The Outdoor Narrative: Learning keeps hunting, fishing seasons fresh

Every new season I inevitably stumble across something new, interesting and worthwhile. I can’t conceive the day I will feel I know it all.

Here we are, nearing the end of another outdoors season.

Yes, there are still three or so weeks of hunting season on the calendar, but experience tells me the last few weeks are always harder as deer become more secretive as the rut ends.

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As well, the lakes are freezing and the river will be fast behind, making fly-fishing pretty much impossible.

It’s all natural, part of the cycles of nature, but I confess to being a bit melancholy as it happens.

I always am.

Some of you will no doubt think I’m premature in my proclamation — there is ice fishing, of course, and a handful of late-season archery opportunities that can be pursued — but despite those, the facts are what they are.

This year’s hunting and fishing, for the most part, is in its dying days.

I had a great season. I killed a deer with my bow this year, the first time I’ve done such a thing.

I helped friends drag out their animals and took part in a bunch of excursions for whitetail deer.

robert koopmans column head

I had some awesome river fishing, some fun days on lakes, a couple of cool days chasing geese and an incredible spring pursuing bears. I had a few close calls as I chased after bears with arrows, and even though I was unsuccessful on that front, the adrenaline-filed moments taught me a great deal.

So, I have no regrets as the end of 2020 sneaks up. Besides, it’s good to have a down season as well.

December to February is the time I consider my off-season, a time to recharge and reflect and make new plans for the next year ahead. And strange as it may seem, I’ve already started to think ahead to next year.

Looming ahead on the very distant horizon is another fishing season, to be followed by another hunting season. It will be about the 30th time I’ve faced this cycle in B.C., the 30th time I’ve pondered the end of one season and the next one ahead.

I’m already looking forward to it all.

Sometimes I’m asked how it is I don’t bore with these activities. How is it I can keep at it year after year? Doesn’t fishing reach the point where it’s just plain boring?

And how many deer hunts does it take before the worth of an extra two hours sleep outweighs the benefits to be found going afield?

I don’t have answers to such questions and I hope I never do.

The fact is, though, there are days when fishing is boring. Usually about late July and August, the slow days come. Anglers sometimes spend a lot of time sitting then, broiling in the sun. The days are often wickedly hot and calm, with the only sign of action on the water the sight of insects skittering across the surface.

I had few of those days last year on local lakes. Similarly, I had a number of days when I wondered if I would ever see another buck or a grouse or a goose or a rabbit.

Regardless, I don’t mind the slow days. Even on the boring days, there is value in being out there. Sometimes it’s nice to sit in a boat on a lake and not be bothered by trout.

It’s quiet and peaceful then, a powerful antidote to the stresses of domesticated living. And, as long as I’ve got a line in the water, there’s hope fish will find it, making a day in the boat always more productive than a day lounging in a comfy chair in the backyard.

Hunting is the same, sort of.

I always love being in the bush in the early morning, although I’ve noticed the process of getting there has increased in difficulty over the years.

Hunting requires more effort, more preparation than fishing. It’s become harder to find the time to hunt and I know I don’t get out as much as I used to. Thankfully, the more you hunt, the less time you need to spend doing it. Once you spend several seasons chasing mule deer, it gets easier to predict where to find them at given times.

Finding huntable moose is another question; I’m still looking for the answers to that mystery.

And my pursuit of whitetail deer this year opened up an entirely new realm to show me how little I still know about so many aspects of the natural world around me.

Which brings me to one of the main reasons fishing and hunting never get boring, even with the passing of season upon season — there is always something new.

Every new season I inevitably stumble across something new, interesting and worthwhile. I can’t conceive the day I will feel I know it all.

Fishing and hunting are more than activities — they are ways of life. They define a way of thinking and those who are engrossed measure all aspects of their lives against a calendar that changes with the weather or phases of the moon or other natural phenomenon not measured by dates and numbers.

So, I’ll soon pack away the implements of my sports for a few months and start the process of planning for 2021.

As long as I have a next season ahead of me with new things to pursue, learn and get better at, I can’t imagine become weary of fishing or hunting.

Robert Koopmans is an avid angler and hunter who spends as much time as possible in B.C.’s wild places. He also hosts the Hunting & Fishing British Columbia podcast (find it on Apple Podcasts). To share a thought, send an email to info@theoutdoornarrative.com.

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