By Ben Gruber
A successful hunt often culminates in an odd mixture of emotions. Whether it is while approaching a deer laying in a bed of golden yellow and red maple leaves or when a dog retrieves a plump mallard with a shiny green head, excitement is there alongside reverence for the creature and nature itself as well as a small amount of sadness and gratitude. There is sadness for the life taken, reverence for nature, and gratitude for the challenge as well as the meal that will soon grace the table. I feel the same mixture of emotions today as I write my final column for the readers of Hub City Times.
The nature of printed press is shifting rapidly, and changes must be made. Along with that, I have found it increasingly difficult to meet the weekly deadline. Honestly, there is actually a feeling of relief that I will now have more time to put into Kids and Mentors Outdoors, all of the things that need attention at Bear Creek Ranch, and adventures with the family and my new hunting dog Belle.
I am thankful for the readers who have enjoyed sharing my adventures and reading my sometimes rambling stories. Thank you to our editor Kris Leonhardt, Adam Hocking before her, and Eric LeJeune for giving an outdoors column a chance in our local paper. I did my best to create a medley of sharing adventures, advice for local outings, and pieces to encourage the conservation of our natural resources.
Thank you to those that reached out to me with your feedback. While I may not have responded to every one of you, I did read or listen to them all.
I would like to part with a few thoughts:
The biggest change I have seen happen to the hunting community in my years is a zeal for consumption. Remember that hunting should be about the experience. Take the time to have reverence for the beauty of the emerald green hue of the mallard’s head as his wings whistle overhead in the predawn light. Respect the majesty of the old whitetail buck as steam drifts from his nostrils as he wets them with his tongue, surveying the clearing from inside the safety of the woods’ edge. Take experiences from the woods, not just trophies.
When you leave the woods or the water, take with you one more piece of garbage than you took in. Respect the space of others, the other hunter as well as the nature walker and the bird watcher. Broaden your horizons as an outdoor person. Try small game hunting or fishing or bird watching.
If you have never hunted, consider giving it a try. The challenge and eventual satisfaction of providing some of nature’s cleanest food for your family table is second to none.
If you are a landowner, contemplate what you can do for conservation habitat.
For those of you who find yourself perpetually complaining about the state of our game numbers or the DNR’s handling of this or that, perhaps take a look at what you can do to make things better. The resources are ours collectively to manage.
Most importantly, teach children about nature. Better yet, get them in it, and let them get dirty. Let them catch ugly bugs, play with frogs, catch fish, and collect night crawlers for fishing on a rainy night. Chastise them for muddy boots in the house, but at the same time take satisfaction in knowing that they still know where to find mud. We, me included, spend a lot of time pontificating on the habits of today’s youth, often overlooking our own responsibilities in directing them down the formative paths that they choose.
With that being said, thanks for reading. Now get outdoors, and enjoy some nature.