I am 67 years old. I know that sounds old to some of you, and in truth it sounds kind of old to me.
I have told you before that aging has been a mystery to me for the past several years. Although I am told that I am getting older and I definitely see signs of that, sometimes in my twisted mind I still think I am about 27.
Like many of you sportsmen out there (yes, that includes the girls), I find myself gauging time and the past by the seasons of the year — such as spring and fall — and by the different hunting seasons — as in deer, squirrel or turkey. So if I am trying to think about when I may have been in a particular place or when I last saw some old buddy of mine, it would go something like this: "When was it that I was on this forest service road last? Was it last spring gobbler season, or was that in deer season?"
You get the idea.
Thinking about the seasons of the year, to which we as hunters and fishermen are so closely tied, I can see my life in terms of the time going by when the seasons change. When we are in the spring of our lives, everything is fresh and new. We have the energy to do seemingly anything, but we don't know it.
For instance, I can easily remember when hearing a turkey gobble, I ran to it. You had to get there really fast or, somehow, he would go away and you would never hear him again. Your success with every turkey you heard seemed to be gauged by how quickly you got in his neighborhood. That was in the spring; now that I am in late fall or possibly the winter of my time here, the speed factor doesn't seem to be as important. Now don't get me wrong — if I need to hustle a little in the turkey scenario or some other hunting episode, I will do it. In general, though, I am not in such a hurry anymore.
One of the things I wish I could pass along to younger hunters and outdoorsmen on the trail is this: You are not going to believe how quickly it is going to go by, and as you get older, the seasons go by faster.
You wait and wait for spring turkey season or bow season for deer, then it's here and gone so fast you think you missed it. Every day outside in the deer stand or squirrel woods is a gift to you, so take it and use every last drop of it as you are not guaranteed tomorrow. The same is true for your time with your family and friends: Live each of those days with them as if it were the last one, because it may be.
I wish someone had told me all of this back in the spring.
I hope you don't think this is rambling too much. It seems we are in a time in our country when we are very divided and all of us are under a lot of stress. Maybe stop and take a breath and take stock of what season you are in and how you might better use your time. There is a lot of good here and a lot for us to be thankful for. For us in the outdoors world, most any of our activities and hunting- and fishing-related pursuits will not be prevented by a virus or anything else.
Go to deer camp, go run those bird dogs and squirrel dogs, and enjoy it as you were meant to do. Remember those seasons are going to go by quickly. If you are in the spring, revel in it and make every day count. If you think you are in the winter, I would tell you to do the exact same thing.
Don't worry about me. I may have sounded a little down back there in the beginning of this, but I have a lot to do, from deer season to winter turkey hunting to two months of squirrel dog chasing. There is a lot of ground to cover, but I can do it. I mean, I'm only 27.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.