PAT NEAL: Most wonderful time of the year

OPENING DAY OF deer season must be my favorite day of the year.

When — if only for a brief moment — there is hope that this opening day will not be the same failure that it was last year.

I was sitting on a stump in the pre-dawn gloom minding my own business, watching the fall leaves turn to a riot of color as fingers of sunlight crept across the mountains.

At some point the birds awakened.

I don’t like birds much. They’re messy and make a lot of noise. I heard a whooshing sound.

A massive flock of pine siskins streaked across the sky and landed in the cedar tree I was sitting under. There must have been at least a hundred of them.

Siskins are relatives of our state bird, the goldfinch. They live on the seeds of alder and cedar, twittering about in great flocks that flow through the air like feathered amoebas.

A pair of sparrow hawks dove through the flock.

Sitting beneath a frightened flock of siskins is a disgusting nature experience.

They tend to evacuate on take-off. It was like being showered by a blizzard of bird droppings.

Just lucky I wasn’t eating my lunch.

After the manure spray, I gave up hunting on opening day.

With the hot, dry weather we’ve been having, if you don’t get a deer in the first hour of daylight, you probably aren’t going to get one.

Which leaves the rest of opening day for wishing you were somewhere else.

This would be my best tip for deer hunting on the Olympic Peninsula: Don’t.

Here in Washington, we try to manage our fish and wildlife in a manner that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

So, we protect the bears and cougars, sell as many hunting licenses as we possibly can and hire biologists to study the reasons why our deer harvest has taken a nosedive.

There could be many reasons for this.

Throughout the years, deer have evolved into sensitive, highly intelligent animals that don’t want to get shot, so they move to town to get away from the overpopulation of predators and hunters.

Even the deer out in the woods seem to be smarter.

It’s almost like the deer learned to read the hunting regulations, but that’s impossible.

Even the vast majority of humans have trouble understanding the hunting laws.

There could be many reasons for this.

Ironically, as deer everywhere seem to be evolving into more intelligent creatures, a recent CNN news story revealed that human IQ scores have been steadily falling for the past few decades.

An analysis of some 730,000 IQ test results from the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research in Norway indicates human IQ hit its peak in the mid-1970s and has been dropping an average of 7 IQ points in each generation ever since.

Which would explain a whole lot of issues in the modern world today.

The broader implications of this landmark study are disturbing.

As the humans get steadily more stupid, the deer have gotten just too darned intelligent for people to hunt.

Even without reading the hunting regulations the deer know when hunting season is about to start just by monitoring traffic patterns.

Suddenly there is an influx of four-wheel-drive vehicles speeding down our roads and slamming on their brakes where you least expect it.

Then there is the odd practice of going out in the woods where the deer live to shoot guns for target practice.

This gives the deer plenty of warning to skedaddle before the lead starts flying on opening day.

Oh well, maybe next year.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal

More in Opinion

PAT NEAL: Baiting the tourists

FROM THE ACIDIFIED ocean to the melting glaciers, the Olympic Peninsula has… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The bears are awake

“WHERE CAN I see a bear?” the frantic tourist asked. This is… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: A bad bunch of bugs

IT IS DAYLIGHT in the swamp. The faint cooing of the band… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: Sasquatch Days are here

IT’S TIME ONCE again for the third annual Sasquatch Days in Forks… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The story of ‘Lightning Boldt’

“LIGHTNING BOLDT,” IS a biography of Judge George H. Boldt by John… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The best Mother’s Day present

MOTHER’S DAY IS coming up. I had a great mother. I know… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The best Arbor Day ever

HOW WAS YOUR Arbor Day? Traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in… Continue reading

OUR VIEW: New York Times syndication service to add in-depth reporting

While we take great pride in being your source for local news… Continue reading

Pat Neal, left, and former Peninsula Daily News editor and publisher John Brewer. (Pat Neal)
PAT NEAL: Free speech isn’t free

There were giants in the land. We lost one last week. John… Continue reading

The Peninsula Daily News office building, at 305 W. First St. in Port Angeles, will soon be on the commercial real estate market. But staff will relocate to another Port Angeles building in the coming months.
OUR VIEW: We’re moving, but we will remain in community

THIS OLD BUILDING, steeped in history, whispers stories of bygone days. Within… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The first salmon

THE BLOOMING OF the salmonberries marks a change in the season. In… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: Spill some salmon here

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news. The bad news was… Continue reading