5 Family Hunting Stories and Traditions

5 Family Hunting Stories and Traditions

Hunting is a long-standing tradition embedded in American culture. In some families, it is a way of life passed down from great-grandfather to grandfather to father to son. Due to hunting being a large part of family life for centuries, there is a wealth of different traditions and legends passed down from generation to generation. These stories are dependent on regions, cultures, and individual families. Here are some of our favorites.

Family Hunting Traditions

One of the big family hunting traditions on the East Coast and South of America is “holding of court.” This tradition has existed since colonial times but, unfortunately, is dying out in modern times. The “holding of court” happens in areas where deer hunting with hounds is still ongoing. It is held at the end of the hunting day in a location like the skinning shed, with one member acting as the court judge.

During this session, any hunter who had missed the opportunity to bag themselves a deer could ask for mercy from the court. While this may sound incredibly serious, it is not. It allows other successful hunters to heckle and start a series of banter that is funny and bonds the group together. Ultimately, anyone who was found guilty had to pay a fine. Examples of this fine include shirt slashing and hat brim removal. The standard procedure is one inch for every missed shot. This tradition shows that these hunting clubs were more than friends; they were family.

Another common tradition among deer hunting packs is that they will not shave while hunting. Some camps take this tradition even further and do not shave for the entire hunting season. They remove this method of self-care as it’s believed you will have a luckier hunting season. At the end of the day, if it works for Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson, why wouldn’t it work for you?

While some family traditions are good and involve fun and bonding between the hunting party members, some traditions are quirky, to say the least. In Alabama, one hunting tradition that was brought about before the invention of phones or even walkie-talkies is that during deer hunting, when a hunter kills a buck, to let all the other hunters know of their achievement, they remove the buck genitalia and hang it from the nearest tree. So, if any other hunter in their pack walks past this area, they will know that the deer taken from there is a buck. Most hunters will return to camp to see their hunting partner’s fantastic achievement.

Family Hunting Legends

One of the most famous pieces of American folklore is the snipe-hunting myth. This practical joke is played on newcomers by giving them either an invisible or imaginary task. These hunters are told about a bird or animal called the snipe as well as a ridiculous (or funny) way of catching it, such as making loud, crazy sounds. As the creature never exists, the newbie just ends up making a fool of themselves.

BUT some older hunters will tell you that the snipe does exist. They even say there is photographic evidence. And they are correct; Wilson’s Snipe birds are short and stocky and can be found all year round in North-West America in areas low to the ground that can keep them camouflaged. They eat earthworms and inserts, as muddy areas are a favorite place to find them.

Another famous story is the story of the Hunter’s Moon. This story began in the 1800s in the foothills of the Appalachia mountains. The Cherokees taught European settlers how to hunt successfully within their forests. After some time, the Europeans decided to use dogs instead of still hunting, as shown by the Cherokee people. The Indians, before they hunted, asked their gods for the blessing of the kill, but the Europeans did not continue this practice, which proved to be a mistake.

As the Europeans did not respect the Cherokee way and respect that they gave their lands, since then, many hunters have found themselves lost in the woods at night, never to be seen.

From this came the story of the hunter’s moon. During this time every month, experts heavily advise hunters to stay away from hunting bears. The hunting dog will pick up the bear’s scent and cannot resist tracking it, leading them further and further into the dense woods, and before you realize it will be too late, you will be lost.

Many locals will argue over the bear’s color and if it is a bear at all. Some people think that it is not even a bear that lured unsuspecting hunters to their doom but the ghost of a man who was murdered while hunting and preys on people during the Hunter’s Moon as revenge.

These are only the tip of the iceberg regarding family traditions and folklore of American hunting. Hunting is a way of life for many families throughout the country. It provides families with hobbies and a way to catch food, but most importantly, it gives them a sense of heritage. Now and again, a family will have such a good story that it is retold through many generations, leading to the excellent folklore and traditions we have today.


Written by: Ryan Clancy, Engineering HQ

5 Family Hunting Stories and Traditions