Sometimes, I get email from folks who do not share the same enthusiasm for my lifestyle that most of the folks that come by here do. I am frustrated that they see me and all hunters only as cruel killers.
We are killers, for sure, and maybe that is not the worst of it, I don't really know.
But I do know this...
I have thought for a long time how different it is that we as hunters see the world compared to say the "official" CNN/USA Today version. This feeling is magnified with the approach of a new century. A century where hunters around the world will view this message on little lighted boxes that plug into the walls of their homes, all at the same time. It is so amazing to me that I have hunted and fished in places I can't even pronounce (and that I have GOOD pictures of it all!) and through it all the place I really want to go is back to the beginnng, but more about that later...
And yet, we are still hunters and we do see things differently, even now. We have a slightly different calender, even if we do make our living in some skyscraper in a city where a boss rants about the quarterly reports. To us, some days of the year are still "bigger than Christmas". To a hunter, our birthdays really don't count and to us, the passing of time over the years is not marked by dates on a calender, but by "my first deer season" or "the year Dad missed the big one" or "the second summer we all went to Canada to fish" and now by "my second dog's fifth pheasant opener"
It is our circle of life, I suppose. At least we are as hunters are lucky to have such a thing in this day and age. When it comes right down to it, I think this way of looking at things is a gift from God to those of us that might otherwise go nuts in a life that is really bigger, and smaller and at the same time more dynamic and more fleeting than we dare imagine on planet that is even more so.
And so my simple world starts on a hill. On a snowcovered hill in Pennsylvania. My grandfather's father hunted the deer that lived there at the turn of the century.
His son along with my father and I hunted the ancestors of those same deer together for many seasons on the same hill. We never got many deer in the freeaer, but it didn't matter, because we really weren't hunting deer anyway...
The next big goal I have in life is to take my daughter there for deer season as soon as she is old enough to go. During the brief time this past summer when I thought for sure that she was dead, one of the thoughts that came to me was that we hadn't yet made it to "the hill" to hunt the deer.
What scared me the most is that I could not and can not imagine living the rest of my life without someday seeing her on that hill.
Sound stupid to you? Sound easy to you? You should be so lucky as I.
I hope that my daughter and her children will go there someday to hunt the offspring of the deer I hunted with my father there, on that hill. If they make it there just once with me, anything else I ever do in my life, any troubles I will ever face, will fade to black. Bill Gates will die a pauper compared to me when this comes to pass.
And then it will be my hope that from time to time when my grandchildren are away from that beautiful place that they will remember me and my dad, and all the deer. I hope in this way that they will see the beauty, splendor and wonder of all that our creator has made. I hope that in this way that the skyscraper they work in (or maybe even, the planet they work on) will not seem so tormenting because of the knowlege that they do not have to use it's calender.
And I hope that the deer will still remember us, too. "The year Grandpa and I each killed our first buck", "The last year Denise hunted with us", and "The season Steve came back from Nebraska, wrecked his new truck and then shot a deer anyway"; and maybe even "The year Stephanie got the big one".
I now can carry this one step further in my own way now. I now raise bird dogs to hunt the quail and pheasants where I live, far away from that hill in Pennsylvania. It is my wish that someday, a generation of my dogs will point birds for my grandchildren in the next century. God willing, I will be there to see it, just in case we don't make it to that hill, this will be a fair substitute..
Me, my family, and the deer on the hill. We have made each other what we are on this rock in space. All any of us can ask is to live free, fly strong and die well and that is really all I know.