Sage Grass & Cedars
by Darrell Thompson
There are many things that come with much anticipation and leave with an equal but opposite emotion. I suppose that all of us that claim to still be alive have something that still excites in a similar manner. The things that push our buttons are as diverse as people themselves can be diverse. That is the beauty of it. Have you thought how boring life would be if we all loved and hated the same things.
One of the seasons that comes to me with great anticipation is deer hunting season. It is also a season that goes and leaves me behind like an old friend that is going away on a trip and won't return for 293 days. At least with friends, you could give them a hug, say your farewells and make mutual promises of when you plan to meet again. That leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling that makes you smile in anticipation of the next meeting.
In years past, when I had just begun to really enjoy deer hunting, the night before opening day could be a pretty restless night. I usually stayed up late making preparations that I thought were vital to insure the success of the next day’s hunt (as if anything could guarantee success). Then there was an almost sleepless night; looking at the alarm clock every 10 to 15 minutes to see if it was finally time to get up. It was strange how all this sleepless anxiety subsided after an hour in the woods and changed into a state of inability to hold my eyes open.
The end of deer season does not come and go without emotion. That emotion, what ever it is, is usually dependent on the success of the season. I think with every hunter, there is the success to time ratio that determines how we feel about the season coming to an end. This ratio varies from hunter to hunter, but we all evaluate the season based on how much success we’ve had compared to the amount of time spent in the woods. I use the word success because I have learned (more by necessity than choice) that success can be measured in more ways than how many deer that I have harvested.
The '06-'07 season was shaping up to be one of those seasons to be remembered more by frustration than satisfaction. Thus far, it had been another of those "one bullet seasons". At that rate a box of ammunition would last me for twenty years. At my age, would I ever need to buy ammunition again? It seemed as if the end of this year’s deer season would come as a mercy killing for me in that it would save me from more frustration and a declining success/time ratio.
The culmination of this year’s season was to teach me a new way of satisfaction and success. My oldest son, Dustin had always shared my love for hunting and often went with me to the hunting club at Waterloo. However, he usually drove separately because he often had other plans after hunting. Josh, my youngest son, had not seemed to care much for deer hunting, but had decided that he would go with us on this last Saturday of the season.
Dustin and I planned the hunt to put Josh in the best chance of seeing deer, but it was not to be. Neither of us had the good fortune to see any deer, much less get a shot. We each heard a few shots in the distance that hinted that some hunter somewhere might be having some luck, but all was quiet along the Pea Ridge Road. At dark, we gathered back at the deer camp and lamented the fact none of us had even seen deer.
It was an unusual night since neither of the boys had plans to rush off to, so I suggested that we stop and get a bite to eat. So, there we were, at the Dixie Diner on the Waterloo Road, a father and two sons, eating the $6.95, all-you-can-eat chicken finger/catfish special. It wasn’t too bad of a way to finish off a season.
Darrell Thompson is the Moulton store manager of Lawrence County Exchange.