I did not grow up with Howard Hill or Fred Bear adventure stories.
To be honest, I didn’t know who they were until I was 14 years old and even then, it was because of Ted Nugent‘s television show. Hunting sounded like nothing more than a challenging adventure to me. There was a certain draw to it that I could not quite figure out.
My first real introduction to hunting came from my mentor and uncle. He taught me the ways of the past – tactics he learned from generations who never faced the small properties of modern suburbia. Old tactics were what they called old habits. Buck season became for them a holiday. Big deer drives were the main event, yet I never saw a buck during Buck Week. I found out pretty quickly that the best chances I would ever have to harvest a buck would be with a bow and arrow.
I delved into hunting, putting into practice the traditions I had been taught and reading hundreds of articles by prominent hunters throughout the industry. I sought to apply all of this knowledge only to learn a hard truth: hunting was not going to be easy. My coveted prize was the highly pressured, northwest New Jersey whitetails. If I wanted to hunt them, I knew I’d need to do it different than my predecessors.
So I experimented.
Because of my young age, I did not have much keeping me from the woods. I looked for adventure everyday in the tree line that skirted my back yard constantly adapting my methods. This past year, for the first time ever, I came across a couple books which spoke volumes to the type of hunting methods that I found myself adapting to.
The Urban Deer Complex and Urban Deer Complex 2.0 by A.J. DeRosa and Jesse St. Andre are the first books to capture the experience of the next generation of hunters. All the old saws of patterns, wind direction, and stand location do not really apply to the situations hunters face in the urban mecca of the northeast. The deer here are pressured not only by hunters, but by everyone in the neighborhood just living their daily life. As a result, you are not only patterning deer. You are patterning human activity: other hunters, joggers, dog walkers, traffic, little kids on playgrounds, and every other person whose behavior might affect a deer’s patterning.
Adventure burns in all of us, but we capture it in our own ways. What worked for our fathers might not work for us. Because of this, the importance of adapting is immeasurable, especially in the environment we hunt and live in. The animal we chase has evolved to thrive in a landscape consumed by humans. You can find the next generation of hunters behind McMansions, in suburban lots and anywhere else in the inescapable urban sprawl. Luckily for us, the deer want to be here.
The orange army still marches on.
For some, adventure stops when the season stops. They get their hunting fix and move on with their day-to-day lives. For others, we will never get our hunting fix. The tribulations of the next generation of hunting births madness within us. Buck fever hits us like a high. And like a high, we can never seem to get enough. Each failure causes us to work harder. Each adventure fuels a fire deep inside us. The serene atmosphere of our backyards is untamed wilderness.
Last modified: November 8, 2019