For some, it’s a chance to get out of the house and into the woods, where they can become a part of a peaceful stillness as the sun begins to rise on a cold autumn morning.
For others, it’s a family tradition — passed down from their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers — that they, too, plan to pass on to their children and grandchildren. And for others, it’s the sheer adrenaline rush, the culmination of preparation, patience and luck.
Hunters have been waiting for this weekend — the opening of rifle season — since February, when the last hunting season ended. And for those who love a hunter, they know they probably won’t be seeing them around on most mornings, afternoons or weekends for the next 3½ months.
“I don’t mind him going,” Kerensa Ford of Hartselle said of her boyfriend Zebulon Ferguson’s hunting plans. “He invited me to go with him, and I might go this year. But I look at it as his time to go have fun. ... I just don’t think I’d like being in the cold.”
While many women prefer to stay in the warmth of their homes, Ashlee Beggs, 20, of Somerville has spent the past four winters deep in the woods wearing head-to-toe camouflage. She and her brother, Jeremy Woodall, 32, hunt together on their family’s property off Cain Road.
“My brother came home one day with this huge 8-point buck,” Beggs said.
“I saw it and said, ‘I want one.’ And I’ve been hooked ever since. We always try to see who can get the most deer or the biggest one.”
Last year, the siblings tied with two deer each. However, Woodall got a 7-point buck to Beggs’ a 6-point.
“The first two years, I had to use one of his guns, but when my grandfather finally realized he couldn’t get me out of the woods, he bought me my own — a Mossberg 270,” she said.
Jeff Solway, 48, of Moulton, plans to make his way to a tree stand Saturday morning. He looks forward to hunting with his nephews as they teach their children to hunt — and do it safely.
“I started going with my father when I was about 15 or 16 years old,” Solway said. “I’ve always enjoyed hunting with family and friends. I’d rather see one of my nephews or one of their girls get a deer than shoot one myself.”
Solway said more females are going on hunting trips these days, whether it be spouses, girlfriends, daughters or sisters.
“My best friend loves going with her boyfriend,” Beggs said. “She went with him last weekend when he got a 6-point while bow hunting.”
For many hunters, the only thing more fun than being in the woods and waiting for deer to stroll by is talking about it. And every hunter has the “big one” that got away, Solway said.
“I’ve got plenty of those stories,” he said. “I’ve had some deer nearly run me over while I was trying to get in the tree stand. I’ve had a doe sniffing my feet and stamping and me not being able to move to get into position. It happens to everybody.”
Beggs said when she first started hunting, her hands would shake uncontrollably anytime a deer would wander into her crosshairs.
“My brother was good about calming me down so I could relax and just shoot,” she said. “The first time, I shot three times and missed. I just squalled. He told me everyone misses, especially the first time.”
Deer season will end Jan. 31, but hunting for quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel and possum will continue through Feb. 28. According to Alabama Wildlife, there are more than 250,000 licensed hunters and 1.3 million acres of public hunting land in the state.
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