Tonight I rushed home from work, loaded the dog in the truck and headed out to the farm for one last hunt. Kentucky’s Canada goose season ends tomorrow and that means my year in the field is almost over. I will probably get out and squirrel hunt a couple of times but this is basically it for me. It is bittersweet of course, when I would love to have a few more weekends but know it is time to close things out. I am mentally and physically exhausted, in a good way, and in serious need of some rest. It’s time for me to turn towards the neglected parts of my life and also time to reflect.
This year, like the year before, we hunted as much as possible. From the start of turkey season last April to now I spent roughly 50 days in the field. We hunted in 98 degrees and 90% humidity back around Labor Day and this past Saturday the windchill was in the single digits and we had to break ice on the pond to put our decoys out. I hunted eight pieces of land, two for the first time. I spent time in the field with old friends and introduced one new person to our sport. Murphy is still a work in progress, losing one duck this year and then earning his dinner on several other occasions. My shooting was on point during dove season, fell apart during duck season and bounced back for a banner day of goose hunting two weeks ago. I took a deer for the first time in three years.
The picture above the wild game section of our freezer. We have quite a diversity of items, all taken here in Kentucky. This includes deer, frog, goose, duck, rabbit, squirrel and turkey. To round things out I added a whole country ham that was gifted to me over the holidays. There is more deer in storage at my mom’s house and nearly 20 pounds of venison was given to landowners as a thank you for letting us hunt their property. I have dozens of recipes I want to try this spring and summer but none have me nearly as excited as this recipe for smoked goose breast.
With snow forecasted for us tomorrow spring still seems a long way off but we know from experience that it will come fast. Seed catalogs will start showing up in the mail soon as I shift into gardening mode. There is clover to plant at the farm for the spring turkey season. The ten pounds I add nearly every year while feasting on weekend gas station food will need to be worked off. New locations to scout for frogs on those hot summer nights and landowners to sweet-talk for next season.
For the first time I felt the years catch up to me after a few brutal hunts this season. We spent four hours one morning hunting in cold rain and I went to bed that night feeling like I had been run over by a truck. When I dragged my deer out of the creek bottom where she fell my shoulders were sore for days. The crows feet on my face have become more pronounced though I am proud to report my recently-tested vision is still 20/20. I keep finding white hairs in my beard and suddenly 37 feels pretty close to 40. And yet I feel no desire to slow down. Those little moments feel like challenges, not warning signs.
All-in-all this was a great season. It was marked by a few personal successes and the continued building of a solid team with my hunting partner. He and I have begun to develop a shorthand of sorts and a commitment to mutual success that I believe will pay off big in the years to come. I also mark this season with my usual thankfulness. I am blessed beyond words with kind landowners, dependable hunting buddies and an abundance of wild game. The time for sleeping in on the weekends has arrived and a fat stack of books is under my nightstand. Additionally my blogging responsibilities have been neglected. That ends now. Time to start thinking about next year.