Looking forward to hunting season

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We all live by the seasons, and the more connected one is to the land, the stronger this plays a part in day to day life. Having grown up with a group of outdoor-minded boys, my hubby taught me a whole ‘nother way of looking at this.

Doug, his brothers and a couple of boy cousins staked their lives around the seasons: rabbit season, raccoon season, duck season and deer season.

When they weren’t hunting, they found joy in sighting in their guns in order to be the surest shot in the neighborhood. They took great pride in dead-on target shots, not only just for bragging rights, but for ammunition efficiency.

Anticipation builds

The first time I went out coon hunting, it was as a newlywed who wanted to know more about the excitement in the sport. I was married to a man who counted down the days to the opening day of season like a kid anticipating Christmas.

It was all new to me. My family did not include hunters, and I had never once seen a gun in my dad’s hands. The only shotgun I remembered was high on a wall, out of reach. If my father ever used it, I was never aware of it.

Doug said his father-in-law owned some of the very best hunting ground for miles around, often hinting with a sly grin that this was the only reason he proposed to me many moons ago. I love to hear the stories of the band of brothers who set off early in the morning with eager anticipation of a day-long, happy hunt.

Respect for guns

They were taught well to respect the power they carried, and if there was ever any sign of a breath of foolhardiness, they each knew they would be in such big trouble they didn’t even want to contemplate it.

On a day when the rabbits weren’t running, black birds or pigeons might meet up with the dead aim of these sure shooters. I’ve heard the story of the day the boys shot out the lightning rods atop their grandfather’s barn.

Lesson learned

That was the day each of those boys learned a lesson in repayment, along with a healthy dose of discipline to be sure it never happened a second time.

“Oh, yeah, it hurt to sit down to supper that night,” my hubby says in recalling the well-deserved punishment. I see a camaraderie in this group that is absent in many others. It is admirable and it is solid.

These guys share so many experiences, both fun and challenging, that shaped the men they became. They learned reasoning skills, teamwork, precision, a sense of right and wrong, wise use of time, not to mention a brotherhood that is impossible to come by in a classroom or inside the walls of a building.

Their stories are earned and well ingrained in a way that defies description, translating to an understanding of one another without words being necessary. For everything there is a season.

These words ring true in every story shared, some prompted with a single word, as the boyhood crew nears retirement age, still in it together.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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