Friday, January 15, 2010

Season's End 1

Today is the last day of Oklahoma's deer archery season and although I have very little faith in actually killing anything, I'll be going out anyway because, well, it's the season's end and I feel somehow compelled to, an obligation to see the sun set on yet another year.

My notion of a year, anyway. Forget that whole Gregorian calendar nonsense. My year ends with the close of the last hunting season and it starts with my first bass in the spring. The time between those two events is what alcohol and books are made for.

According to that definition I suppose that, technically my year doesn't end today. Duck season runs through Sunday and both quail and goose season run through the middle of February and I'm even planning on getting back into rabbit hunting - which runs through March 15 - now that my eldest son is old enough to keep up.

So I guess it's a long sunset. But it starts today. And I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness. Or perhaps it's a creeping sense of mortality, an awareness that I'm fast approaching the apogee of whatever arc my life will trace on this earth.

You think about things like that on those cold, incredibly quiet and still late-season bowhunts. The gun hunters are all gone, as are most of the early-season bowhunters. Even most of the quail hunters have packed up by now and the sense of  loneliness is palpable. Sitting out there on those crystalline evenings I can almost feel the land breath a sigh of relief. I know I am, because truth be told I hunt the late season not for the deer, but the solitude.

That solitude is - to misanthropes like myself -  a precious commodity, and one not easily gained when you're a public land hunter, even out here on these hard and lonely plains. Last week another hunter walked in on me while I was bowhunting, a first for me. He never saw me as he walked by. I thought about standing, getting his attention and asking him why, with 16,000 other acres available he felt the need to choose what was surely the only spot on the entire place occupied by another hunter.

But I didn't. Maybe he didn't see my truck and thought he was alone. Maybe he was looking for the same thing I was, just a little peace and quiet. He walked on down toward the river, his illusion of isolation intact.

Mine shattered, I picked up my bow and headed for the truck. I'll be back tonight. I hate to sound like an asshole, but I sure hope that other guy isn't.   


  1. What did that skinny Scottish chick say?

    "I'm only happy when it rains
    I'm only happy when it's complicated
    And though I know you can't appreciate it
    I'm only happy when it rains
    You know I love it when the news is bad
    And why it feels so good to feel so sad
    I'm only happy when it rains"

    Love you man

  2. Today is the last day of our dove season. No one else in our club showed up to hunt this morning, not even the dove. I stood out in the cold by myself, watched the sun come up, watched a few geese and ducks fly by in the distance, and except for not pulling the trigger, didn't regret a minute of it. Solitude is way underrated...

  3. Hey Chad, I find in the solitude that I can feel the world around me, just allowing be to be there with nothing asked for except that I'll come back. but then you always gonna get some right prat breaking the spell don't ya!
    Great piece my man,


  4. Solitude on the last days of a season? I can't fathom it.

    Sounds like you were well camouflaged, if that's any consolation. Better luck this evening...

  5. I used to get a little maudlin around the end of the season. Then I came to CA where the hunting season never ends.

    As far as that search for and appreciation of solitude... I'm with ya there. And nothing kills that sense of peace like the intrusion of another hunter, unintentional as it may be. Hope you got back out there and had the evening I know you were looking for.

  6. Thanks guys. Actually, the other guy didn't show up. Neither did the deer...

  7. One cool thing about the west- lots of empty country to get by yourself in. Even so, you can walk for hours only to start glassing a ridge and find someone on it. "Dang, how did he get up there so fast?"