Autumn begins its approach towards winter. The days grow shorter and the temperatures begin to drop. The crunching of the leaves echoes loudly through the silent forest. As I make my way through the woods to my hunting stand in the pre-dawn hours, the bite of the frosty air and the dark stillness around me breathe excitement into every ounce of my being. Sitting motionless in the cold awaiting the first glimpse of daylight, all of my senses are on high alert. I try to control the racing of my heart. I am thankful for this magical time…it is hunting season in Pennsylvania!!
Each time I enter the woods to hunt, I detach from the fast-paced chaos of everyday life, push pause, and step into the moment. The soothing of my soul begins as Mother Nature reveals her wonder and beauty in the most magical and glorious ways. Whether it is the gift of a buck that fills the freezer with meat, a noisy squirrel that keeps your nerves on edge, or a cold soaking rain that chills you to the bone; Mother Nature never fails to amaze and educate. These lessons I am thankful for.
I did not grow up in a hunting family, but I was fortunate to marry into one. My husband grew up a farm boy, and naturally a hunter. Over the years, I assisted my husband with preparations for his hunting trips with the men in the family. I shared in both the anticipation and rewards of each hunt. But, every time my husband went off to hunt, I found myself longing to be part of the family hunting trip and the secrets it held.
After some time, the demands of life began to alter the family hunting trips. The hunting party decreased in size. While these changes took place, the desire within me to hunt continued to burn even brighter. My husband could not help but notice. The day finally came and I was invited on the family hunt. I don’t think everyone was as happy to have me in the hunting party as I was to be there. I was put to the test, over and over again. I rose to each challenge. I would continue to hunt. How could I not? That first trip to the woods left me with an addiction to hunting that couldn’t be ignored. Not to mention, a whole lot of experiences that I am most grateful to have had.
My love for hunting has never waned. My husband and I continue to hunt together. Our family hunting party is now made up of myself, my husband and our daughter. She was born with the same passion for the outdoors and love of hunting that is her family heritage. Hunting as a family has proved to be a most treasured tradition. Hunting has strengthened our family bond, fortified our values and the respect we have for one another, and has provided countless lessons in life. We all agree that hunting has made us stronger, smarter, more patient, and more passionate people.
As the holiday season approaches and 2016 comes to a close, hunting season for my family begins to kick into high gear. During this time we celebrate and reflect upon all of the gifts that hunting has bestowed upon us. Whether a successful hunt is defined as a freezer full of meet or lessons learned as we tell the tale of the one that got away; we can truly measure the success of our hunts by the bond that hunting has created in our family. For those of us who hunt, we are blessed with a gift that unites us. We are all part of something greater than ourselves; and for this, I am thankful.
November 18, 2016