The morning air is crisp and cold.
The stalks of corn stubble and hardwood trees along the river bottom stand as stalwarts; motionless and silent. The scene offers a picturesque postcard setting against the slowly lightening predawn sky.
A raucous calamity of crows is off in the distance. Two fox squirrels squabble amid the leaves on the woodland floor along the edge of the cornfield. A dark-eyed junco captures the attention in a tree.
Suddenly, and without sound, an adult white-tailed deer buck emerges. Its curved antlers are vividly apparent.
The hunter, clad in a blaze orange cap and vest, sitting on a folding camp chair in the camouflaged portable ground blind, freezes.
He is hardly breathing. The adrenaline is beginning to flow in his body. He plants his tripod shooting apparatus firmly on the thin carpeted floor of the blind.
He then places the rifle securely on the tripod. The grip on the rifle is tightened. The hunter bears down on the firearm. The shot to be made is a safe one.
He begins to hone in on the buck positioning the crosshairs of the rifle scope squarely behind the front shoulder of the animal.
Slowly he begins to squeeze the trigger. Boom!
This is what hunting is all about — the experience. It is one of, if not the most, essential elements of hunting.
Some think hunting is only about killing a game animal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The taking of that game animal involves only a split second.
Far more time — innumerable hours — will be spent by the hunter surrounded by and observing nature. Not much compares to the beauty, serenity and adventure of being in nature and waiting for game like deer.
For many of us in the Nebraska outdoor community, hunting is an autumn experience that can be compared to the atmosphere of a Husker game day in Memorial Stadium.
Like going to a Nebraska football game in Lincoln, the experience of hunting is about a lot of things.
Sure, it is the ambiance, the feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness. But it is also the tradition, the camaraderie of family and friends and the entire process. It creates memories that a person will carry well into their senior years.
It’s also about understanding the importance of good habitat, biodiversity (that all living things are interconnected) and the role we play in the natural cycle of life, death and wildlife management.
The hunting experience is truly a celebration of America’s freedom and the North American Model of Conservation.
The hunting experience allows for one to fully escape the concrete jungle, the hustle and bustle of everyday life filled with modern technological devices.
The challenge of the hunting experience is one that is unmatched.
There are factors such as ever-changing weather and climatic conditions coupled with the attempt to draw a wild game animal such as a deer close enough for a shot on its home turf. The odds are not in the hunter’s favor.
So harvesting a free-ranging, healthy wild game animal for the dinner table is purely a bonus for which we, as hunters, are extremely grateful!