My passion trumps my skill.  As a rule.

I spent a lot of time proving that during the past year. It was indeed the best of times and the worst.   But with failure comes lessons and I learned a plenty.  I learned things about myself I hadn’t known.   I learned that I may have a very small brain.  I am unnaturally stubborn and I am indeed a dangerously slow learner.

I spent more time in the field in 2008 than any ten men should have. It got so bad I started calling it the office in hopes that I could convince my girlfriend that I was ‘working’.

I put thousands of hard miles on a brave old compact whose only rewards were mud bogs, caked on grime, ice storms, hail storms, storms of the century, snow squalls, over-loadings and quagmires.  Thank you my four-wheeled friend and silent partner.  I am sorry for not filling your trunk with more dead things.  I owe you a tune-up.

I made it a point to only hunt when it rained or sleeted or the wind was wrong or blowing a gale.  I hunted where the birds were last year, yesterday, tomorrow but never now.   I fished fishless waters.  I fished waters with lots of fish the wrong way with the wrong fly with the wrong weight.  I matched the hatch but crashed the pool with my Central Park-bourne double haul-special.  I fished with worms and a bobber.  I fished with worms and a bobber.  Yes, I did it. I fished with worms and a bobber.

I hunted when the moon was wrong.  I hunted when the moon was right but the barometer was wrong.  I hunted when the moon and the barometer were right but the rut was over.  I hunted the pre rut.  I hunted the pre pre rut.  I hunted the rut.  I hunted the post rut.  I hunted on farms and in the woods.  I hunted when and where no other hunter would.  I hunted on the ground and from a stand.  I do not like green eggs and ham.

After this year I don’t even have the imagination to dream about big deer.  The deer I hunt in my dreams now are six pointers, ugly sevens, does, and small eights.  A ten sometimes comes wandering bye but only if I eat tacos or chili before bed.  This year was so frustrating that I’ve even had deer-less deer dreams.

I learned that I’m not bad at everything.  I do have a particular knack for getting lost.  And man did I ever get lost.  I got lost on a ten-acre plot surrounded by cornfields…on all four sides.    I got lost 100 yards from camp.  I got lost 10 miles up in the hills.  I got lost chasing deer, birds, rabbits, fox, fish and shadows.  I got lost backtracking.  I got lost when the GPS had full battery and satellite.  I got lost on lakes and land.  I even managed to get a little lost on the Appalachian Trail.  Yeah, I said it.  I got a little lost on the Appalachian Trail.

I hunted over dogs with three legs.  I hunted over dogs with four legs that just didn’t hunt no more. I hunted over world-class dogs and blew shots.  I hunted tiny little birds with a turkey choke. I hunted turkey that flew like eagles.  I hunted with a shotgun I could barely lift.  In the end, I figure I saved the lives of many upland wing-ed things.  You are all quite welcome.

I also slept a lot.  I slept in turkey blinds and tree stands.  I slept in snowdrifts.  I slept in emergency shelters.  I slept 20 miles from a road.  I slept on the side of the road.  I slept by the fire.  I slept too close to the fire and burned off a boot.

But like I said at the outset of this tongue-in-cheek, year-end celebration rant I’m either a very stubborn man or a painfully slow learner.   So I’ll be out there till February soaked in three different kinds of deer pee, crashing antlers, making mock scrapes, writing long wordy sentences, hunting rub lines, fence lines, full moons, new moons, old moons, food plots, tracking big bucks through the snow, tracking does to bedding areas, setting up over watering holes, belly crawling through swamps where the monsters hide and getting lost.Until the spring thaw fills the streams and the first gobble sounds in the big woods and the leaves change and the felt is off the antlers I’ll be dreaming with you about everything that will be good and right about 2009.

Happy New Year Hunting Life.

Written with Skill by Ryan Connolly!!!