For over 20 years I was a pretty solitary hunter. I’d occasionally venture out with a friend every now and then but primarily it was just me. As you enter your hunting seasons this Fall I hope you all come home with meat for the freezer but don’t forget about one of the other great benefits of hunting.
It may be that I’m getting old but a dove hunt this past weekend really reminded me of how lucky I am. While my main objective for hunting will always be to put food on the table, I am beginning to really appreciate the friends and family aspect. It wasn’t my usual pre-hunt ritual having catered BBQ and College Game Day on under a tent with 40 other people. But as I sat there and the day unfolded I began to see some things I’d overlooked so often before.
The anticipation of the hunt was there but the playful banter back and forth followed by loud bursts of laughter where what that day was really about. Sure I wanted to knock down some birds but talking with fellow hunters and seeing their faces lit up with excitement for the fall was truly special. Listening to old timers talk of dove hunts with participants ranging in the hundreds was astonishing to me. Running out at noon when the season opened to claim our spots and shoot at a handful of birds out at midday then realizing it was unbelievably hot and scurrying back to the tent later that afternoon for some shade and cold drinks. The roars and jeers following a single bird running the gauntlet of hunters unscathed. This was what today was about. Friendships and a rich history of our hunting heritage.
I looked back to some of my most memorable hunts. You know what they had in common? Friends and family. My dad, brother, and myself going to Wisconsin for a DIY deer hunt. I didn’t even pull the trigger but that forkhorn my dad shot is my favorite deer of all time. Ask me some other time and I’ll tell you all about it. Fish camp along the Muskegon River in Michigan. I’ll never forget those adventures. Elk hunting with a band of what I now call brothers. Truthfully, these experiences have help mold me into what I am today. Now that I’ve got kids I can only hope and pray one day they look back at a few outings I took them on and think how lucky they are.
So this season don’t get too wrapped up in antler size. Make sure you enjoy all aspects of the hunt and savor those moments with loved ones.