Giving Thanks this Thanksgiving: Family, Freedom, the Second Amendment and Hunting

posted on November 25, 2021

Traditionally, the Wisconsin gun deer season launches the weekend before Thanksgiving and runs through the Sunday following the national holiday. This year’s opening weekend found me on family property in north-central Wisconsin with my back to a huge oak tree and a lever-action rifle sitting across my lap. My blaze-orange coat was zipped up tight in the below-freezing temperature, but I know I had a satisfied smile on face.

Thanksgiving and Wisconsin deer hunting are state traditions—a time to celebrate family and friends, and to give thanks for all that we have in this country. This tradition is founded on the ideals of self-determination and freedom. Perhaps most crucial among the freedoms we enjoy is the Second Amendment, which, in a sense, is well celebrated during this week by Wisconsinites and by millions more around this great nation.

For many Wisconsin families, Thanksgiving itself starts with deer hunters getting out the door in the chilly pre-dawn and making their way to their hunting areas. They then, somehow, get back home early enough to enjoy the bird and all the trimmings with the family. After the meal, these hunters may take a quick nap on the couch while the football game plays on the television, and then its’s up and back out for the later afternoon hunt.

Wisconsin is home to nearly 700,000 deer hunters, and those participating in the gun deer season are often called the “orange army.” While it is legal to use a bow during this season, most volunteers in the orange army head afield with the firearm of their choice. It may be grandpa’s lever-action or a new semi-automatic; whatever the choice, the experience is the same.

Those who are opposed to our Second Amendment rights have a different idea about the decisions we make as gun owners in a free nation. All too often these same anti-gun types have tried to divide gun owners at this time of the year by saying someone doesn’t “need” this or that type of firearm to hunt deer with. 

As Editor in Chief Frank Miniter recently wrote: “Anti-Second Amendment groups and politicians—such as President Joe Biden (D) and former senator and presidential candidate John Kerry (D)…have tried to divide and conquer gun owners by ‘going hunting’ or mentioning hunters and then claiming ‘true’ sportsmen and women don’t need this or that type of gun.”

We’re not going to take away your hunting guns, these anti-gunners claim, just the bad ones that no “real” hunter would use. You know, those scary black rifles, or some other guns they wish to villify.

This tactic implies that the Second Amendment is essentially a hunting right. And since these anti-gun individuals and organizations aren’t targeting our hunting guns, well, they think we should be okay with their desired restrictions and bans.

The Second Amendment was written to stop government from infringing on our inherent right to “keep and bear arms,” as self-defense and self-determination are critical elements of actual freedom.

That said, would we have the hunting culture we do today in the United States and Wisconsin without the Second Amendment? I don’t see how.

This deer season, I am using a Henry Arms Big Boy All-Weather Sidegate chambered in .357 Magnum. I like lever-actions, and wanted to try this particular rifle with new .357 mag. hunting ammunition.

Actually, though, my favorite hunting rifle is one of those “scary” black rifles the anti-gunners despise. It’s an AR-10, specifically a DPMS GII Hunter chambered in .260 Rem., and I’ve used it to great success on many deer and hog hunts. 

Anti-Second Amendment types will tell you no one uses an AR-style rifle for hunting—these people are either misinformed or are intentionally spreading a falsehood. All sorts of American hunters like myself use AR-style rifles for hunting game, large and small, and it’s their choice to do so.

A vibrant Second Amendment provides somewhere between 14 and 20 million Americans with the right to go afield toting the firearms of their choice (state and local hunting regulations dependent, of course). The hunting we do is an important cultural force in this nation; this is so even though most of us don’t need to hunt to feed ourselves and our families.

Hunting connects us to the self-sufficiency of the past. Hunting further connects us to the land and to nature, and every Thanksgiving week, tens-of-thousands of Wisconsin hunters and their families share the hunt as an annual tradition.

And for all that, Wisconsin deer hunters like myself very much give thanks.


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