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Sunday, October 24, 2010

JJ: All Falls

I took Zena for a sunset walk in Woodland Park last evening.  It made me nostalgic.

The water and the leaves on the ground and the ducks in the twilight brought back a lot of memories of my late teen years in Lower Valley. I spent many hours traipsing with a dog and a gun along the banks of the creek and ponds and sloughs there when I was young. Golden hours.

There was a quiet magic in the air then, with the muted colors and sounds as the day turned into darkness, that peaceful time when the creatures of daylight turned the land over to the night prowlers. There was suspense, never knowing what the next bend in the trail would show. It seemed like smells and sounds were sharper then. I felt more alive then.

I miss the valley I grew up in. It is lost in the shadows of the past.

Oh, the trees and wildlife and waters are still there, but the nature of the valley has changed. It is civilized now. There are far fewer places for the hunter to really enjoy a solitary craft and the attitude of the people has changed. "No Hunting" and "No Trespassing" signs are on nearly every fence that I was free to crawl through back when I was young.

Fields that used to be stubble are filled with neat yards and modern homes and fences. Woods I used to stalk through are gone, replaced by housing developments.

For the first time in my life, I did not buy a hunting license this year when I could have.

I guess I am getting old. There are too many closed roads, too many ignorant hunters, too many 4x4 drivers who have no business being off of the pavement, too little game. There is too little enjoyment for me.

I can't hike back into the back country like I used to, and almost every time I venture into the woods towards a favorite spot I find that the USFS, in its infinite wisdom, has gated off the only access. Every year my choices are more limited.

And I am tired of being forced into the ditch by folks in their new SUVs who are afraid to pull over because they might scratch it, or kids who figure it is everyone else's duty to get out of their way. Neither of which, by the way, stop to help you get back out of the ditch they ran you into.

And there is not as much game right now, between habitat loss and weather and wolves and F&W mismanagement. I hate to deplete the population even more.

I will miss hunting this fall, but yet I am content with my decision. Yeah, I guess I'm old now. I am a misfit in this modern world.


"Memento mori"