Hunters need to be more irresponsible.
Yes. Irresponsible. Really.
This doesn’t mean we should forget safe gun handling. It doesn’t mean we should trespass, shoot more than our limit, or break any game laws. What it means is we should act more like footloose kids during summer vacation or winter break. We should act as if school’s out for autumn.
Surely you remember that irrepressible anticipation as each school year neared its end. Freedom! No more homework. No more mandatory attendance in stuffy classrooms when the sun was shining, the birds singing, and all of the big wide world calling right outside that window. Escape. We couldn’t wait.
And here we are five, ten, twenty, forty years down-the-road and look at us. Back in the system. Same desk. Same row. Plugging away in the office. Manicuring the yard. Taking the car in for maintenance. Paying bills. Putting up the storm windows. Chauffeuring the kids to another ball game. Being responsible.
Tilting Toward A Fall
Accepting adult responsibilities is proper, well and good. But meanwhile the Earth is tilting, the days are growing shorter, the leaves are gleaming yellow, amber, red and gold, shouting for our attention. Another autumn has come. And we must grab it before it, like so many before, is gone. There will be no second showings, no reruns.
So… Look overhead. Those are geese arrowing through that blue sky. Somewhere under that vault of eternity elk are bugling. Moose grunting. Ruffed grouse pattering over wet, fallen leaves. Pheasants are ducking through yellowing cattail swamps where wood ducks whistle, squeal, and splash. Mallards swirl over cornfields, a feathered vortex watched by fat fox squirrels perched on fenceposts, winter-ready umbrellas curled overhead.
This Is It!
This is fall! Every outdoorsman’s summer vacation. October. November. School’s out for autumn. Throw down your text books. Slam shut your desk. Rush out that door and shirk your adult responsibilities for a few precious, fleeting moments. Don’t waste this chance to huddle by a campfire and watch the sparks float up to join a million older embers glowing in the Milky Way. Listen for the coyote serenade at sunset, the sky burning red and purple on the horizon while a north breeze sifts a hint of Arctic down your neck.
Now is the season to wake in the dark and crunch toward your stand where whitetails are grunting, snorting, scraping, and chasing their passions. Now is the time to wade the miasma of marsh muck, tossing decoys that land with a thunk while goldeneye wings whistle somewhere in the dark. This is your time on planet Earth, your one chance each year to return to the real world, to savor what our species used to soak up daily — Nature in all her glorious, fleeting, fecund bounty.
Don’t feel guilty. Don’t begrudge yourself this chance. Day after day, month after month we work and endure, repressing that primal urge we all knew as kids — our need to break from our self-imposed restrictions to reaffirm our natural roles as children of Nature. Walk, skip, run from the schoolhouse of your making. Flee into the perfume of wet leaves, the patter of rain on a matt of fallen leaves. Release yourself to inhale the fragrance of wood smoke, the chill of a frosty morning with bobwhites whistling from the woods’ edge while a red fox reconnoiters a tumbling fence line.
Lay down your manuals and laptops, your wrenches and phones. Pick up your shotgun, rifle, bow, knife, and axe. Call the dog, your friends, your sons and daughters. Pack up the tent and sleeping bags, the blackened old frying pan and coffee pot. Head for the woods, the river, grasslands, sloughs, and backwaters of your memory when life was young and autumn a time of richness, your chance at glory among Natures cathedrals where school teaches you what it like to be human, a hunter, and free.
Author Ron Spomer has carried on a love affair with autumn all his life. He heartily recommends others do the same.