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Hopefully you all will like this.



The Hunter’s Season

The crimson red maple leaf slowly falls to the ground, wavering steadily with each gust of wind. What once was green and full of life only a few months before now falls to the Earth before my eyes. A slight wind bears down across my face, carrying with it a hint of things to come. There is a smell in the air that only a few recognize. That is the smell of leaves, earth and game. Most see it as a time of change from warm humid nights to cold and blustery days. A time to prepare for what old man winter has in store. For others this is the beginning of a new season. A season that is years, decades and centuries old. A season that causes a yearning inside that no matter how we try to explain it some just will never understand. This is the season I look forward to most of all the seasons and wait for all year long. This is the Hunter’s Season.

Rooted with tradition, family and friends the hunter’s season is much more then the taking of life. For many it used to be a matter of survival. For most now it is about reconnecting with nature and enjoying what God has given us far away from the housing developments and concrete jungles. Killing is still a big part of hunting and it always will be. But for me and so many others there is so much more. The taking of game is not the end all be all when it comes to hunting. If it was then most of us would have quit years ago. Yes it is an end to the life of the animal but that end will in turn give me and my family nourishment to continue our lives.

As the leaf finds its final resting place I continue my walk to wherever it is I might be going. At this moment in time I am not sure. Just like the wind took the leaf, I will use my senses and instincts to direct me across this mountain top from ridge to ridge not knowing where I will end up. But what I do know is that no matter what happens this day will be a success. To see the beauty, smell the smells and hear the sounds of nature are a gift unto one’s self. For the ones that embark in this season alongside me, maybe in body, maybe in spirit, they too long to be in their most beautiful of places.

As I continue to walk I begin to think about the hunter’s season. I think about people that have hunted with me, people that will hunt it with me, and people that I will never get the chance to hunt with ever again. I wonder why we fight amongst ourselves when there is so much opposition against us all ready. Where does such hostility come from when we should all be pulling for each other and not become divided? Does it really matter what, when or how we use a piece of equipment as long as we are doing it legally? But I have faith in my fellow hunters that once we all step from the concrete to the earth and back to the concrete again that we can all remember what has brought us here in the first place, the love of the outdoors and for the hunt.

I pause to watch a Chickadee on a branch. I admire his grey, black and white colorings as he scolds me for interrupting his foraging. He soon goes back to feeding and pays no mind to me at all. Grey squirrels are running rings around trees and then scatter as I continue my journey. I hear Blue Jays off in the distance. Am I approaching another hunter? Is it a deer or some other animal that calls these woods home? I may never know. A few more steps and a grouse busts through the underbrush. I nearly jump out of my skin but quickly settle down. This looks like a good spot to sit for a while.

I begin to think back on past kills and how they have made me feel. It is a strange feeling of accomplishment, excitement, sacrifice and sorrow. People who do not hunt do not understand how we can feel sorrow for an animal that we have just taken. They will never understand the range of emotions one goes through when taking the life of an animal. Does this mean we are cruel and heartless? While yes there are some like that they are few. And I am surely proud that I am not one of them. If people want to eat their meat from a plastic wrapper, or eat just lettuce for supper who am I stop them? That is fine. But why must they impose their thoughts and beliefs on someone else are beyond me. And as I sit here thinking to myself, aren’t vegetables a living organism as well? I guess for some that is a different set of circumstances. With no blood involved there is no killing right? Again who am I to judge another’s lifestyle?

As I continue my journey I arrive at a little clearing. I can see three different ridges from this mountain top. There is a field on one of these ridges that once checked with my binoculars, has a flock of turkeys in it. Below me there is a brook and I can hear the subtle sounds of it rushing over the rocks in the valley below. Mountain Laurel, Maple and Oak trees all intertwine amongst each other to paint a colorful scene of solitude. This looks like a perfect spot to finish this day’s hunt.

I have seen no sign of what has brought me here but I am still satisfied, satisfied that I am able and willing to partake in this season. I begin to wonder how many more hunter’s seasons there will be, not only for me but for my children, grandchildren and future generations. Will there ever be a time when we are not allowed to enjoy what we love? With more and more attacks against our hunting heritage one thing that can help keep us strong is the bond we have amongst each other. This bond is one of the strongest bonds between any groups of people ever. Emotionally and spiritually we are connected to each other through nature in ways people outside our ranks will never understand. And that is fine with me.

As the sun begins to set I sit back and breathe a sigh of contentment. After my journey and today’s thoughts I only want to enjoy this moment. Hopefully I will continue, for years to come, to be able to breathe this sigh. And to enjoy it with friends, family and others that I do not know. For it means one thing and one thing only.

The hunter’s season is here again.
 

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Great post Byrd
we share a lot of the same thoughts and values! there is so much more to being a hunter than the kill. the kill is just the icing as far as i'm concerned. the sights, sounds, smells and memories are the true measure of success!! thanks for the read and Good luck to you!!
 

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Great story Byrd, Thanks!!
I'm reminded of my first elk hunt in Montana. I was in my mid 20s at the time, and was out there with my Dad, an uncle, and my younger brother who was in law school in MT at the time. My brother had the camp all set up before we arrived and he spent the two weekends hunting with us, but had to be back in school during the week. The elk were few and far between on that trip, and no shots were offered. But their were plenty of firsts for me on that trip. First elk hunt, first time hunting in mountains of that grandeur, and for the first time realizing just how big those mountains are and how far away camp can get in a short time!(Long solo hike in the dark the second day, but different story)
One day on the second weekend, my brother and I were sitting on a rock ledge over a draw that seperated two drainages, and over looked two high mountain lakes. It was a great spot for glassing, as well it was in incredibly scenic view. As we were sitting there he started to lament how bad he felt that we came all the way from PA and spent a fair amount of money, but had not had a chance for an elk. I looked at him and said: Joe, this view, along with all the new experiences this week for me, has more than covered the costs.
I think I made a big impression on him that day, as we both still share those same views almost 20 years later.
On the drive home I thought about that day and realized that hunting has never been all about the kill for me, nor my Dad and any of my brothers. The kill is certainly part of the hunt, but not the only part. And as Byrd said so well, non-hunters will never understand the emotions we go through when we do take an animal. It is natural, and a part of nature. Quite simply, hunting, and all that goes with it, is a natural part of who I am.
 

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Ditto on that great story and this is something that those who have never set foot in the woods will never understand. Just a shame these are the same ones coming to power.
 
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