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Discussion Starter #1
I know I said weekly on these, but I pounded this one out last night and am pretty happy with it and figured with the big opener weekends coming up it may be best to get it out there for folks to ponder...hope you guys like it.

Rooster's Wanderings- Volume 2
"The best of times, the worst of times"


Spending my entire life in Pennsylvania, I have come to treat an opening day as a holiday like hundreds of thousands of fellow outdoorsmen in this State. When I think of opening days, I always think of that literary quote “It was the best of times,it was the worst of times", Why? Well as the northern trout and spring gobbler openers approach, let me further explain.

The best of times

What makes the opening days so darn important to so many? I mean they just kick off a season full of days where you can do the exactly the same thing that everyone is now gathering at camps, lodges, hotels and campgrounds to do just on that one day. Ahh, and there it is. Opening days cause traditional gatherings like no other day on the calendar other than maybe Thanksgiving and Christmas at Grandmas. These opening day traditions truly are the BEST OF TIMES, the time around the campfire, the telling of tales, the show and tell with your new outdoor gear, the shared anticipation of that first trout hit, first fly down or first rifle shot ringing out to announce the day’s long awaited arrival. A feeling that will send any longtime PA outdoorsmen into a state of knowing he is where he belongs here. To me nothing is better than the high of being with those that have waited all year for the day just like you. Its evidence can be seen on any northbound highway in this State on the Friday or weekend before that opener, as you sit in a long line of campers and loaded down SUVs, watching for passing zones and constantly doing the math on what time you will pull in to your paradise to start the celebrations….”come on, come on is that all the faster that thing can go??”

A tradition many never want to see end of which I am one, and many keep the hope that those little tikes in the backseat there to experience their first one will one day be celebrating these same holidays with their children in places where so many memories have unfolded.

At your destination it is non-stop preparation and celebration all taking place at the same time, you do not get tired of any of it and could hardly sleep evenm if you did. But then as the night finally falls quiet, you take in the silence and get that one little bit of “alone in the wilderness” ideology that brought you to these Outdoor sports to begin with. This all sounds pretty good, so what possibly could be the worst of times?

The Worst of times

The still and quiet that you feel asleep to are still roaming when you frist wake, but as soon as your eyes open there is a tightening of your stomach as you now must put all your preparation plans into action without error or hesitation to get to that fishing hole , roosting area, or escape route FIRST. The rat race you have hoped to leave behind for the weekend has found you and it is once again time to stay one step ahead of the other guy, compete with the Jones’s, and make sacrifices in your regular persona to ensure success for all those counting on you for it. The silence is soon broken many times over as the rat races find all their targets within all who gathered and at no time during the day will you be more stressed than you are right now, a pressure that is so out of place in those surroundings but one that thrives like no other.

Folks react to these pressures differently, some will say the “heck with it” and just keep the slow pace they came to enjoy, so will pull off their plans perfectly and be back around the campfire early with the limit caught or mission accomplished, some will show the signs of no preparation or planning at all and it will be evident that they are there only to consume what they can and not to celebrate the excitement and glory of it all. You know the ones, the guy wading right thru your spot because of his frustration of not having one yet, the guys sneaking in on the gobbler you knew was there for weeks that they just heard for the first time when you got him to answer your first call, the guy sitting down 50 yards from you at the deer stand you have had success at for the last 10 years…all that preparation you did for this moment is now ruined by this jerk…your temper is boiling inside and you wonder how anyone can be so inconsiderate.

All of this added to the litter, crowds, and unsportsmanlike conduct takes you to the brink of never doing this again…then...there is that tap on your line, a gobble right over the rise, the gleam of rack coming along the rim…and you know you will never not be here as long as you live.

Sure is a crazy thing these opening days, folks you celebrate with the night before become your biggest rivals come dawn. Sort of the like the Yanks and Rebels all hanging around the same campfires in Gettysburg the night before the battle, telling tales and sharing ales, seems strange…I mean in this scenario aren’t we all just soldiers on the same side , but unlike those we all have the same goals and sense of victory., shouldn’t it work out better than it does? How do we change it? Can we change it?

As an eternal optimist I will always believe we can but it really has to happen one person at a time and if that person fails to teach their next generation the patience then the cycle will ultimately be a non-ending one and there will always be some of ‘the worst of times”.

Before I fall off the soapbox, I want everyone to know that I use to boil at these worst of times, but I do no longer or at least do a lot more to try to tame it, Why? Eyes are on me now...my children watch me close in the outdoor world, they pick up my slightest of signals, and they are chipping them into stone even if I try to erase it. It is a non-stop conscious effort to make sure they see the sportsmen you want them to be and maybe not the one you might actually be. It is the little things that will get you there...strike up a conversation with the guy squeezing in between you and the next guy at 5 minutes before start time, “how ya doing, where you from? Well good luck to you", offer to net his fish. Don’t curse that hunter out loud that just ruined your spot, do it internally if you must and bring it out with a joke, a smile and a head shake…”I told you this was a good spot kiddo everyone wants to be here..(laugh)”, or give a handshake the lucky buck hunter who got "your buck" and offer to take his picture and even tug on the dragrope for a spell. That action you can only hope that will plant a seed that will grow not only in your kid, but in the other guy as well, and with any luck, that seed is invasive and will spread wildly like one.

Some soils will grow no seeds…so we will never be totally free of the “best of times, worst of times” opening days and for some eventually the benefit will not be worth doing so much to fight the good fight, and they will stop trying, therefore adding to the worst of times. I hope many reading this will at least consider it for a spell, a dream world for some I am sure, but is that not what opening days are all about…living out what you dream of all year.

Make 2009 the year you test your soil…
Be well and ENJOY!
 

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RB you have a gift to bring what alot of us see but cannot find a way to bring to print.Thank you for a great post.
 

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Nice read RB!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys...comments appreciated.

Hard to believe the whrilwinf of the spring seasons kick off next week up here. Me and my boys just spend the day at the land doing, well absolutely nothing. We did find some turkey scratchings, and had a campfire, etc..but next week it all starts the Saturdays are going to be starting pretty early in the AM for the next month or so, and there will always be somethign to do.

We are heading down to my folks for the trout opener (they have a stocked stream in their backyard) and John said he wants to hunt youth turkey first, then fish in the afternoon..so I guess someone just got themselves one good fishing spot come 8AM next Saturday near our usual rock.
 
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