Hunting is an integral part of a collective past. No matter where you come from, your ancestors hunted and gathered to survive. Nowadays, though our survival no longer depends on the hunt, we still display many traits that helped us when were both the hunter and the hunted. As prey we were keenly aware of our surroundings; when danger was afoot the hairs on the back of our necks stood up as our hearts raced to ready us for flight or fight.
Today as the first frost approaches, hunters in Tyendinaga begin to ready themselves for the hunt. There may be some newcomers and old timers who decide to make their way to the Quinte area. Local hunters from Tyendinaga have shared some sage advice:
Deer are intelligent
“When [deer] hear those one or two shots, they know,” Jamie Kunkel of Tyendinaga says, “so they go in deeper where they know hunters are less likely to be.” He even suggests certain locations: “A Provincial Park is a great place for First Nation hunters to go because white people can’t go there, but we can.” Kunkel also suggests provincial beaches – just be sure to check guidelines as beaches permit only shotguns only, while provincial parks allow rifles.
Many hunters hunt relatively close to the road because it is easier to retrieve a deer. However, the further into the woods you go, the higher your chances of seeing a buck. Just be sure that you have appropriate man power to retrieve your kill. Kunkel adds, “The minute you kill the deer is the same minute it begins to decompose. Taking out the guts slows down the process” and makes for a lighter load.
“Aiming for the largest part of the deer isn’t always best,” says Adam Green, an avid hunter. “A stomach shot may not immediately kill him. The least a hunter can do for a deer who just gave his life is ease his suffering.” If you need another reason to go for the kill shot, there are some who say the meat tastes different if the deer was afraid when it died. The common belief is a scared animal is more gamey due to adrenaline.
So where is this kill shot? According to Anthony DeNicola, “Draw a line from tear duct to tear duct, then go 2 ½ to 2 ¾ inches above that line.” If that’s a little too precise, then shoot right between the eyes. Not only is the kill shot humane, it also ensures you get the most from the meat.
Remember to put down your tobacco
Taking tobacco with you on a hunting trip doesn’t mean your pack of smokes. A couple pinches of tobacco for the deer or any wild game that gave its life is a sign of respect to the Creator and everything He created.
Hunting isn’t for everyone, but it is in the blood of most young Haudenosaunee men. Tyendinaga men are no different. For the upcoming season, remember their tips: go deeper into the woods, try provincial parks and provincial beaches, go for the kill shot every time and be sure to bring tobacco to show your respect.