In some ways hunting (stalking) in the UK has always been different than in the U.S. For instance, dogs are traditionally used in the UK but here in The States we only use dogs for coon (raccoon) hunting, which is done at night - retrievers are used with game birds, but mostly to fetch dead birds.

Christmas season tradition

But while some of the poorest people in rural America do subsistence hunting around Christmas time for supplemental meat to feed their families, for many others hunting is actually a family event and for the rest, it is most often done by groups of friends year after year.

In other words, people aren’t out wandering around shooting at anything that moves out of bloodlust, instead it is a family and friend sport.

Consider how Christmas is similar to hunting season

All year

  • Preparation for the next year’s big day doesn’t start until several hours after the previous year.
  • Building tree hunting stands and cover gets the same attention out in the woods as home decorating does.
  • Making Christmas gifts and feeding deer both start weeks or months before the big day.

Self-gifting is always in season and you can always find a rational reason to try things out before the big day then bring them out as a surprise.

The last month before

  • Buying and testing out new gadgets and trying on new costumes are always in vogue
  • From holiday sweaters to reindeer PJs or new camouflage patterns and a joke deerstalker hat, new clothes are common.
  • New decorations for the home and film for the camera (or a fresh charge for DSLR battery) are essential at home while a new style of hand warmer and better game camera are prepared out in the garage or workshop.

Scouting out the best hunting locations or the best Christmas gift stores is essential even for people who don’t normally plan ahead to what they’ll have for dinner.

The day before

Preparing just the right food for the big day and either dieting or carb loading are in order depending on whether you will be facing a table of sweets and tempting dishes or out in the cold woods all day.

Anticipation increases day to day until the night before is often sleepless.

The evening before

Weather is a constant concern in the last few hours - kids wanting to try out a sled and hunters wanting to track deer are both wishing for fresh snow.

Clothes are laid out so there is one less thing to worry about in the morning.

Packing or last minute wrapping are in order.

Last second assembly of the latest high-tech gadgets takes place at a fevered, and often well-lubricated pace.

The big morning

Everyone wakes before the alarm goes off, if that is, they slept at all.

The ethics of hunting

Many animal lovers in cities think hunting Bambi’s mother is a terrible thing, but seeing deer crushed by cars or trucks which is so common that along many rural highways you can’t drive two miles without seeing a dead animal is also terrible.

So too are starving deer clashing with civilization to the point where they crowd out pets in suburbs.

Those of us who have to put down injured deer or have to watch them starving to death in lean years see things differently. With almost no wolves around to keep down the population without hunting deer would quickly reach overpopulation status to the point where farmers couldn’t raise human food and the Animals would all suffer from malnutrition or worse.

Hunters are also generally very respectful of their prey and walk for miles if necessary to finish off a wounded animal.

I won’t speak of the English fox hunt which is a very different event from shooting and almost instantly killing most targeted deer. In the Eastern US, no one but the few handicapped are permitted to hunt from a vehicle and no one hunts from horses chasing deer until they drop.