View Full Version : Thoughts on opening day 1999

September 7, 1999, 06:03 PM
As always there is the sleepless nights prior to the opening day of dove season. Everything was layed out as if it were possible for me to oversleep on this particular Saturday morning. The forecast called for overcast skys and windy conditions. I left the house three hours in advance of the twelve noon beginning of the season, in part to my inability to stay in the house even one moment longer.

I met up with my hunting partner of the previous dozen years at his brother in laws house. He had joined our team every year for the last several seasons. My normal hunting partner is a man that I only see on this day or two all year long. It is, as always, as if we spend significantly more time together, because it would be unthinkable for anything to come in our way of this neo-religious experience that we share. We catch up on our lives from the past year, then begin the trek to the chosen field.

Anticipation is in the air as we take two vehicles to the cut corn field that is to become part of this years memories. We tke two vehicles because his brother in law has chosen this year to introduce his five year old to our collective experience. He was correct in assuming that he would get cranky and need a nap. He did however get the chance to shoot a single shot twenty gauge at a tin can mounted atop corn stalk. It was a pleasure to see our next generation of hunter getting his feet wet under his fathers' tutoraledge.

As is the case in most of our opening day hunts, we saw precious few birds flying until around four o'clock. Then, for the next two hours we had the time of our life. I missed many more than I hit; I did however in one stretch hit five of five birds with a total of six shots. At this point I was thoroughly convinced that I would quickly get my limit and have to retire and watch the rest of the crowd try for the same. At some point reality took over and I ended up with eight birds for the day. We stayed for an hour after they quit being cooperative. I field dressed my supper and after dropping my friend off at his vehicle, made my way back to the house.

I got back home to find the family had gone to a movie; another few moments to savor my day. With my hunting clothes still on, I simultaneously fired up the grill and my first Miller Lite. As I watched the blue flame that was pre boiling my dinner before grilling, I couldn't help but to think back to every shot of the day. The hits and misses blurred as I slipped into thinking about my Father (deceased since 1988), and the lifelong gift he gave to me in teaching me to shoot and hunt. I thought of the day in 1979 that I had to tell my Father that his son had gotten into no small amount of trouble at college. Upon hearing that he would make the three hour drive up the following weekend, I thought that my world would surely come to an end. Upon arrival he dealt with the problem swiftly and surely. But just before he left he presented me with a brand new Reminton 1100 that I had been coveting for some time. He had gotten it for me before the problem arose. He let me know that day that through thick and thin that he loved me unconditionally. To this day, that act of graciousness has set the tone in dealing with my childrens' problems.

I thought of the camraderie that I have experienced in all my hunting life. I thought of the one handed right to left crossing shot that I made some eighteen years ago when a bird caught me while I was drinking from a canteen. This, of course, was the same day that my soon to be brother in lawcouldn't hit the broad side of the proverbial barn. A fact that I to this day don't hesitate to bring up in his company.

As I was eating my birds at the supper table, it occured to me that this is who I am. I am a hunter and an outdoorsman, and I am never happier than when I'm engaged in some sport involving the outdoors. Then it came to me that this is what our present government and society wishes to take away from me. I then pulled out my pay stub and realized that I am paying them for this treatment. How dare they!

I bring this up because, like many in the hunting community, I have taken my rights for granted. I have been content to let others fight my battles for me as if it weren't my fight. This is wrong for me and every other hunter who like myself doesn't belong to the NRA, or write my representatives, or support those who take up our cause. For this I am ashamed of myself. In no other area of my life do I expect or recieve anything that I do not work for. What would my Father think? This situation will be rectified.

"Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
- Elie Wiesel 1928

Al Thompson
September 7, 1999, 07:25 PM
Great post!

Lost my Dad and my best hunting buddy two years ago - know how you feel..


Long Path
September 7, 1999, 10:31 PM
My dad is my favorite hunting buddy. Someday I may have to hunt alone, but for now, there is the time enough to hunt with my father, and to enjoy this pasttime with him, (even if the cell phone did come out in the field on Saturday!!) and to love what we do together. Likewise do I live as a hunter among my friends.

Will my offspring get to do the same until their daddy dies? I choke on the fearful answer.