Hunting for a winter mindset
My decision to not go hunting this year concerns me. How will I get ready for winter’s coming cold?
You see, hunting, more than anything else prepared me for those long months when the dark of night rules more than the light of day.
Getting up to go hunting long before the sun comes up helps me accept that this will be the norm for a long time to come. And being outdoors when the sun rises and sets puts me in sync with nature’s rhythm of the seasons. Being outside all day toughens one up to the drop in temperature that makes trying to keep warm more of a chore than a fashion statement.
The long walks hiking up and down the mountains that come with toting a heavy rifle and a pack full of provisions also make for getting in shape. Lord knows I need to get in shape for the food intake that lies ahead, especially during the holidays. This year I seem to be more out-of-shape than any time in recent memory.
Hunting also awakens the senses to life’s little pleasures like the beauty of a sunset, birds singing, the leaves changing or the sound of the wind through the trees. It makes you more aware of the world around you. Though you can’t literally stop and smell the roses when in the woods, you can breathe deeply of crisp mountain air and be thankful for another day of life.
Sometimes it means just stopping what you’re doing and taking a break from the drudgery of duty to everyone but yourself. You do deserve a break today, so take one.
But I will miss picking out a good tree to sit down under, to forget that I’m supposed to be hunting and take a nap.
I will miss the hard haul up the face of my favorite canyon when my heart beats so fast it reminds me how we have to take care of our body, how fragile life is. It makes me stop and thank Creator for such a gift. How can you be grumpy over sunlight deprivation when you’re thankful for being alive?
Sometimes you can blend in so well with your surroundings, other animals don’t know you’re around. That gives you a chance to watch nature up close, to learn from creatures rarely seen.
One thing I won’t miss is doing without a shower for days. Of course no one who is hunting with you notices because they’re equally stinky. But the older I get the more I appreciate and enjoy a good hot shower.
It’s probably the mental preparation for winter that hunting brings that is most important to me. Having time to think about facing life’s inevitable cycles should not be a luxury dependent upon one yearly event.
Sure, I can cross country ski or snowshoe in the snow.
But the fact is that my mental health requires making time to get outdoors and hike my way into winter, and the sooner the better.
Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories and concerns with readers every other week.
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