OPENING DAYS!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: October 9, 2023

I never get tired of the next Opening Day. There are so many each year. Archery elk, Antelope, Upland birds, Deer/elk gun, Spring turkey, trout season, and so many more. The first day is often the best day! A first cast, first shot, first blood, first kiss, first beer after a hard day, first whatever. 

I remember sleepless nights waiting for the opportunity to get first crack at the first buck, bird, or trout of the season. My best way to overcome my deer excitement was to hit the woods at 3am. We would hike to the top of a mountain and get into our stands before sunrise. Our goal was to let the othe hunters drive the deer to us. At sunrise, herds of deer would pass our upland stands. I would pick and choose which buck to tag. 

Trout season was also great fun. My home state of Maryland stocked the waters with hatchery trout. Some were monsters. After some preseason scouting, we would agree on where to begin but that meant we had to be there first. Every other angler had the same idea. This meant standing in the dark until 5:30 am, in the cold and rain. We often made a countdown until the first cast. 

Back in the day, there were no opening days. If you saw a deer, elk, lope, bird, or fish, you caught it, killed it, and cooked it. Wild nature was the fast-food store. The problem was that there was no restocking.

Native peoples moved their villages after the meat market and other resources were exploited. If the food source moved, so do the tribe. Even plants and tubers would run out. Most campsites were overused in just a few weeks. They never moved due to an “Opening Day” or because of any hunting/ fishing regulations.

Sportsmen created laws that determined when an annual harvest could take out a surplus, without harming the population. Fewer animals over the winter meant higher survival for those that had to endure the harsh environment. Fall made the most sense. Animal populations were at their highest and healthiest of the year. All critters were fat, and healthy to eat. Hunting after the rut meant that most females were already impregnated with next seasons offspring. Only one male was needed to service many females. 

It was about survival of the fittest. Because of these smart sportsmen, we have more wildlife and fisheries today than ever. Wildlife managers and sportsmen have figured it out. The timing of an opening day is essential to making sure that we have more opening days!

The bad thing about Opening Days is that every season, there is one less. 

Montan Grant

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