Some years I wish for a bull or buck, ANY bull or buck to step out in the early morning of opening day to fill our freezer and free our time for the coming fall. Like the year my son was born or the year I had a full class schedule and full time job in college. Those years I wanted to fill my tags early and dedicate my time to other things.
But what about the years when friends are flying in later in the season to hunt with me? If my freezer is full but my tag-holder is minus one bull elk tag I’d rather be in a tree stand archery hunting deer than serving as camp cook even though I cherish the evenings sitting around a campfire next to my battered and torn wall tent with my friends.
What if a 4×4 bull dares me to shoot in the first hours of opening day and it’s not a year when I feel the need to fill my tags fast and get home? Ah the dilemma of opening day! To shoot or not to shoot!
Okay, so there are far worse problems to have. We love to hunt and we love to be successful, but what is success? A day spent in the woods with sunshine, rain or snow – whether with warm faces or freezing fingers is a good day. Watching wildlife in its natural environment and acting as the student observers we all are as hunters is special.
To put it in perspective, think about an aging or ill hunter who would give anything just to be outside or sitting by a campfire with smells of wood smoke and bacon wafting through the trees. To hear the sounds of hooves clacking on rocks or crunching leaves would be enough, it wouldn’t matter if they ever raised their rifle or even carried one for that matter. Time in the woods and with friends and family is the ONLY thing that matters when it comes right down to it.
Hunting is about so much more than filled tags and hero shots of bulls and bucks. There’s no denying that as hunters we are there to shoot straight and stand tall when it’s time to cut the date from our FWP-issued piece of paper. But as your hunting season progresses and your tags remain unfilled, be thankful for the opportunity to just be out there and enjoy every minute, breathe it in and remember what hunting is really all about.