I remember knocking on the farmhouse door in far southern Illinois.
Even more vividly, I remember the dumbfounded expression on the older couple’s faces when I asked if I could unplug their phone so I could plug in my laptop and file to the Sun-Times.
They said yes. It helped to have two small boys and a pregnant wife along. That was 17 years ago.
Technology has come a long way in how it affects the outdoors. I thought of that on the final day of Illinois’ first firearm deer season.
I will post preliminary harvest numbers — when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources releases them — at chicago.suntimes.com/section/outdoors.
On Sunday, as I checked Twitter, email and Facebook on my phone to see what deer hunters were doing (I’m sure younger hunters were on Snapchat), a video clip of Tarik Cohen scoring for the Bears popped up on Twitter.
For the first time in 49 years of deer hunting, I watched a video in the field. I felt mildly guilty, and it signified something lost or altered in my experience of deer hunting.
Even from my youth, I valued deer hunting as 12-plus hours of head-clearing time, my Zen of Hunting. I follow my dad, who saw deer hunting as his time to grab a tree and cry out to God.
But change came. Most hunters text or post on social media from the field, so I had reports from around Illinois.
From Franklin County, Tim Weszelits posted: ‘‘Day one, our group saw lots of deer, a few nice ones. I stuck it out all day [Friday] and got a buck around 12:45. However, with all the deer seen, I was the lone shot [Friday].’’
He said his processor was unusually slow, only eight deer as opposed to the usual 20 or 30.
Gary Bloom messaged from opening day in Edwards County that seven of them took three does and an eight-pointer and ‘‘saw more than usual.’’
Bob Coine emailed: ‘‘Strangest first firearm season ever here in Whitetail Paradise (Ogle County).
‘‘Friday morning, typical burst of distant shots . . . then very quiet the balance of the weekend. The peak of the rut should have been in full swing. We saw chasing Friday morning only. After that, the deer acted as if it was early October. . . . It was the slowest, most quiet first season ever, even though the weather should have kept deer moving and feeding.’’
He did bag Mr. Brow Tines (above).
Dan Spalla, who hunts Livingston, emailed Sunday: ‘‘Two young bucks were looking for love until a little bigger buck came out that was definitely a shooter, with a doe in the middle of all three. The wind was blowing nasty and making my tree sway. Needless to say, my two shots went right over his back. There’s always second season.’’
The second firearm season is Nov. 30-Dec. 3.
Sandhill cranes are migrating, as many deer hunters observed. Thousands of sandhills piled into Indiana’s Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.
On Sunday, Andy Mikos of Morton Grove emailed: ‘‘While cleaning out the gutters and raking the leaves, the sandhill cranes are singing me a tune.’’
Alan Epich, a contributor to the Midwest Fishing Report, died unexpectedly. There’s a 10 a.m. Mass today at St. Catherine of Alexandria in Oak Lawn.
Joe Morgan showed again why he is a real Hall of Fame second baseman, as Ed Mullady showed he is a real Hall of Fame fishing advocate.
Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.