Experience the ceremonial time of awakening in the outdoors

Published 10:21 am Thursday, December 22, 2016

By Daniel Leathers

There is a time that many people miss each day. It is a time that is experienced by few and then generally only the outdoors man and woman. It is a time that is easily overlooked. It is a time that is felt in the soul more than acknowledged through the flesh.

Recently, I was sitting in the woods deer hunting. I, like many hunters, prefer to reach my blind or stand well before sunrise to allow nature to settle back into her regular routine. This is when the observant and connected person can experience the sacred time of awakening.

The birds begin to sing and the incessant squirrels begin leaping and frolicking. It is at this time that the first glimpse of that deer slowly making it’s way through the trees emerges from the mist. This is the time of day that is difficult to describe, but is the reason we rise before the dawn and venture into the cold.

People often ask, “Why do you hunt, hike, camp, kayak, etc?” This is the reason. The ceremonial time that we experience deep within ourselves. Whether sitting in a tree stand, ground blind or atop a rock outcropping next to your campsite, it’s a time of renewal. A promise fulfilled.

There are other ceremonial times as well. Your first wild game harvest; your first fish; your first hike completed. It may be the first time your took your son or daughter out to introduce them to the glories of nature. Whatever it is, it is a connection with our past. We become part of the human experience.

So far, there have been over 125,000 deer harvested this year in Kentucky; just over 2,300 turkey taken this fall; scores of fish caught and hundreds of miles hiked or paddled.  Many tales have been told around campfires and gallons of early morning coffee have been used to warm the soul.

As we do these things, if we look closely in the evening or at early light, we can see the smoke rising from the fires of the longhunter camp or the Shawnee and Cherokee hunting parties. If we open our eyes, we can almost make out the faint forms of bison as they lumber through the forest. 

This is ceremonial time. It is a time of connection across the eons. It is what makes us hunters, fishermen, outdoors men and women. No matter our reasons for doing these outdoor activities, we share a common bond. 

Though there are many that would try to put a wedge between the various segments of our brotherhood and sisterhood, we are connected and share a love of nature. We share a common value. We all experience ceremonial times.

Why do I talk of these things? The answer is simple. As people who love nature and our rights as outdoorsmen, we need to ensure that we continue to work together. It is our duty to know what is going on in the legislature and Congress that will help or harm our shared experiences. 

We must not be splintered by those who wish to break us apart, but instead be united for the common good of our love of nature and the wish to preserve ceremonial time for future generations. Become knowledgeable about bills being presented and do your best to understand the full impact of these purposed bills. It is our responsibility to ensure our freedoms are maintained. 

As always remember, no matter how you choose to spend your time this season, don’t leave the outdoors out.  Make it a part of every season.  
Daniel Leathers is a veteran of the US Army Special Operations Command and recognized authority in outdoor skills instruction, firearms, and etc.  He is a devoted advocate for conservation, avid outdoorsman and co-founder of Longhunter Outfitters.  He is also co-host of the radio show Hunt-Fish-Shoot Kentucky. You can contact Daniel at daniel@longhuntertoutfitters.com.