Dave's Place: Perfection

Life is unsurpassed in the outdoors.

Field & Stream Online Editors

There are so many good reasons to hunt and fish. Here's one:

Not long ago, on a late afternoon in mid-May, I was sitting here in my office trying to finish up a few tasks toward the end of a long workday. But I couldn't do it.

Instead, I opened the window and stared out at the greening woods around our yard. The air was warm and almost still, except for the occasional light breath of a breeze barely strong enough to lift a couple of apple blossoms from the tree near the woodshed and send them floating to the ground.

I wasn't thinking about apple blossoms, though, and I certainly wasn't thinking about the work I should have been doing. There was a perfect image taking shape in my head, and only one thing to do about it. So I threw my fly rod in the truck and drove to a well-known New York trout stream.

When I got there, the river's long pools ran in shadow beneath the sun's last rays, which leaned across the high banks and lit the pale trunks and flickering young leaves of the popples, turning them almost neon yellow.

I stepped into the water and noticed a mayfly spinner fluttering its way upstream. Then another ... and another. And sure enough: Before long, the image in my head as I sat in my office was all around me. Hendrickson spinners by the hundreds bounced over the river and in and out of the rays of sunlight. A trout rose. I unrolled an unusually perfect cast and leaned into a good brown.

* * * * *

Here's another good reason:

A few nights later, I rolled over in bed and looked at my alarm clock. It read 4:17 A.M. I rolled back over and closed my eyes, but I couldn't get back to sleep. I had no plans to go turkey hunting. What I had was another perfect image forming in my brain. And there was only one thing to do about it.

The brightest stars were still flickering a waning light when I got to the woods. So I settled in and waited for the blue light of dawn to spread over the dark hilltops. In a while, a wood thrush whistled its piccolo song, and just after I owl-hooted, a sharp gobble rose from the opposite ridge and rode the still air into the hollow below me where it bounced around the dark corners of the woods. Again, that perfect vision I had seen in my head was now unfolding right before my eyes.

* * * * *

Like I said, there are lots of good reasons to hunt and fish. There's the interaction with nature, the food it often provides, the challenge involved. But I think one of the best reasons has to do with perfection.

It ain't easy to find perfection in this life. Folks certainly go looking for it in all sorts of places. For me, at least, I know I can find it in the woods or on the water -- not every time out, to be sure. But I find it here, it seems, more often than just about anywhere else.