A New Year’s Drabble, At The End Of A Long Season
January 3, 2017
There is something about sitting in a deer stand in the pouring rain, waiting for sunrise, secure and dry in good, waterproof gear.
The rain dampens and drowns all other sounds, dripping from the limbs overhead and plopping dully into the sodden duff. A cardinal call peals from the brambles, and the song seems oddly piercing. But it is just as suddenly muted, soaked up into soggy air. Geese gabbling on the pond sound like they’re miles away, but I can see them in the dim light paddling, only yards from my perch.
Misty rain makes shadows that swim at the edges of the light. It is the tricky time, as night and day wrestle for command. Hyper-alert, my senses struggle to adjust. Familiar forms are alien, morphing, shifting shades. Is that a bush or a bobcat, branch or antler?
My rifle rests on the shooting rail. My face is freckled with chilly sprinkles. Perfect droplets run off my hat brim and drizzle into my lap. I breathe breaths of clean, wet air. Wrapped in warmth, I take it all in until I’m filled with something that I can’t define.
The wind blows and the rain comes down, and nothing moves but little birds and bushes.
I’m not ready for another year, but, to be honest, I wasn’t ready for the last one.
Or the one before that.
In fact, it seems to be a recurring theme as time goes by and I get older and an hour seems to get progressively shorter… dropping a few seconds at a time until weeks feel like days. Maybe it’s true that there is such a thing as a “hill”, and once you’re over it, you begin a steady, downwind run. Driven before the wind, it’s easy to forget how strong it’s blowing and things just go rushing by. You can find yourself off course before you know it, with no easy way to correct.
That’s sort of how it’s felt, anyway. I used to sort of like living at the edge of control, but I’m older now. To keep to the nautical metaphor, I feel like I need to throw over the sea anchor or even luff the sails for a bit and let the wind out of them. Maybe this year will be the year that I can do that. I don’t know.
What’s it all mean for the Hog Blog?
I don’t know that either. January usually means SHOT Show. I’ve got my credentials for the show, but it’s very doubtful I’ll make the trip this year. I think I mentioned the last time that I’m just not getting much out of the show any more. Based on press releases and media invitations I’ve seen so far, the emphasis on “tactical” has doubled down this year. I’m not sure what else they can put picatinny rails or digital camo on, but I’m just not interested in ARs, super-duper-long-range-automated-rangefinding-sniper-rifles, or other pseudo-combat gear, tailored for the civilian market. Here’s my Man Card, if you want it.
On top of that, I’m not feeling much incentive to write frequently, which leads to reduced readership, which results in less interest from manufacturers or vendors to send me stuff to review… and if all they offer is tactical, I don’t really want to review it anyway. It’s also true that active readership is pretty much down all across the blogosphere. Facebook and Twitter have shortened attention spans, so if you don’t have fresh content every five or six minutes, you’re passe. I know a few folks are still making a go of the blogs, but they are getting paid for it (or paying someone to do it for them). I’m neither. My biggest thrill from writing this blog was the participation of readers. You just don’t see that any more, and I’m a little hoarse from yelling into the desert (vox clamantis, and all that).
Any of you who have been around for a while (and thanks, by the way) have probably noticed that I haven’t done much (any) hog hunting in a couple of years. While I’m still working on that, the reality is that if I want to hunt hogs, it’s going to be a pay-to-play thing here in NC. It’s honestly a mystery to me why hogs haven’t spread as widely here as they have in other states, but they haven’t. I’ve heard of some good places, but it’s private land, and opportunities carry a price tag. Public land hog hunting, as anywhere else, is either really poor or a carefully guarded secret. So hog hunting content here will be taking a back seat to other hunting and fishing… or, to be honest, no content at all.
Sometimes, I enjoy writing for the sake of writing, so I’ll probably keep doing it from time to time. I still follow the issues and topics that I find interesting, including lead ammunition discussions (still fairly active), and, of course, wild hogs. I suppose I’ll share the occasional news piece, if it really strikes me as relevant or important. I do think that, with the new administration in the White House and Congress, for better or worse, the lead ammo issue will die a quiet (if ephemeral) death… at least on the federal level. But we’ll see. Some states are still bouncing it around.
So, I’m not quite ready to call the Hog Blog dead, but I don’t think 2017 will signal a grand renaissance either.