2018-01-13 / Outdoors


Lesson in keeping one’s sanity

Many people have spent the last couple of weeks in their cozy homes, waiting things out as frigid weather grips the Northeast. I suspect some of my readers have been struck with “cabin fever.”

God didn’t create man to live in an office. He instilled in us a need and desire for the wild. He created man to be a part of creation.

I sometimes wonder how those who live in the fastpaced hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs have suppressed the natural human desire for contact with the wild. I sometimes have difficulty connecting with such people.

I take to the woods to hunt, fish, or hike primarily for one reason – to give me a connection to the land and to natural things. I am able to keep sane in a world that often seems quite insane.

Even when I’m housebound, I think back to outdoor experiences that have embedded themselves in my memory bank.

Every outdoor adventure can be a learning experience. Occasionally, it can also lead to hunting success. Either way, it instills memories that can last a lifetime. Every outdoor adventure can be a learning experience. Occasionally, it can also lead to hunting success. Either way, it instills memories that can last a lifetime. There was the cold December afternoon when I spotted a deer in the deep snow, making its way through a thick laurel patch. It was the first whitetail I had seen all day as I shivered and thought about giving up.

He was big, and most likely a buck, but was so far away that I surely would never have an opportunity to shoot.

I sat and waited. Gradually, he began moving farther away. A few more minutes passed before he changed direction. Slowly, but surely, he meandered directly toward me. For the first time, I caught a glimpse of his rack.

He wasn’t a trophy buck but, given the challenges of the hunt, he was worth the wait.

Ten minutes passed, and he continued to draw closer. Then he raised his head and emitted a loud grunt. I suspected that he had caught a whiff of my scent. It was crunch time.

Somehow, I calmed myself enough for a shot, and the rest was history.

Another unforgettable memory was on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I can still distinctly hear the faint crunching of leaves growing louder as some animal drew near. Soon, black materialized out of the laurel patch 60 yards away.

I remember the shot, but don’t really remember coming down the tree stand. The next thing I knew I was with the bear, admiring its beauty.

That wasn’t the first bear taken by our group of 11 hunters that day, nor would it be our last. By noon, four of us had bears and another had shot and missed. It was an unforgettable experience.

I’ll always remember an evening during the second week of archery season when I had waited until after dark to leave my stand.

On my way out of the woods, I was walking up within a few feet of a rattlesnake before he cautioned me to come no closer. It wasn’t the first time I’ve come on a rattlesnake in the dark, but with it being October I was completely caught off-guard.

Each time I revisit these sites, the memories come flooding back and I often find myself smiling. There have been countless other experiences that stay with me even today.

The late winter walks, the all-day hikes, the bounty of wildflowers discovered in some isolated hollow during spring turkey season, and the numerous brightly colored brook trout -- the sum of all of these nature experiences I hold in higher regard than the short moments when I’ve had a successful kill.

On every outdoor outing there is something new to be learned or discovered. And the more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much out there.

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