Daniel Leathers

Ceremonial Time: The Tie That Binds Outdoorsmen

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

Image courtesy Longhunter Outfitters

Last fall, I was sitting in the woods deer hunting. Like many hunters, I 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.

Image courtesy Daniel Leathers

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 its way through the trees emerges from the mist. This is the time of day that is difficult to describe, but it's the reason we rise before the dawn and venture into the cold.

Image courtesy Shane Patterson via Longhunter Outfitters

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.

Image courtesy Daniel Leathers

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.

In the 2016-17 season there were over 125,000 deer harvested in Kentucky (my home state); just over 33,000 turkey taken this Spring; 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.

Image courtesy Longhunter Outfitters

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 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.

Image courtesy Daniel Leathers

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.

Image courtesy Daniel Leathers

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.