The alarm beeps 4:30 and I fumble for the snooze before it wakes Jess and the girls. I force open my lids, pull the phone from its charger, and check the weather. My eyes burn from the screen’s glow and notice a messenger bubble in the middle of the screen.
John is already awake and telling me to meet him at the crossroads instead of the usual rendezvous point. “I’ve got us a special spot today,” he types, “…one of my old honey holes. I haven’t hunted it in years.”
“Understood,” I thumb back, “field boots or knee-high rubbers?”
“Better bring the rubbers. It rained pretty good last night and we are hunting by a creek. It’s probably going to be wet.”
“Good,” I think to myself, “the deer won’t hear us coming”. I realize we won’t hear them either, but cast the counterpoint aside to avoid dampening the excitement.
There’s nothing like a Michigan October 1.
It is the one time of year adults happily rise before their alarms and toss their covers to the night like children on Christmas morning. Only it is the possibility of wild things and not the brightly wrapped gifts and sparkly tree that drives them into the cold, unforgiving wood at such an hour.
This rush into solitude is hard to explain to the non-hunting world. The idea of trading a perfectly warm bed and pot of coffee for a long, lonely sit in the cold, dark woods seems ludicrous at best.
But something peculiar happens on such a morning. Something that must be witnessed rather than explained, which is why the non-believers don’t get it. We don’t have the vocabulary to describe such a feeling — though many try.
While the human race is divisive on so many fronts, anyone with a touch of wild spirit would agree that few things compare to the beauty of a morning sunrise. Likewise, any sportsmen would agree this feeling is amplified ten-fold while afield. And I believe, that out of this segment of enthusiasts, it is the bowhunter who has the best seat in the house.
Ol’ Fred said it best, hunting “cleanses the soul”, and the crackle of leaves in the ears and crisp autumn air in the nostrils would leave the most obtuse of naysayers clamoring for a counterpoint.
Hunting does indeed cleanse the soul.
It brings you peace, it removes you from the worries of the world, and gifts you the precious moments of reflection that should be cherished by any human being.
My brothers and sisters: a bow in the hand is worth all the riches in the world on mornings such as this. The most hardened of warriors couldn’t pry it loose without a fight — and anyone in the know would know better. October is a precious month — rain, sleet, or snow — to rest, recharge, reflect, or seek redemption for the previous year’s failed attempts.
Truth-be-told I haven’t had a successful one in some time. Whether it be work, family, rain, or my own ineptitude, month number ten seems to be a slippery one for me. That, however, doesn’t stop me from cherishing every minute of it.
As Emerson once said…
“Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.”
Get out of bed. Grab your bow. It’s time to go hunting.