This time of year I find myself all too often lost in thought of the days to come. Sometimes it’s a rifle slung over my shoulder as memories creep in of deer hunts past but not always just about deer on the ground. Sometimes it’s of a walk in the dark through dew covered grass with a bag of mallard decoys on my shoulder and a hint of orange in the eastern sky as I bump a still sleeping pheasant under a foot bringing a gasp and two steps back. Often too I can shut my eyes imagining Snap on point holding a yet to be shot rooster tight to the ground. The smell of yet to be poured coffee from a steel thermos permeates the air similar to one made in a memory past. It’s easy too in this late summer to be parked on a gravel country road along a grass-covered WPA, settle back in the truck seat closing my eyes and see into the past finding myself walking with dad my short legs trying to keep up or with my boys, Erik and Chad when they were a similar size and age trying to do the same. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler and past memories flood into my consciousness anxious to make new ones very soon. You see we’re on falls’ doorstep and I’m getting excited all over again. It happens the same every year.
I’ve already been afield with the dogs a few times but sometimes I wonder what the motivation for that really is? It might easily be the solitude because most times I am alone but for the dogs. Tire tracks matting down the parking area grasses are yet to be made because it is early and few seem to share the same enthusiasm for being there. The dogs quarter in front in search of birds but when they wildly flush there is no sound of gunshots or retrieves to be made. But still we walk and they work happy to be there too. Each day I make mental notes of what we see, the cover status and on newly discovered public grounds notes include what’s over the next hill. I look too for water hidden from the future road hunter eyes and for signs that deer are present. Always I carry water bottles sometimes for me but more often it’s for the dogs because it’s their job to show me the presence of game. We share and they don’t seem to mind!
For the last few years I’m made numerous pre-season walks and the funny thing is I’ve gotten to enjoy these times every bit as much as those with the over-under resting on my shoulder. Maybe it’s age because the data base in my memories go back a number of years or maybe it’s that I’ve begun to cherish every moment afield knowing that there are a finite number yet to be experienced. Or maybe just maybe it’s for more selfish reasons hedging bets for hunts yet to come learning where game is more plentiful and where it’s not. Giving it some more thought before writing on I think the real reason is that it’s because I can and that I enjoy I mean really enjoy being out there!
So whatever the reason is I guess it really doesn’t matter but my suggestion to you is that if you haven’t yet made some preseason walks afield Try It and I bet you’ll LIKE IT!
Gotta go the dogs ‘r tellin’ me it’s time for another walk! So what do ya think – is it Practice or Preparation?