December 26, 2009 will be my three year anniversary to hunting-three years ago is when my husband, Richard, created this monster. And if I sit quietly I can still hear the ringing in my ears, smell the fresh gun powder, feel the shudder that ran through my body from recoil, hear the excitement in Richard’s voice when he said “GOOD shot”. For this day was not only the very first day I went hunting, the very first day I shot a rifle, the very first day I harvested a buck…it was the very first day of the rest of my life as I now know it.

Nothing in my wildest dreams could ever compare to what I have experienced in the last three years. Being an avid competitive equestrian for 20 years had me accustomed to being up predawn but what it never allowed me to experience was the day waking up. Nowhere can you experience that to its fullest except for at the base of a tree on a dew laden morning listening for that distant gobble from that prize tom. Or fifteen to twenty feet up a tree in a climbing stand with the mist from the dew settling on your jacket sleeve or even in a ground blind tucked away as the dew rises in the blind and the fresh earth permeates your senses.

There is something almost indescribable that occurs just as the sun breaks the horizon and I have felt it many times. The only way I can describe it is as if the earth cracks and a crisp coldness rises up from the ground and chills you to the core of your being only for a brief time and leaves you as discretely as it crept in. Next comes the slow monotonous sound of the birds starting their morning serenade. Before you know it, the morning is almost deafening with noise. Finding this different from region to region, in Alabama, if you listen closely to the birds, bugs and small critters, you will find they demand your attention.

Not only have I witnessed life waking up, I have witnessed life ending. I have watched as a turkey has made that final flop, deer have made that final kick and drew its last breath–all not in vain. I thank the heavens above for every harvest and thank the good Lord for providing for me; for it was God who placed all creatures, large and small, upon this earth to nourish our bodies. From this, I have learned not to waste and to be ethical and humane in my skills for harvesting game.

I sadden at the stories and sight of unethical hunters and I infuriate easily at those with disrespect for game laws. For this I am thankful that I know right from wrong. I am thankful for my health and the never ending inquisitive nature that I have that keep me yearning to learn more and experience all that I can. I am proud that I can be independent and also have the ability to find the answers I am looking for so I can better myself on every journey. This I have mastered by my experiences in the field through trial, error, hardship and elation.

I have witnessed a personal growth in myself that I never would have fathomed possible. I have achieved things that I never imagined attainable for myself. I have stretched my imagination to the fullest and my sanity to the brink of uncertainty. I have questioned my doubts and doubted my fears. I wake up everyday with a goal to try to challenge my fears and tax my knowledge knowing this is my perfect plan for growth. The sport of hunting does this for me daily even if I don’t get the opportunity to actually be in the woods. For these opportunities I am grateful and for the mentoring and confidence extended to me by Richard, I am forever indebted. I am appreciative of the understanding from my family, friends, co-workers and employer of the time stolen for my numerous endeavors and their relentless ears for listening to my seemingly endless hunting tales.

Yes, three years ago, a simple afternoon excursion was the wind that set the sail on this journey, where I may dock briefly will always be a mystery until I get there, but where I eventually set my final destination and pull my sails from the mast and secure them to the deck…you can rest assured that I will have wonderful and exciting memories to last until my final hour of the abundant experiences I have foregone on this journey.

© Nancy Jo Adams 2009