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A Hunter's Soul

GuernseyBy Chris Guernsey   

-- I would like to begin by commenting that I have hunted since I was 7 years old, pretty much my whole life. It started with my dad and me going into the woods for deer or out into a flooded field or ponds for ducks. As I got older and started going hunting with friends, my trips became somewhat of an 'ego' thing about who harvested the biggest buck or the most ducks.

Nevertheless, as I got older, I started to recall the things my dad used to say, little things like "Do you smell that?" or "Do you hear that?"

My response was always the same - a cockeyed look and then a stupid answer like, "Do I smell something?" Or maybe I would look around and say, "What should I hear?" He would always just look down at me, smile and shake his head.

Now, I have a daughter who goes hunting, camping, shooting and scouting with me. I finally understand what my dad was talking about. There is nothing better than the smell of the aromatic fir trees drifting through the wind or maybe just a lung full of cool pure mountain air. Sometimes it may only be the sound of a hawk circling in the sky with a crystal blue backdrop. Other times, it is squirrels chattering at each other as they race around through the branches and leaves on the forest floor.

You cannot beat the crisp morning air biting at your fingertips and the top of your ears as you are sitting in a duck blind waiting to hear that first morning honk of a goose or the glimpse of a flock of ducks cupping their wings while you are trying to keep your old lab still until just the right time. It just happens out of nowhere. 

One day you just stop. Something happens to you and hits you right in the heart. There is a change in you and at that moment, you just cannot put your finger on it but you know something is different and you feel that deep connection.

Eventually you get to that point in life when every time you are in the woods or on a duck pond you are overcome by that serene feeling deep down in your soul. That incredible feeling that you get when you can just stand there, amongst nature and it makes you smile and feel completely happy all over. At that point, you know you are part of something so great that there are simply no words to describe the feeling. 

All you can do is crack a smile and shake your head because you finally realize that hunting is not all about the big buck or the number of ducks you bring in. This is about that deep down feeling that can only belong to the hunter's soul.

Chris Guernsey   
Monmouth, Oregon

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