To some being a successful outdoorsman means knowing all the possible hunting and fishing secrets. You may be expecting me to write on topics like, secret spots, hot baits, best hunting times and locations, and any other tips and secrets that I could share. While those topics are often written about and desired, I am going to touch on a different part of being an “outdoorsman/woman”. I want to talk about the little things that are often taken for granted. Items that as an outdoorsman often overlooks. I guess you could say these things are the “finer things in life”.
One year I was sitting in my deer stand on a cold and blustery day. I hadn't seen a deer all day and the sky started to spit out large puffy flaked snow. Snowflakes so big that you could almost see the crystalline structure of the flake as it fell. I was concentrating on keeping warm and looking for any movement of a northern Illinois whitetail, when it occurred to me: it was dead quite and I could actually hear, yes, hear the snow falling. The rest of the time in my stand I found myself not only scanning the trees for deer, but also taking in the glory and beauty that was around me. I watched as the birds huddled up to stay warm and the squirrels were busy digging in the leaves in search of a leftover acorn or two. These are some of the things that are often overlooked by an outdoorsman. We often get tunnel vision in our quest for fish or game so we don’t take the time to understand what it means to be an outdoorsman is.
Take a minute and think, what does being an outdoorman/woman mean to you? Take that minute and reflect on some of the stories and experiences that you have shared with others or by yourself. Hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking and the like are an opportunity to see things that you don’t often see in your everyday life. They give you the opportunity to experience nature in a different setting. As an outdoorsman these are the often times when fathers bond with their children, when families are together with no distractions like video games or a tv. These are opportunities to open your eyes to a whole new world.
There are no major tips, tricks or techniques that I can teach you to be a better outdoorsman. Only you can teach yourself. I can only point you in the direction to take to expand your understanding and enjoyment of the outdoors. The next time you venture out into the great outdoors, take some time to look around. Let your eyes capture the beauty of what is in front of you. Watch the great Blue heron as he fishes along the shore, stop your stalk to notice the cycle of life that takes place in the forest.
Reflecting back to the story I told you earlier, I didn't harvest an animal that day, but I did take with me a better appreciation of what was around me and I was able to experience the outdoors in a way that others may not understand. I was one with the outdoors. I was successful that day, I had succeeded in allowing myself to find the true meaning of what it means to be an Outdoorsman.
I want to leave you with a quick prayer that I carry around with me when I hunt or fish. Take these words with you into the field and reflect on what has been given to you.
St. Hubert, Guide me afield safely
and successfully so that the game
I harvest shall be in the manner in
which the Lord and the Law intendedit,
and that the fruit of my harvest will be a
benefit to myself and conservation.