By Dr. Allan Houston

    Hunting is largely a string of anticipations all sitting atop a loosely corked bottle of adrenalin. We fuss, fiddle, and fume to get ready. We arrive and we wait. And then we do it all over again, and for what?

    We hunters, dressed to the nines in camouflage, the required orange, while also splattered with doe pee, are like anxious freshmen sitting in front of the sorority waiting for the gorgeous girl to suddenly appear, flow down the steps, and with a dazzling smile, actually open the door to our car. Or for the gals, and I’m venturing into dangerous territory, you peek out the curtains every now and again and, suddenly, there, sitting in the car is the dangerously handsome guy with both door and wallet wide open—and with no doe pee sprinkled around.

    So, why do we park our cars or part the curtains? Why do we place ourselves under the strain of such a lovely anticipation when so often we are frustrated? Is it because a well-groomed imagination is its own handsome payoff?

    I think so.

    We plan and sit and wait because, long before Disney thought about it, we were the oldest practitioners of the art of Imagineering.

    And, is it because the ride atop the cork is so exhilarating?

    Yes, absolutely.

    A favorite deer stand. It caught my eye in the moment. The picture will again many years from now. And memories will bubble to the surface.

    The very best rides make us wait in a long and patient line beforehand, something to slow us down and build up a savoring for the experience.

    Every hunting season is rich with squirrels, scarlet skies, crow calls and silent deer. Friends. A special place. Another man’s story. And, it is rich with the best your imagination can conjure.

    But, with each advancing decade I discover what seems to be a hole in my pocketful of memories. This is not the forgetfulness of age, it is the absolute, ironclad inevitability of being unable to remember it all. And it happens just like that! You look up and some fine something that once upon a time happened is now 30 years ago.

    When I was young, I thought forgetting something wonderful was not possible. But, we live in and move beyond so many wonderful moments, a great caravan of tremendous memories left behind like treasures from a long-ago wagon train, and maybe the very one we traveled with.

    I have many of mine recorded in snippets of little written stories; and if I had it all over to do again I would diary as much as possible and build scrapbooks of pictures with captions to re-tell the tales I already knew and did not know I had forgotten.

    So, in the moment’s passing, between the end of deer season and the anticipation of turkey season, I expect the best possible way to get ready is to not only check our equipment and search every nook and cranny for ammo, but also to make a decision to record the best of times. Most of us carry our phones with us to take a picture of what we haul in. But, with the apt nature of you being the best judge of what moves you most, take that picture as well.

    This is often the simplest of things. I have one photo from a favorite stand, a gorgeous view that takes me back to that place. And its fine ol’ times every time I see it. I caught the picture in a moment of its glory and that is how I will remember that stand.

    Another picture is of my boyhood’s wheels, a 1952 jeep. It is in its natural habitat. Stuck. I would not trade that picture for the Mona Lisa. (Although, I haven’t got much use for the Mona Lisa, except to peddle her off for a new truck.)

    In every man’s life there comes a time when the temperatures begin to sink, the snow clouds threaten and the tree that fuels the fire popped out of an acorn in the same year he was born. If he has his own stories in his lap, he will be thankful to the young man who makes his Imagineering so vivid now, that he feels almost as if that young fellow was inviting him and making room for him, in that place and time. Trust me, you will want to shake that young man’s hand.

    We stand in line a long time to have such a chance. Give yourself a very good gift. Give yourself your very best memories. Preserve them with a certain kind of purpose.

    Things To Consider When Preserving Outdoor Memories

    Preserving memories now is an investment that always offers big returns in the future. Take time and care to record your trips outdoors. Here are a few tips offered by the author:

    • Pictures are one good ticket, but they need a caption. Write or record it soon. A blunt pencil is better than a sharp memory.
    • With a phone almost always in our pockets use it. Or, get a small camera and keep it within easy reach. One of my favorite pictures is from the stand with a deer I’d just shot laying with her head under a pile of brush. And me, not wanting to climb down, wondering if perhaps I had misjudged and shot a spike. It was a doe.
    • Don’t limit yourself to pictures of the “kill.” A hunt, a place, a time, and friends or family, these are likewise special.
    • Capture what moves you. Capture something that reminds you why you hunt.
    • Be alert. Stop and take the picture. Don’t put off today what you can’t photograph tomorrow.
    • Write it down. Do this for your grand-or-great-grandchildren. It will help keep traditions alive.