A Tradition Broken, But Not Forgotten
In my short 24 years on this planet, there have been few things that have remained constant. Wars changed names, dogs have come and gone and the once bustling house I grew up in has become an empty nest of sorts. However, with all the curve balls and forks in the road life presents, one thing never wavered, until now. This Saturday marks the first opening day of deer season I will have missed since I’ve been old enough to sit still (although “sitting still” was a stretch at times).
Many writers have “waxed poetic” about deer camp, the laughs and the thrill of shooting a big buck, and rightfully so. I’ll miss those things, but the hardest part about missing my first deer opener is knowing that I’m missing out on one of the few times my dad, brother and I are all together for an extended period of time. Life is busy, we all know that, but deer hunting is one of the rare moments where time stands still, traditions matter, and a smile and a pat on the back mean more than anyone would ever admit aloud.
The saying goes “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” and I’m somewhat ashamed that it took this long for me to really look at the past and realize what I’ve had. The hard work my dad put into building stands, tending to the CRP and making sure his kids grew up to embrace the outdoors has never stood out more. As I continue to grow and realize nothing happens overnight and nothing is free, all of the things I used to take for granted now have the most meaning. Waking up to at 5am with sandwiches made and breakfast on the table, extra hand warmers conveniently placed in pockets, the “honey hole” stand always being available due to dad walking the extra mile to the stand that has never produced. Those are the things I’ll now remember. Taking a bruiser buck is great, but coming to the realization that the old man has always had my back (whether I would have admitted it as a teenager or not) is even better.
My missing of the opener isn’t happening for nothing. I’ll be taking part in the highly anticipated Rooster Road Trip and I’m sure this next week will be one of the best times of my life. Hunting 5 states in 7 days with good company and great dogs is an adventure I signed up for and certainly don’t regret. With that said, I already know where I’ll be next year at this time: Sitting in a deer stand with a sandwich in my hand and a smile on my face.
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