“If we just had a pair of hip waders we could get across the river and sneak into that stand quickly and quietly from the back side without our wind ever blowing into the woods. I’ll have to see if I can find a cheap pair somewhere.” Silence……….. followed by “yeah, probably……..can you pass me the green beans”. Apparently the dinner table isn’t where my wife wants to discuss why I think my latest stand location would be a sweet spot with an east wind. I sometimes forget that not everybody is as obsessed with deer hunting as I am. There is always a portion of my mind that is daydreaming, plotting or scheming on something having to do with hunting and at times (like now as we rapidly approach the start of a new season) it’s all I think about. At work, at home, on the golf course and even in my sleep I’m thinking of stand locations, access routes, morning stands vs evening stands, habitat improvements for next year, food plot plans, etc etc etc. It’s a list far too long to lay out here but I’m sure others know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not just the non-hunters that shake their heads at my obsession either. I know several casual hunters (weekend warriors if you will) who are perfectly content to hunt just a handful of days every year. They just can’t understand why I’m already excited about big bucks in early July or why I walk for miles and miles every winter looking for shed antlers. To them hunting is something you prepare for by pulling the gun out of the case and making sure your thermos is full of coffee before walking out the door on November 15th. I don’t judge or look down on anyone who hunts (so long as they are following the laws and regulations of their area of course) and am actually sometimes a bit jealous of those that can take that casual of an approach to the sport and still get a great deal of enjoyment from it. Trust me, when I’m freezing my butt off bow hunting in late December, dragging myself back to the car after a 5 mile shed hunting walk or sweating buckets doing habitat work in late July I am a bit envious of those who take a less involved approach to their hunting. In the end though, once the work is done and the day is at its end, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hunting is in my blood, it’s what drives me and what makes me tick. Being in the woods is what cleanses my soul and recharges my batteries. It’s my way of putting the stresses of the real world behind me and escaping for a bit. There is an unexplainable sense of clarity or peace that I find while hunting and if it takes a year round obsession for me to be able to fully enjoy that feeling than all the work and time put in is more than worth it to me. As we approach the new season I know that there will be up’s and down’s and highs and lows. At times I will lose sight of the overall picture and allow myself to become frustrated with the season. At times I will wonder why I’m heading into the dark hours before daylight or why I’m sitting for hours in bone chilling weather but I also know that during each and every hunt I will have moments where there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be. A moment where everything else fades away and it’s just me and a deer matching wits, a moment where the sun paints the sky in a beautiful blend of red’s, yellow’s and orange’s just for me to see, a moment where the woods come to life around me as the sun I watched disappear the night before makes its entry into a new day. It’s those moments that fuel my soul and drive my obsession. It’s those moments that leave me coming back for more and make me forget all the difficulties and remember only the good times. It's those moments that are etched into my memory and those moments that drive my passion. When people who don’t understand it get done shaking their heads they usually ask me why I do it, why I am so obsessed with it, why I let a 3 month season drives a 12 month obsession. I answer them with the only answer I can think of and the one that sums it all up: I am a hunter. Take care, and thanks for reading.