Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
Summer’s heat won’t let up despite fall being just around the corner.
Saturday morning’s air was thick and muggy, you could feel the rain on the horizon. The wait wasn’t long as it poured down on the last 3-D archery shoot of the year for the Indiana Traditional Bowhunters. My pals and I had just taken to the course and managed to get in a handful of targets before getting soaked. The heavy rain forced us out of the woods and off the range, but it didn’t dampen our spirits as we headed into the clubhouse for lunch.
With all the preparation and anticipation of the upcoming archery season, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the excitement that only a bowhunter knows. I think ahead to the many hours I’ll spend on stand watching, listening and waiting. To the time when I’ll once again be part of the natural world and take my place as a predator. I think about the solitude and the hundreds of thoughts that will cross my mind as I sit hidden in the woods. The quietness, the almost aloneness of it all. I think about the “oneness” with nature and how much I enjoy that aspect of deer hunting…The challenge of matching my limited skills and wits against a whitetail deer.
But, with opening day coming close, there’s a certain amount of melancholy. Since last January, I’ve attended several of these 3-D shoots with my friends. Each month our small group meets at the Scott County Conservation Club to sling some arrows, trade a few jabs, solve some world problems and share a few laughs. During the next few months, we’ll all go our separate ways and head to the woods for our individual adventure. Some of us will still keep up with each other, but for the most part, my friends and I lose touch for a while. I’m not overly emotional, but I’ll admit that I’ll miss my friends during hunting season as we’re scattered across a couple of states.
I’m not one for large groups and I tend to keep my circle of friends tight. I know a lot of folks and consider many of them to be friends, but my closest all share the same passion that I do for bow hunting. We’re drawn together by that common interest and a few of them have become as close as family to me.
That is the great thing about having a shared hobby or pastime. It can be the foundation for lifelong friendships, the kind of relationships that last. When I first became interested in traditional bowhunting 25 years ago, I had no clue of the lasting friendships that it would develop and the opportunities it would create. As much as I enjoy hunting, I believe that I enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with it even more.
So, to all my bowhunting friends out there that follow Along the Trail, know that you’ll cross my mind a few times in October and November and I hope everyone has a safe and successful season.