Bestul: Let It Begin!

Tomorrow is the opening day for archery seasons in the two states where I do most of my deer hunting; Minnesota and Wisconsin. I'm well into my third decade as a bowhunter, and I guess this should be "old hat" for a guy with faded camo and grey in his sideburns, but it's not. I've been a certified mess this week; lousy concentration at work, easily distracted in conversation, restless while falling asleep…

The daydreaming jags responsible for all this would make more sense, I believe, if there weren't 100 days of hunting ahead. As a youngster, I remember dad and I prepping for a long weekend of gun hunting on our family farm that would be our only safari of the year. Now I can sneak out my backdoor and sit in a tree almost any time a break in work and family duties allows. Yet the feeling--that keen sense of anticipation and excitement--is virtually the same.

I guess Life just seems better to me when deer season is open. Many years ago I was a teacher, and a couple of colleagues and I would share bowhunting stories each day in the teacher's lounge. There was a non-hunting teacher who would listen to our tales, which would almost never include the shooting of a deer. One day he leaned forward in his chair and said "I have finally figured you guys out. At first I thought you were blowing smoke when you said you passed a shot because the deer wasn't close enough, big enough, or standing at the wrong angle. But I get it now…You don't shoot because you don't want the season to end."

We all laughed at that, and what he said was partially true; in that time and place, you got one deer tag, and when you punched it you were done hunting. But these many seasons later, I see the wisdom in that man's words. I don't hunt so much to tag something as I do to just be out there, observing the rituals of whitetails and the creatures I see each fall. Opening Day is tomorrow. And already I don't want the season to end.