Nature's Booster Shot


This old stand has produced a lot of deer and memories.
How many thoughts and problems were solved over the years by all who hunted it would fill volumes?

Fall is full of thought for me. It always has been. As a youngster, fall meant the start of football season. Growing older, football was replaced by hunting as my favorite fall activity, becoming my solace after entering the work field. Nothing’s better than sitting in the woods, mountains or farm fields waiting for a buck to arrive. During long lulls, my mind would wander…

Eventually, you realize going huntin’ is synonymous with gone thinkin’, only now you have a legitimate excuse for being away from phones, computers and life’s other distractions. While absorbing natures beauty, you make a transformation, becoming an active participant in the food chain.

Every leaf flicker, brush sway, or suspicious shadow demands a closer look as you are now in full predator mode. You scrutinize every sound or sign of movement. These telltale signs cause small jolts of adrenaline to be released, preparing your body to respond. This sequence is as old as mankind and necessary for survival, as we need protein to survive.

Heightened State

This heightened state is why we hunt. It’s medication in its highest form. It can be downright exhausting, yet invigorating, being in this high state of preparedness. Your eyes continually scan for movement without moving your head, but your subconscious eventually wins out, starting to solve any problems you may be experiencing now. After several days, you realize most problems are menial in the big scheme of life, as the worries ebb from your mind. This is one of the bonuses hunting provides.

A fire in the Kalahari Desert for a “braai” or cookout from centuries old camel thorn wood.

Tick Tock

Time takes on a new meaning while hunting. Traditional dates and times no longer exist. Now, days are referred by events like when you got the big 10- pointer, or the day the truck broke down on the way out, or the time Joe got lost and we spent half the night looking for him. Either way, these adventures replace typical weekdays and are a welcome change from the boring monotony experienced at work.

The stories are filed away for easy retrieval whenever your need for escape presents itself. While sitting at our desks, feigning work, we’re in fact reliving our special moments, and no one is the wiser. It’s only when a wry smile crosses our lips, or a chuckle escapes, that people wonder “what is it” we’re really thinking about? It sure isn’t work! Memories are the moments no one can take away from us. They’re ours to keep and cherish.

With coals glowing, the “braai” is almost ready.
Of course, a proper “sundowner” is also a prerequisite to enjoy a good fire.


Besides escaping through our field adventures, fire also provides magical traits. Don’t believe me? Build yourself a fire on a cool evening and wait for the people to arrive. Drawn like moths to a back porch light, they’ll come. If it was solace you were seeking, you screwed up, fires are made for sharing.

When man first discovered fire, it changed our whole way of life. Besides providing heat, it cooked our meat, making it more palatable. With warm bodies and full bellies, a funny thing happened. Everyone still congregated around the fire. Staring into its dancing flames is mesmerizing, putting us at ease. From watching the fire grow from first spark to watching the last coals glow, eventually burning themselves out, we watch, fascinated.

Thinking back, we can all recall great fires in our life. It might be from as far away as summer camp and making your first s’more. Or seeing the face of the red-haired girl with braces illuminated in the flames making her look different in a way you never noticed before. Maybe your memorable fire happened a few years back after spending all of opening day in the bitter cold, the wind cutting through your clothes, making your teeth chatter. You were so stiff you barely made the walk back to camp, but you eventually did. The fires warmth brought life back to your extremities as you thawed.

Those are the types of fires we remember most, the ones providing us heat to sustain life. It feels good not only by warming us but making us feel alive again. Everyone should experience being truly cold so they can appreciate heat even more.

Nature’s Tranquilizer

Whether you’re in Africa enjoying a “sundowner” with a fire made from a century’s old camel thorn tree after a day of hunting, or simply on your backyard deck enjoying the flames from scrap wood in your chimenea, fire has the same effect. It soothes weary, worried souls without a prescription.

The mere act of starting a fire with crude tools of flint and steel reinforces our frontier spirit as you acknowledge to yourself, “yeah, I could have made it back then.” Fire has many special properties, much like a favored old, dilapidated deer stand. The more time we spend with them the better our perspective on life becomes. Call it a reset, reboot, or refresher. Whatever it is, it works!

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