East vs West

If you are an Easterner you are either a Northerner or a Southerner. Some that live in the South (Most folks don’t really know where the South is or what it means to live there.) say the war is not over and that they never surrendered, the Union just took their horse and made him surrender. Regardless, Rebel or a Yankee, the hunting in the East is pretty much the same; lots of hardwoods and lots of trying to figure out the best place to ambush a buck or a bear.

They hunt different out west. Mostly, they spot an animal and try to sneak up on it. Westerners think this is REAL hunting and look at the Easterners that travel west to hunt as, well, lesser predators.

Not a lot of westerners go east to hunt. Granted, there is a wider selection of game in the West but I believe this is mostly because the hunting is harder in the East. How would I know? I’ve done both, on public and private land. The hardest deer and black bear hunting I’ve ever done has been in VA and WV. By contrast, the easiest has been in Montana. And of course Texas which is kind of west and south.

Once, I was telling a Texas hunter how tough the whitetail hunting is in the Appalachia Mountains. He said, “You gotta getcha a feeder.” I tried to explain that deer in the hills like acorns better than corn and that the big bucks avoid feeders like a cowboy does Lady GaGa. The Texan thought I was a fool.

Binoculars are a must in the west and knowing how to use them properly is a skill. Most western hunters know how to glass. Most easterners don’t. Many don’t even hunt with binoculars. They assume that since they are usually in dense cover their eyes are good enough to spot any deer that might come round. This is a mistake. Dad taught me early on how to use binoculars and it was a valuable lesson.

Many easterners are not very good at shooting at western ranges either. This is not really a fault; in the eastern hardwoods, you generally put the sight on the critter and pull the trigger without much regard for range. Western guides are notorious for their stories about eastern hunters that can’t shoot. It’s not that they can’t shoot; it’s just that they have never seen that much open ground between themselves and an animal they could shoot. We are all somewhat a victim of our environment.

What eastern hunters are good at is finding sign, anticipating where animals will be at certain times and at shooting on a moment’s notice, when a buck or bear magically appears out of nowhere at 45 yards, running through the timber. Basically, just applying the same skills our ancestors used to fight the Indians and the Red Coats.

In the end, it does not matter if you are an eastern or western hunter. What matters are smiles and memories and the best way to make either is to get out there and go hunting. Few things are as fun as glassing a big mule deer buck under blue skies with the smell of sage all around. If you are an Eastern hunter I firmly suggest you try to do so.

For me, sneaking into the hills before sun up, under a canopy of leafless oaks and near a babbling creek – where you know a whitetail buck has been using – -is an adrenalin rush as well. One that is magnified by 100 when that buck slips in to bed down or rushes in with his nose to a doe. If you’re not ready, your chance will vanish in seconds and all you’ll be left with are the shakes. One encounter like that per year is all I need and about all I can handle.

Hunters east and west may be different but two things they have in common are the love of the hunt and an unmatched skill of stretching the truth when they are around a campfire. There real question might be, who are the best liars.

Let me tell you about the buck my son almost got a shot at this year…

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About gunwriter

Born and raised in the West Virginia hills, Richard literally grew up in the woods. He has chased coon hounds until daylight, waited out whitetails perched high in an oak, canoed the New River and hunted from the Montana Mountains to the Green Hills of Africa. During service in the Army and later as a municipal police officer and Special Agent with the railroad police, Richard obtained numerous certifications in small arms instruction. He has trained military personnel, law enforcement officers and civilians in the application of firearms for defensive, competitive and recreational use. Richard won the West Virginia Governor’s Twenty Award for law enforcement, the West Virginia National Guard State Pistol Competition and earned his Distinguished Medal with pistol. Badge turned in, Richard is now a contributing editor for several magazines. He was the compiling author of the book, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter and conceptualized and contributed to Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle. Richard also contributed a chapter to the John Velke book, The True Story of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. Richard has patents on a riflescope reticle and a revolutionary bullet testing media. A hillbilly at heart, Richard lives on Shadowland - his shooting range in West Virginia - with the most understanding wife in the world, their three kids and a very protective ridgeback hound.
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