So as 2011 slides inexorably towards an end, I’m of a mind to be reminiscent of the year that has past and thought I’d put together a list of some highlights from Get Out and Go Hunting’s inaugural year, as well as document some Christmas wishes I have. Part Two of this post will entail my New Year’s resolutions, and while it will be written at a future date, I can assure you that it may or may not be written under the heavy influence of that heavenly ambrosia known as eggnog.
Let us begin at the beginning. In February of 2011 I decided on a whim (and after having been rejected for the umpteenth time by trade magazines as a contributor) that if my work was “too scattered” or that it wasn’t “product-centred” (these are two actual quotes from rejection letters) that I’d just pitch the whole thing and write for my own recreation and for the potential enjoyment of those browsing the web. It was a little intimidating and even scary at first, but with the support of my wife, my hunting buddies and the emails (both positive and scathingly negative) that I’ve received from literally around the world I began to feel that there was some kind of importance in putting what I wanted to write out there for the world. First and foremost I’d like to thank all the readers, supporters, and yes, even the detractors for keeping me motivated in this self-indulgent lunatic endeavour.
This was the first year where I spent most of my turkey season stalking public land. My experience went from exhilaratingly frustrating to downright irritating but through it all I gained a richer perspective on the opportunities available to us hunters out there that can’t rely on family property or the benevolence of local landowners for a place to hunt. Even getting sniff of a chance at a pressured, public land bird (or buck for those of you who also hunt deer on Crown Land) is something special, because in my mind, there’s no tougher animal out there than one that has survived the focused efforts of countless hunters.
So I didn’t actually create much in the way of large scale controversy, but it was refreshing to see the response to the series of Taboo of the Day posts. The first one of these I put up was actually the most nerve-wracking experience not just of having this blog, but of my writing life to date. My opinions are just that, my opinions, but it was interesting and galvanizing to see the emails come in about these posts. Some of you were staunchly (and sometimes rudely) opposed to my take on the hunting tradition which is fine because it shows there are other hunters out there that share my passion and feel just as vociferously about their beliefs. Surprisingly though, the vast majority of responses I received were overwhelmingly supportive which not only validated my beliefs, but also steeled my impression that the vast majority of the men and women out there hunting share my deep respect for the laws, the landowners, public safety, the game animals, and the tradition at large. Now if we could just get that message and those principles to outshine the damage done by the hunters that don’t share that approach, we’d really be onto something.
If I could be pigeon-holed into the caste of one type of hunter, it would have to be as a waterfowler. Now of course, there are many sub-groups to that species, including the marsh-rats, the big-water hunters, and the flooded woodlot crews, but geography and convenience have conspired to make me a field-hunter and a puddle-jumper. I love the esoteric challenge of turkey hunting and the camaraderie of the deer camp, but there’s just some primal draw of chasing ducks and geese that figures strongly in me, and 2011 was one of the best waterfowl seasons I’ve had in all my years of hunting and tagging along with my Dad and uncles before I could wield a shotgun. As a group we had great hunts with the birds flying well, we created some lifelong friendships and memories, and as an added bonus I was able to document many of the hunts (including two of the best ones I’ve ever been on) right here on the blog, with support from my friend and hired photographer/videographer Lucas Hunter. It was great that I was able to share this tradition with so many of you, and thanks for the great feedback too!
Now onto my Christmas wish-list; some of it is unbelievably materialistic, some of it is more philosophical.
If you could see your way clear to bringing me the following this Christmas, I would be eternally grateful and recommend you to all my friends.
- A nice, shiny new GPS. Yes, Santa, I have a compass, it just isn’t as cool as a Garmin
- New turkey decoys. Maybe one of those hyper-realistic Zink models.
- More patience.
- New boots. I spent this deer season in some hand-me-downs and they were toasty warm, but not very good in terms of remaining tread life. Maybe some Rocky Buck Stalkers?Predator calls. My brother lost my coyote call, so if a FoxPro finds its way into my stocking, I’d be one happy little boy.
- More time to go hunting. Perhaps you could have a chat with my boss…and my wife?
- A 75 yard broadside shot at a standing 10-point whitetail buck. Tall order I know Santa, but if anyone can make it happen it’s probably you. My fault, and I won’t ask again if I find some way to foul that up.
- To have as good a year afield as I did this year. Better if you can swing it, but 2011 was pretty awesome.
Thanks a lot Santa.