to the doctor to figure out the cause. He had a heart attack right in front of my kid brother, dying on the spot. He was only 39 years old. This November is the twentieth November without my father. Without hunting season, without my family, and without tradition. How have I gotten through nineteen other Novembers without my father? I feel like I love him so much and miss him so bad that I shouldn’t be able to survive even one November, let alone twenty.
      Twenty deer seasons without you. I just can’t believe it.


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