In recent years, I get terribly excited as summer ends. I love summer, the long days, the warm weather, the relaxed, vacation feel the days have. But summer is just an appetizer to the time of year that really excites me. Hunting season.

For me, hunting season starts at the beginning of September and lasts nearly to Christmas. It is four glorious months, not because I love killing things (quite the contrary – I often pass up quite a few shots because I just enjoy seeing the game and want to see it again next year), but because of the anticipation. I love waiting expectantly for game to show up. I love thinking about getting out in the woods later in the day or the next morning. And I love the moment of satisfied anticipation, when all the hoping pays off and just over the crest of the hill comes a deer. It is a fantastic feeling.

I spend quite a bit of my time out in the woods, or out in the swamp waiting or searching for game. Depending on the date, it might be geese or ducks, turkeys or ruffed grouse, or deer and bear. I like hunting them all, and for different reasons. Deer get my heart pumping so that I am thinking I might have a heart attack (I will have to be healthy later in life or give up hunting because I get so excited.). Turkeys are so hard to find so that it is almost like finding gold in the woods. Hunting geese is about having fun trying to 1) lure them in by calling 2) hitting a moving target. I love the strategy part of goose hunting including setting up blinds, spreading decoys, using an easy to blow goose call to lure in the geese, concealment and camouflage. And the hunt is only part of the fun.

But there is a bad thing about hunting. I can’t not hunt. It may be Saturday and I have a lot of work that has to be done or errands to run, but my mind is already out in the woods. I am thinking about the deer walking right past my deer stand while I am sitting at my computer typing. Or maybe I am just positive the turkeys are plucking at the cornstalks in the fields while I have to go to work. It drives me insane. That feeling that I am missing something, compels me outside with my gun or bow every spare moment I have.

This is good in some respects, but not good in others. I have an obsession. And as we know, obsessions can be bad news. So that got me to thinking about desire.

When we have a strong desire to do something, it is hard to resist it. If it is a good desire, that is not such a bad thing. We give in and do that something. But if it is a bad desire or a desire that can be bad if given into too often, then we are in trouble.

For example, let’s say I really want a piece of chocolate cake. Well, I give in to that desire. No problem. If I give in to that desire every day, I will have serious health problems in a short amount of time. Or let’s say I am attracted to my neighbor’s wife. Wow! That is not a desire I want to give in to ever.

So what keeps me from giving into these bad desires? The answer: a stronger desire in an opposing direction. If I desire cake, I have to want to be healthy and trim more than I want to taste that piece of cake. If I am attracted to my neighbor’s wife, I have to want to do the right thing and respect them both more than I want to get to know her more intimately.

I suppose there are two keys. Knowing when a desire is unhealthy. And finding a desire that is stronger than those bad desires. As for hunting, I am not quite sure yet if I want to find a desire that can keep me from the woods.

© Seth Crossman