Ahhhh…summer. Sweat, dirty bare feet, wedding invitation after wedding invitation, the days that you spend trying to get to fall so that you can go hunting again. At least that is what it feels like to me. I know a lot of you relate to this as there are probably at least 250 different memes floating around social media land every day stating exactly how many days, hours, minutes, seconds, breaths and heartbeats there are left until opening day of hunting season.
The funny thing is, that day is different for everyone. You might be hunting archery elk and I might be on a rifle moose hunt in some state 2000 miles away and those seasons most likely won’t start on the same day but the point of the memes is obvious. Many of us live for that day and we think about it with great anticipation all through the long cold winter, the wet muddy spring and the hot sweltering summer. We know it is coming and we just can’t wait.
Why? Why can’t we just enjoy the season we are in for what it has to offer? Are we really such bloodthirsty savages that we can’t just chill and think about suntan toes and popsicles? Yes…and no. For me and, I think it is safe to say, for most of you it doesn’t have anything to do with killing at all really. Yes, in some sense it does as the meat is a highly treasured prize and I wouldn’t go hunting if a dead animal wasn’t a part of the goal but that isn’t what I spend all summer pining for. I want the smell of the dead foliage mixed with strong pine and cool breezes. I want the sound of elk bugling. I want to see the antelope coursing across the sage prairie like tuna through the sea. I want to feel my heart beating through my chest as I freeze like stone while a whitetail traces my form with his eyes trying to figure out what he just saw. I want the experience, the experience that gives me goose bumps when I think about it and as I write this. This is an addiction. The woods and fields are like that devil on your shoulder enticing you away from reality with her promise of excitement and adventure. She is so convincing. She has so much to offer…a sprained ankle, lost gear, a broken hunter heart after blowing your chance of a lifetime. No, but really the hardships of hunting are part of what make it so addicting. Overcoming obstacles to reach your goals is one of the greatest feelings on earth and hunting provides that opportunity over and over again while surrounding us with gorgeous indulgences for all of our senses.
Nature is incredible. I could go on and on just about the smells. Wet muddy bogs full of moss and ferns where the elk have just finished wallowing. That is a smell unlike any other…a very good smell. Fresh trampled sage where a herd of antelope just passed through, the smell of the dead grasses after a light fall rain, the scents carry with them memories that are cherished. The scents themselves become cherished and the same is true with sights, sounds, and so on. These make life truly rich. I yearn for these things whenever I am not experiencing them. I am always looking forward to my next opportunity to enjoy them and I treasure and appreciate every chance that I get. In my mind, these chances can be fully enjoyed or partially enjoyed based on my ability to immerse myself in them.
I believe that the stronger I am and the fitter I am the more I will get out of each and every encounter I have with Mother Nature. I can go farther, stay longer and breathe deeper if I have invested time and energy into being my fittest self and reaching my full potential. If I choose not to workout I am robbing myself of experiences I could have enjoyed had I just had the self-discipline to prepare myself for them. To me that is a great tragedy.
I value these adventures so much that the thought of losing a part of one will motivate me to push myself harder than almost anything else. If I see a mountain I want to view it as an adventure not an obstacle. I don’t want to be held back by my own weaknesses. I want my body to be the best tool for navigating the wilds of the western mountains that it can possibly be. This takes work, dedication, patience, perseverance and consistency. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Have I made it? No.
I have not reached my full potential but I will never be done chasing it because that is how I want to live my life. I want my last days on earth to be spent chasing my dreams. Having something to work toward makes life worth living. Working toward it makes each experience that much more fulfilling. I am extremely passionate about this. I spend a lot of time researching fitness, nutrition, hunting, and basically anything having to do with the outdoors. I feel blessed to have found my passion and have the opportunity to invest in it.
This summer I will continue to push myself out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally and I know that when that opening day comes I will be more ready than I was any year before. There will be many adventures waiting, many memories to make and a lot of mountains to climb. Will I be the strongest person in the woods? No. Will I be the strongest version of myself I have ever been? That is my goal and while I impatiently wait for fall I will do everything within my power to make it a reality. So here’s to fall and all the days we will spend pining for it, may they be few and productive.