The Night Before the Opening Hunt
The day before a hunt is one of the great joys left in the world. Sometimes the anticipation can be more important to the experience than the hunt itself. As I pack my bag and prep my rifle for this year's season, I'm reminded of all my childhood years spent in suspense. I grew up hearing stories of deer camp and of limits of quail and duck. Every year I looked forward to watching my dad heave a big-bodied buck onto a blue tarp in the garage.
When I was finally big enough to carry my own gun, I got to tag along on most hunts. During my first day afield that primordial itch we all have went from a nagging need to a full-blown passion for the outdoors. Cleaning and re-cleaning my chosen firearm for the coming hunt and sharpening and re-sharpening my favorite buck knife eased the lull between seasons. I was constantly nagging my dad about going out soon, something that he saw as a blessing and a curse (I was his only child who had the itch). Between work and overtime he would find time to grab his rifle and hit the trail with me in tow.
Even back then I still had the eager "we're going to Disneyland" feel as I do today. I've found better ways to spend the off season than grinding down my knives to nothing and dissolving the bluing off my old Ruger but every year before the first hunt I still find my self counting out every round of .25-06 and trying to strop out that stubborn keen edge on my knife until the middle of the night. Either way the whole year is in anticipation of this one night. A whole year of hard work and planning, time spent studying topo maps, scouting, exercising and developing a better load comes down to this day.
Its been said a thousand times but opening morning for hunters is just like Christmas Morning. If you don't believe it, videotape yourself and compare it to the your childhood Christmas home video and I guarantee you'll have the same goofy smile on your face as you did back then. This subject has been beaten to death by thousands of writers but what can I say, I'm excited. To me the anticipation is half the fun. Now if you'll excuse me I've got to go make sure I put out my lucky socks.
Article and photo courtesy of Harvesting Nature. Click here to subscribe to the quarterly Harvesting Nature magazine, And Click here to enjoy the latest episode of the wild fish and game podcast.