THE OPENING DAY of deer season is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Sounds like something Forrest Gump would say.

Thing is, it’s true. Every deer season opening day is different from every other one a hunter has experienced, even if that hunter will be experiencing his 59th opening day as I will in just a few days from now.

I have to admit that I don’t recall every one of my opening days in great detail, but many of them, whether ending with a buck hanging from the buck pole or thoughts of having to eat lots of chicken for the foreseeable future, have been forever enduring in my mind.

I can honestly say that I do remember in vivid detail almost every single thing that happened during my first opening day. First of all, it was cold, mighty cold. A pair of four-buckle overshoes within which two pairs of wool socks covered my feet was scarcely enough to keep my toes from freezing.

After a brief midmorning tramp down the hill from where I sat to Uncle Neal’s cabin on Plum Creek where the wood stove was putting out welcome heat, I got back to my stand just minutes before I had a chance to down my first buck.

Chased toward me from farther down the ridge by another hunter, it tore past me going 60 per at about 40 yards away. Hoisting a .303 Savage lever action to my shoulder, I still remember swinging on the buck like I would swing on a partridge with my 20 gauge. Aiming never crossed my mind. My first shot missed and a second didn’t come close either.

I was heartbroken at the time and for many, many nights, even years, I replayed that moment in my mind trying to figure out how I might have managed a better result.

Memory making moments aren’t the only things that make opening days different. I have hunted opening days when the sun shone brightly and the thermometer easily read north of 50. I have hunted bare ground conditions and with nearly 20 inches of new snow on the ground.

I have watched as many as 20 deer parade past my stand on opening day and I have gone opening day a time or two without seeing a hair of a deer.

I’ve experienced the joy of getting my buck opening morning. The earliest opening day that I ever killed a buck was at 6:58 a.m. Last year, I spotted my opening day five-pointer working its way along a ravine 150 yards from me just five minutes after legal shooting time started. I watched him 20 minutes before he gave me a good shot.

The latest I killed a buck opening day was about 25 years ago, when a buck finally wandered past me, the first deer I’d seen all day, 10 minutes before shooting hours ended.

One memorable opening day, I decided to hunt the end of Hook’s Point on Plum Lake. The water was still ice free that day and I decided rowing a boat a mile across the lake would be easier than walking 2 miles to get to the stand I had picked out.

Not long after shooting hours started, the rain did also. Light at first, a downpour hit shortly thereafter. I held out until about 11 in the morning, at which time I manned the oars back across the lake. Along the way, a flock of mallards buzzed over in easy shotgun range. Even though I yelled “bang, bang, bang” at them with great authority, none of them fell down.

Maybe the most memorable opening day for me was the one that never was. In 1971, for the first and only time so far, I missed out on hunting opening day.

After holding out for three weeks past her due date, my firstborn decided to belatedly begin the birth process. From 5:30 the evening before through a long hunt-less Saturday and until 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the little brat procrastinated and protested her entrance into the world.

The only thing that saved her and kept alive her tenuous hold on the family fortune, some of which I will someday itemize in my will for her, I managed three hours of sleep before hitting the woods to hunt what was my opening day on my father-in-law’s farm south of Eau Claire. Luckily, I killed a big doe an hour after shooting hours started Sunday.

I might add that this same daughter for years did her best to ruin her daddy’s sleep the night before opening day with birthday celebration sleepovers with up to a half-dozen other squealing grade school girls. Once in a while, I even got a buck those opening mornings.

I have seen many interesting things on opening days throughout the years. I have been visited more than once by an albino doe. Twice, I have had ruffed grouse fly down from their roost and light mere feet from me. One walked within a foot of my boots after landing.

I have hunted opening days with good friends. I hunted with my son when he killed his first doe and his first buck. I’ve helped hang quite a few opening day bucks that my dad killed, thankful for the joy of being his helper.

The memories go on and on. Every opening day is still different than all others. In a few days, there will be another one.

It will be interesting to see what kind of chocolate I get.