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In The Woods, Out Hunting With Friends

By Matthew Knoblauch

Hunting friends are peculiar, cut from a similar cloth as yourself in most ways.

They tend to disregard political ideologies, religious beliefs, or financial status.

They care more about subtleties and traditions, crystal waters and autumn woods, or some days just making you feel a particular way after you’ve missed the last four partridges that have gotten up before you.

All in good taste, though. Friends are there to make us feel good and bring comic relief when we need it.

They always ask the right questions, too, like when’s breakfast? Or, where’s the coffee? How could you leave the bourbon at home? Or, are you going to buy that new double gun or what?

These good friends remind us of the important things that tend to get overlooked easily if we’re not careful. Their companionship is there for our taking, and it would be foolish not to take it.

I do not know of a more desirable time than to walk through the woods, flaming in the red, yellow, and oranges of October, in the company of some lighthearted, feel-good friends.

There has not been a time when I coincidentally stumbled upon someone else in the heart of autumn pursuing game and frolicking through beech whips and alder bottoms that I did not come to like.

Our cherished woodlands that harbor our beloved whitetail deer, cattail sloughs with familiar or not-so-familiar sun-beaten duck blinds, or sacred grouse covers with dainty and unnamed brooks and ponds coursing through, are all formal and rather distinguished meetings places for friends, old and new.

I have become elated by the casual inviting of conversations in such places—ranging from dog breeds, beeper collars, and pedigrees to woodcock flights and hare populations affecting Ruffed Grouse numbers. Observations and opinions that are mutually and respectfully listened to in the presence of an October sky.

The kind of talk that is listened to and not just heard.

I find it troublesome to think of the lessening of good people I’d know had I not been somewhere when they came…


The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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