EVERY OPENING DAY of deer season is different. And yet, every opening day of deer season is the same.

In my 59 years of deer season openers, I have hunted on days when there was a foot or more of snow on the ground. I also have hunted when not a white flake was to be found. I’ve shivered through opening mornings when the temperature nosedived well below zero and I’ve hunted in a light fleece jacket on opening days when the temperature was in the 50s.

There have been opening days when the wind roared and as it was on this year’s opener, when it was dead calm. I’ve sat through opening days without seeing so much as a deer hair and I’ve had other opening days when deer seemed to parade past my stand in a never-ending wave.

With all that said, every opening day has a great degree of sameness to it. Whatever goes good with an opening day, we see some of it in the same way each and every year.

Forever on opening morning, I grudgingly get out from under warm covers at 5 a.m. and go through the same ritual of pulling on long underwear, wool socks, an insulated shirt, a warm pair of boots, and a blaze orange coat, gloves and hat.

Granted, the type and quality of the clothing and boots I wear now are a far cry from that which I wore 59 years ago, but the purpose is the same: keeping my hide from freezing.

As I sit in my stand each opening morning, the feeling is still the same. I am prepared to sit a patient watch, though I am not a patient person. I tell myself each year I need to sit still as a church mouse, though I have never been able to listen to that message with much resolve.

The seat upon which I have sat each opening morning has evolved as well, although in the past, logs propped against a tree served the same purpose as the swivel chair I now sit on.

Also unchanged has been the miracle of dawn and a new day in the forest. The same chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and other songbirds that kept me company my first opening day keep up their same chatter each year. Squirrels skittering across frosty leaves and whirling around tree trunks just for the fun of it remain a staple of every opening day.

Finally, the hope that springs eternal lives on just the same every year on opening day. Whether the game department says there are more or fewer deer in the woods than other years, whether the weather is perfect for a hunt or terrible for any living thing in the outdoors, the same hunters head for their stands each opening day, determined to make the best of it.

I have been a lucky hunter for several years. Going into this opener, I’ve had quite a streak with a buck on the ground anywhere from the first 15 minutes of the opening hour to a maximum of two hours after the start of shooting time.

Would this year tell a different story or would the same beat go on? Oddsmakers would probably opt for the former. My heart and head were hoping for the latter.

As a beautiful November day was birthed, a golden rising sun bringing it into full glory, I sat quietly in my blind watching, listening and waiting. Though it wasn’t what I would call frigid, a warm quilt wrapped around from my shoulders to my knees had me comfortable.

The woods were quiet. For a long time, not even a single bird kept me company. Finally, a nuthatch creeping up and down an oak tree came to visit. The usual barrage of gunshots from near and far was next to nonexistent this opening morning. It sounded like everyone else was seeing the same amount of deer I was: zilch.

Then, at just after 8 a.m., I caught movement from slightly behind and to my left. From through a small stand of 15-foot balsams a deer materialized then, a second. It didn’t take long to see that it was a pair of does. Gradually, they worked my way, one of them coming within 15 yards of my blind. Neither paid me or the blind any notice.

They moved off. Hoping maybe Mr. Bucky might be following, I scanned the balsam stand with great intensity. I was about to give up on a trailing buck when I caught a movement behind green branches. It was another deer. It took a minute before it peered out at the open hardwoods. For five minutes I watched, temporarily losing sight of it behind a hump 50 yards away before finally getting a good look when it topped it and stood broadside. It was a buck.

No trophy, this spike with one slender 6-inch antler and another of 5 inches. Some, maybe many hunters, would have passed it by. I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, when meat was more important than “horns.” I still live by that credo, though getting a buck for meat isn’t really a necessity these days. Nonetheless, I would rather eat backstraps of a spike than the “horns” of a trophy. When my .30/06 went off, the spike went down. My season was over early again.

What was in my younger days a rarity, killing a first morning buck has now become part of the sameness of my opening days. Maybe next year will be different. Who knows?

All I do know is that I plan to be on my stand when the next opening day arrives. As long as I can stand and walk on my own two hind legs, that will always be the same.