FOR QUITE A while now, I have participated with several of my friends in trivia puzzlers.

Mostly the quizzes concentrate on oldies music, everything from the ’50s through the ’70s, with an occasional foray into the ’80s. I guess that tells you what the average age is of our friends.

It shouldn’t be surprising then, that today, I am thinking of the opening lyrics of a great oldie “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds. They go like this “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose, under heaven.”

My purpose this week and into the weekend, especially Saturday morning, is to get ready and be on my deer stand well before daybreak Saturday morning; the opening day of deer season.

I have spent much time this fall exploring old haunts, pieces of woods and deer stands where I would like to begin this season. I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu all over again.

For the past decade, I have been hunting a piece of private property which I look after for a friend of mine.

I have been a very fortunate hunter on that property, killing a buck almost every year. During the past seven years, I have killed a buck every season no later than 8:30 opening morning, which is great, except that it makes for a very short season.

This year, as I prepare for my 60th deer season, I find myself very ambivalent about shooting a buck. Don’t worry, if I get the chance I will, but as is the case with my turkey, grouse and duck hunting, bringing home a full bag limit has slid far down my list of hunting priorities.

I love the hunt. I love being in the woods for grouse and deer, in a duck blind surrounded by tall cattails at the edge of a North Dakota prairie slough or along a field edge of a farm waiting to ambush a boss gobbler. I treasure more than anything just the opportunity to be there.

In the spring, it’s time to listen to gobblers gobbling if I’m hunting in Illinois farmland, a time to listen to grouse drumming in our own North Woods and a time to soak in the atmosphere anywhere in the outdoors as it’s beginning a new life after a long winter of dormancy.

When it comes time for fall hunts, it’s more of the same. Then, it’s sitting under a canopy of colored leaves waiting for a turkey to pay a visit, a time to watch clouds drift across a North Woods lake as I hope and wait for a flock of ducks to decoy in close, and a time simply to drink in the smells and sounds of the woods before a coat of white covers things up again.

With deer season set to open Saturday, I have put in much time deciding where to hunt opening morning. A tough decision to make after deciding to abandon my nearly sure thing stand on private land to once again see the woods of my younger days.

Just where to do that has been the big problem. For the past several weeks, I have looked at slices of woods where I haven’t hunted in decades. I have tramped through the Big Valley country, in the hardwoods and balsam-covered ridges in the Star Creek area, all along Plum Creek, up around Spruce Lake, in by Allequash Springs, along with several other places that are among those most near and dear to my heart.

My dogs and I have done a lot of tramping, looking and debating about the exact place where I should hunt.

With just a few days remaining until opening day, I am resting in ease, pleased with myself in finally choosing a stand just a few hundred yards from the house in which I grew up, a stand which provided me with a Thanksgiving day eight-point buck when I last hunted it.

Like all pieces of the forest, it looks much different now than it looked the last time I hunted it. Logging has allowed thick new underbrush to clog up some of what used to be an open field of fire for me.

The land has changed from the private hands in which it was held for nearly a century, to state ownership as part of the Northern Highland–American Legion State Forest. No longer will it necessarily be my private domain, but I am confident with the limited open shooting lanes surrounding my chosen stand that no one will be sitting anywhere close to me.

I have other options, but that said, hunting a stand for which I have so many great memories means a great deal to me; more even than the filling of my deer tag.

When I sit there this opening morning, I will remember not just the bucks I have killed there in the past, but also the stand just up the ridge from me where my niece used to feed an ermine rummaging around her stand many years ago and the buck that my then-neophyte hunting partner killed when I posted him on this stand an opening day years ago.

I’ll also remember the family that owned the land for so long and who cut out a 2-acre piece of it in 1950 to sell to my dad and mother. I grew up in the house they built there and today, live just a half-mile from it.

So, I guess you could say that this year I am doing a turn, turn, turn.

I can’t wait for the hunt to start.