An Eastern Perspective on Opening Day

The change begins to take hold. You look out your window to the green leaves and summer grasses. Your thoughts long for brown, orange and gold, to falling leaves and dropping temperatures

Rumors of fall’s arrival work their way through towns with one stoplight where kids still get pulled out of school for opening day and where inside small diners, farmers and hunters talk about crops and deer over coffee.

Through your sweat and the dirt on your hands, you’ve watched plots sprout, grow tall and feed wildlife.

You’ve seen crowns of bone take shape in a short time, then lose their velvet sheaths.

You’ve set your stands, mounted your cameras, double and triple checking them.

You’ve seen deer from last year mature into magnificent bucks, while the next generation of spotted fawns find their way through the woods.

 

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Your coffee maker will whir to life at 3 a.m. but it won’t matter as you never really fell asleep. Your gear is meticulously laid out and scent-controlled, almost as if you’ve been ready for this day since the final shooting hours of last season.

Old farm roads illuminate by the glow of your headlights and your rig cruises on autopilot toward the gate and patch of woods where you park.

As the engine dies, you let the outside world settle. You ease the truck door open and carefully close it. The early morning quiet is fragile and you don’t dare break it.

The cooler temperatures you dreamt of haven’t arrived yet and instead you’re met with the warmth of a still thriving summer and mosquitos the size of small birds buzzing in your ear.

Sweat starts beading on your brow and you have to stop walking now and then to slap a mosquito, but electricity still runs through each step.

Your mood is a 10 out of 10 with excitement equal to the peak of the rut.

You’re back where you belong, where you’ve been waiting to be for months.

The conditions may not be perfect, but it doesn’t matter. It’s hot, humid and miserable but passion and love have driven you to endure the weather.

Today isn’t about making a kill, it’s about being back in the moment and paying attention to details most never notice in their day-to-day lives.

It’s about hunting again.

From the perch of your stand, opening morning unfolds before you. Birds flutter in the tree you’re in, squirrels run from branches and sunlights touches the top of the forest. It’s a scene a growing number of people will never witness in their lives.

Your senses regain their mid-season form as you pick up on every bird song, twig crack and rustle of leaves. You get fooled by a squirrel that by all accounts sounded like it was 150 pounds. Then you get fooled by another.

You walk out, without having much luck and nothing but optimism in your heart. Bit by bit, the fall chill will take over the mornings will take over the mornings and the leaves will start to turn to orange and red. The rut will creep closer and mature bucks will move through the woods like gray ghosts.

Back at the truck, you admire the woods you just walked out of, thankful for the opportunity to see one more hunting season, thankful for the gift that is the fall.

On your drive out, another car slows down to talk hunting. They ask where you hunted this morning.

“In the woods,” you reply. “In my tree.”

Opener is Everything