After my first deer successful deer season in 1967 I remember counting the days until the 1968 season. By my count it was 351 days from the end of one season to the beginning of the next, and since 1968 was a Leap Year, I’d have to wait an extra day.
In those days the season opener seemed like it was an eternity away. Today I live on the border of New York and Pennsylvania, which enables me to hunt both states. Much has changed, including more seasons and more opportunities to get into the woods.
The passage of the years also means more adult responsibilities. I no longer count the days because the seasons come along almost too quickly, and then rapidly speed by.
Despite the fact that adult men revert to boys now and then (a fact women know well), I’ve grown up a little since 1967. I’m thankful that the wait isn’t nearly so long. In fact, the seasons come so quickly that finding time to get ready for them is a challenge.
Something is in season nearly all the time. We have a 6-week archery season. We enjoy almost two months of turkey hunting, considering both fall and spring opportunities. We can pursue the elusive eastern coyote during winter months.
We can maintain familiarity with our favorite bow or rifle and practice our marksmanship on woodchucks all summer. Plus, we have small game opportunities, and out-of-state hunts easier to plan than ever before.
Getting ready for the season used to mean sharpening my knife, assembling my handloads, sighting in my rifle, making sure my hunting clothes were in good condition, and doing my preseason scouting. Now my preparation goes way beyond my hunting gear.
Now it means making sure the lawn stays mowed — more difficult as the days become short. It means making sure I change oil in my truck, car, lawn tractor and snowblower. It means planning for Christmas shopping with my wife. It means cutting firewood and putting the garage in some semblance of cleanliness and order, and finishing household projects before winter.
And then, the writing deadlines. Most people would be surprised to learn that being an outdoor writer can actually mean you hunt less than the average guy. Unfortunately, what I want to do often competes with what I must do. That’s what it means to live in the adult world. Who of us is ever really caught up with adult responsibilities?
Whether we count the days or not, it’s important that we make the days count. It’s too easy to allow our favorite pastime to govern our lives and tempt us to live purely for our personal enjoyment. There is more to life than hunting — and although our days are numbered, there’s more to living than counting the days until our next hunt.
Time is fleeting. It never speeds by more quickly than during hunting season, but don’t let that rob you of living responsibly, or rob you of gratitude. The responsible hunter keeps hunting in proper perspective, and keeps his life in balance. It’s not easy, but we’re better off for it.
The responsible hunter is also grateful for the privilege of inheriting a rich a hunting heritage. Remember to be thankful for that heritage and for all who have given it to us. And remember that it’s not merely a bequest from some long dead conservationists. As the conservationists who will leave the legacy to others, how we use our days matters.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.