The air is growing colder, the sky is growing greyer and the change of the season is something that can be felt all around, like the coming of rain. Something that has always marked the change of the year to me has been the beginning of deer season. As a child I remember my father, grandfathers and uncles going off to hunt. It always signaled the start of the holiday season to me back then, shortly after opening day came Thanksgiving, then Christmas and the New Year. Then snow was something looked forward to.
When I was old enough to hunt it was back when my grandfathers were alive. Opening day was a ceremonial event, remembered for the gathering of my father, my grandfather, my uncles, my friends and their brothers and fathers. For a while even my sister participated. Opening day was a valid excuse to be absent from school in my hometown. The hunting was enjoyable, but the real memories were in the gathering around the thermos cups of coffee and telling tales of the big ones that got away, the hunts of years gone bye and the family legends and tales that we all have.
As the years have gone by, the grandfathers have passed away and the friends have moved away or moved along. For a number of years it was just my father and I. Now, after his bypass, I have gone out to the woods only a handful of times. While I am blessed with three beautiful daughters, none of them are interested in getting up in the early morning hours and braving the weather and the cold to walk the woods. Last year my partner decided to pick up the shotgun again and we went out a for few days and plan on going again this year. While it is still enjoyable and my partner has become a good friend, in some ways deer season has changed from being a ceremony of community and continuing tradition, to a symbol of the changing of human life.