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The Deer Hunter

an exploration of outdoor opportunities the Harvard Outing Club doesn't provide

By Eloise D. Austin

Here at Harvard, where black-tie doesn't mean camo cumberbunds and worn-down Redwing boots, hunters are a rare breed. (Although picking off squirrels with super-soakers may have a visceral appeal to students seeking an outlet for pent-up midterm anxiety.) In the city of Boston, there's a general shortage of gun-racks, camouflage jumpsuits, Winchester rifles, and taxidermists, none of which would harmoniously coincide with a cityscape of red-brick buildings and sculptured topiaries.

However, for the uprooted hunters who are suffering twinges of withdrawal from deer-blinds and venison sausage, relief can be found a short drive away in surrounding areas and states. For example, one can hunt Harvard-style with Hungarian Partridge shoots and Old English towers at the Western Massachusetts Bird-Dog Club Hunting Preserve or pursue a "father-son traditional hunting adventure" with the Mt. Kineo Charter and Guide Service in Maine. If fishing sounds less barbaric than gunning down Bambi's mother, the Cape Cod National Seashore might be a prime choice for hooking bluefish, striped bass, mackerel, or albacore. And one can head off with bait and tackle to Thoreau's old haunt, Walden Pond, to ponder the incompatability of civil disobedience and Ad Board restrictions on in-room Glocks.

Keep in mind that hunting and fishing in Massachusetts do not involve free-for-all, year-round massacres. To avoid accidentally eliminating the last member of an endangered albino coyote population or unknowingly hunting within a two-mile radius of a popular picnic area, it is helpful to consult the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for season, permit, and species information. For those who seek the exhilaration of stalking beasts of horn and claw, the Big Game firearm license is $27.50 (unfortunately, out-of-state hunters have to shell out almost 100 smackeroos). Alongside the usual fare of black bear, white-tailed deer and quail, a multitude of neighborhood critters can be turned into shish-kabobs. However, the crow, opossum, bullfrog and snapping turtle might provide scant amusement for marksmen of considerable moose hunting prowess. Aspiring trophy hunters and greenhorns of Harvard Yard, take note: Grey squirrel season opened October 17, with a bag limit of five. In addition, legal hunting hours commence 30 minutes before sunrise, so it is even possible to plug a chattering rodent prior to 9 a.m. Chem class.

Other prohibitions to keep in mind are: 1) no machine guns are allowed, at least not until Ted Nugent becomes Game Warden, and 2) no personal helicopters or other vehicles can be used to pursue game, as counter-intuitive and oppressive as this law may sound. Licenses and permits are valid from January 1st to December 31st, and are issued by most city clerks, Division offices and outlets, although one doesn't often witness Christy's doling out trout stamps with lottery tickets. And, due to age limits, the pint-sized Harvard Square drummer won't have a chance to spray bullets at local wildlife as permits are only distributed to those of 15 years and over.

Because the legend of the Jackelope only prevails outside the counties of Middlesex and Suffolk, one can assume that the range of first-year Harvard initiations won't include drinking the blood of a freshly killed bobcat or skinning and dressing an unlucky raccoon. Since most cronies of Harvard students will have never stood eye to eye with a grizzly bear, the bold graduate can add distinction to a Chase Manhattan application with bird calling and scat identification skills. Why wait until schmoozing with a client on a Maine hunting lease to accrue tracking abilities when a multitude of outfitters abound in the New England states? While more dainty Harvardians might disdain a mass of blood-encrusted feathers on their Prada bird bag, there's nothing quite like the primal gratification of winning a hard-fought battle with a wily fox. And this fundamental desire explains why, in an age of manufactured food and General Wong's Chicken, people still return to the backcountry's ancient forests and pristine streams.

Hunting Humor

Things You'd Never Hear a Hunter Say:

--"How about a poetry reading tonight?"

--"Hey, Can I bum a bullet?"

--"Hank, those jeans make your butt look big, and your belt doesn't match your boots."

--"Pass the tofu."

Hunting Season Reminders:

--Don't leave your Joy squeeze bottle of fox urine cover-scent anywhere near the kitchen.

--Refer to taxidermy bills as "a necessary medical expense" or "contributions to wildlife preservation."

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