More to hunting than hunting

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I’ve only heard it within the fly-fishing context, but I bet you can make up a hunting version: when you embark on your journey, you want to catch something, anything, no matter its size. As you progress, you want to catch a lot of fish. Then, your grail is big fish. Ultimately, though, you reach angler’s Nirvana and don’t need to catch any fish.
 
I won’t deny it. I love a full game bag and watching a dog suss out new bird covers. When he skids into a rock-hard point and stands trembling, my heart races. If there was a twelve-step program for adrenaline junkies, I’d join it.
 
But I’ve learned that there is so much more to a hunting trip. Can we better savor the memories of an outing if we stop and smell the (wild) roses? And pine? And juniper? Here are some ways to “add value” to your hunt:
 
- Look up and down, and appreciate the fall colors, tree-dwelling critters and those mystifying pawprints in the dust
 
- Carry a Zip-Loc bag for serendipitous discoveries of berries or mushrooms
 
- Brew a cup of tea at noon just so you have a reason to stop and breath deep
 
- Bring a non-hunting friend along
 
- Spend gas and grocery money near your destination
 
- Attend the local “hunter’s breakfast”
 
- Donate to the local PTA, Boy Scout troop or bake sale
 
- Visit the government biologist during the off-season
 
- Study the area’s history
 
- Carry enough coffee (jerky, candy bars) for anybody you meet in the field
 
With these extras you will never want for a full game vest …