Thursday, December 22, 2011

So, we know you're a hunter, but what's the point?

     What's the point of going out and either sweating to death and being eaten alive by mosquitoes and deer flies or freezing your posterior off and suffering near frostbite when the wind chill is 10 degrees? Really, isn't there a better way to spend your fall and winter days? You really should get another pass time! How about going to the movies, attending a ballgame or shopping...All valid points and reasonable enough questions I suppose. Of course, you have to consider the point that I'm not all together reasonable when it comes to the outdoors and can tend to be a little lopsided when it comes to this topic!

     Sure, I could stay in the house, on the couch all wrapped up in a snuggie watching an I.U. game or the Colts on any given Sunday. But here's the thing...I don't get to be part of the show. What I mean is this. When I'm out in the field or in my stand, I'm not just a spectator, I'm one of the actors. Hopefully, if everything comes together, I get to participate. Even though hunting is oftentimes a practice of patience, it's not meant to be reactive. Yes, I sit up in my tree and wait...and wait...and wait some more for the deer to pass by. But it's the anticipation of their arrival that drives me. That's the hunt! It's the pre-season planning and all the scouting that's been done ahead of time. It's finding white oaks that are raining down acorns every time the wind blows, calling deer like a dinner bell. It's studying the wind direction and trying to determine where the deer will be and what time they will be there and trying to cross paths with him. It's entering the natural world and matching wits with one of the wariest animals on earth and 99% of the time, the deer wins! It's trying to beat the deer at his own game, in his living room!

     Sometime, the stars all align and your number gets called off the bench to be part of the game. That's when it gets exciting. You've done all your homework, you've planned for this moment. You were careful in your stand placement and you've taken all the precautions to beat his defenses. You melt into the side of the tree and are hidden like a chameleon. The wind is blowing in your favor and a gnarly old buck is sneaking down the trail just as you had hoped. Your pulse quickens and your heart races. You can feel the adrenalin being dumped into your bloodstream! Your mind calculates the distance; you look ahead to your shooting lane. You're already envisioning the deer in the back of your truck and all the congratulations and back slapping that go along with it. You tell yourself to pick a spot and calm down. Your breathing is quick and ragged. One more step, pick the spot, you grunt the cagey old deer to a stop and the arrow is on its way...In one gravity defying, fluid movement, the buck ducks low and bolts into the next county as the arrow sails harmlessly over his back and buries in the soft dirt. He waves his white flag to you as he races away. You can almost hear him laughing...You slump back into your stand in a heap. You replay the shot in your head. Everything was perfect. You're dejected, even angry for a moment. But then, a wry little smile crosses your lips and you realize that your season isn't over. The hunt is still on and you get to do it all over again regardless of the heat or the cold. You're still in the game! You get to be an actor in the greatest show in the outdoors! I think you can keep your couch and blanket...I'd rather freeze.