It has sure taken long enough to get here, but archery season in our section of Florida, Zone C, as defined by the Florida Wildlife Commission has finally arrived! To say I’m excited about opening morning is a huge understatement and I know that there are so many of you out there sharing my excitement. My inbox has filled up lately with requests for where to go and looking for tips and tactics to fill your tailgates and I’m mighty grateful to each of you who have taken the time to e-mail me. I truly wish you all great success!
For my non-hunting fans, whom I as well happily hear from often, I know you won’t be in the field Saturday morning, but I do hope that you’ll take a chance and join us at some point. It isn’t necessary to build skills with a weapon with the intent of procuring dinner; truly, you can experience the same level of excitement by harvesting your memories with a camera. The point is to be there and smell the woods, hear the sounds of undisturbed nature, see wildlife unaware and immerse yourself into the wild places. It will give you a beautiful experience while shedding away any stress and anxiety from your normal day to day life.
For me, it’s more of a spiritual journey than wholly about filling a cooler. I think of all of the big churches I’ve visited however solemnly ornate, and how none of them could possibly compare with Florida’s wilderness. The brilliantly colored birds and the soul soothing sounds of life all about which gives such a soothing feeling of peace. Some of the places I’ve hunted here along the coast at times, look to me like the kind of place even God would visit to relax after a long day of watching over us sinners. Not likely He’d go and sit inside of a church.
I’ve always been attracted to the wild and lonely places. As a boy I was gifted the freedom to roam at will over the family farm and the neighboring woods. I learned many lessons in those days chasing squirrels and other small game with my bow and arrow and even as a teenager after I’d arrowed my first buck. I felt like the richest kid on the planet as I sat there amongst the palmettoes stroking his soft hide, patting the hardened antlers and smelling how sweet he smelled. I cried a little then as I recall. Not for having taken the life, but for the overwhelming solemnity of it all. I guess it was just an instinctive reaction, because the emotions are just as strong over thirty years later.
I’ll tell you too, a great thing about hunting is that you don’t have to take a life to have enjoyed it. Many’s the time I’ve let an old buck walk off after having him in my sights. The freezer already filled back home, the need for fresh meat at a minimum and the scene of his arrival too special to spoil; as if it would somehow be rude to let the arrow fly. They walk away never the wiser and I too walk away with a wonderful memory.
As always, I thank you for the opportunity to visit here in this column and if you have any questions or feedback, give me a shout at [email protected].