Sidelined

By , September 18, 2014

The annual Tier II Subsistence Moose Hunt must have started this week.

All the signs are there: On Saturday evening, we startled a nice young bull moose on the roadside on our way home from taking Aly to the ferry. I seem to have developed a custom of sighting bull moose just before the start of the hunt. It’s inevitably my last sighting until well after the hunt ends. Further, we’re socked in with thick fog, and it’s raining—strong evidence that the hunt is underway. If the weather encourages one to linger by the fireside, warm and dry, it must be moose hunting season!

This year, I’m watching the hunt from the sidelines, like a boy who misses the neighborhood baseball game because he has to practice piano. And, just like that little boy, I’m grasping for the situation’s sour grapes, eager to find reasons I’m glad not to be hunting this year. Honest.

I missed the application period for this hunt. It comes shortly after the hunt ends each year. About the time I seek the relief of not thinking about moose hunting, after three weeks of futile slogging through wet autumn woods, I need to turn around and stake a claim for the next year’s hunt. I neglected to do so last autumn, and this year, the hunt goes on without me.

I hate to admit how much better it is that I don’t hunt this year. The opening always falls when we’re harvesting the garden, getting in the last of the wood, fishing, and preparing for the onset of winter in myriad ways. I’m very conscious that each day spent hunting without success takes me away from all those vital projects.

I also have yet to figure out if actually bagging a moose would be a good thing for us. The backbreaking work of securing all that meat before it spoils, particularly without a refrigerator or freezer in which to store it, makes a successful hunt an iffy proposition at best. We do love moose meat, however; we would gladly do whatever it took should the opportunity arise.

Besides, Michelle’s folks will visit next week. Neither of them can make the hike to the land anymore, so we’ll travel to town each day to see them. I also have projects and commitments within the hunting season that I could not attend to at all if I hoped to hunt.

So, maybe not this year. Still, I can’t help but get caught up in the spirit of the season. I enjoy this new tradition of the hunt each year, and long to dress in camo and sneak around in the woods (see Happy Camouflage, Everybody!). Maybe I’ll do that—I can dress for hunting as I head out for mushrooms or firewood if I want. After all, who would see me if I did?

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