Notes from the Aging Hunter’s Journal

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm” Henry David Thoreau

I’m really not sure how it happened. I’m having some people look into it and I am anxiously waiting for their report. I’m hoping it just some kind of computer glitch or other misunderstanding. I certainly never planned on this, I have maybe heard of it happening to others but not me, no way. For those of you that have nothing better to do and actually read these pages, we have talked about this before, but somehow, inexplicably, I got older. I know, hard to believe, but evidently it’s true.

Again, as I have talked about before, this is what is so hard to explain to other, usually younger hunters. In my mind, how I think of myself, I am still one of the young bucks. I know it sounds crazy but it is as if I have to remind myself sometimes, “O yeah, I am a little older now; I don’t have to run up this hill.” Maybe this is why I tend to resent it when I may catch a younger hunter doing something that I think of as a concession to my age, offering to carry something, or suggesting I might want to take the easiest path. I usually take umbrage at this but I need to do better, I need to start working this to my advantage. I need to start treating some of these people better, the ones that I tell I have boots, and shotgun shells older than they are.

Much wiser and more talented writers before me have made the observation that getting older is rough but it beats the heck out of the alternative. Here are some of the common maladies age brings to the hunter and how to deal with them.

Say again? Back when the earth was still recovering from the last ice age, that is when I was young, we almost never wore hearing protection when shooting. We either didn’t know any better or were afraid of peer pressure if we did. Even when I started in law enforcement (still a few years ago) and was doing a lot of shooting, training and qualifying with duty weapons, and then shooting competitively in combat and bullseye pistol matches, we wore hearing protection usually but it was not stressed like it is now.

Hearing may be as important as eyesight to a hunter, and in certain types of hunting like turkeys or still hunting for deer it is very important. Some older hunters go the expensive hearing aid route, but there are several less expensive routes that you can try so that you can hear a turkey gobble at a distance and an old buck sneak around the hill behind you. Walker’s is a company that has made hearing protection and hearing enhancement devices for hunters for many years. Walker’s offers a full line of electronic ear muffs and earbud devices for the hunter, starting with the Ultra Ear BTE for about $30.00, the famous Game Ear has models for $200.00 and less, check them out on www.walkersgameear.com.

What I really need is longer arms. After age forty almost all of us fall prey to presbyopia, a fancy name for the reason that you need to go to the eye doctor but most of us go to Wally World and get cheap reading glasses. Because of some cruel trick of nature where the lenses inside our eyes harden, it makes it difficult for us to focus on objects up close. The really cruel part for us hunters is that it is hard to see out to about arm’s length, which is where the sights are on a handgun and a bow. Take the time and go to the optometrist, and get the correct prescription.

If want to it right you need shooting glasses, eyewear made to help you with problems with light, help you see contrast better, and give you a crisp picture of what you are looking at. Hunters HD Gold shooting glasses do all this and more, they make several styles of shooting glasses, some styled for shotgunners, archers, and other shooting disciplines. Hunters HD Gold makes shooting glasses with single lens, bifocals and trifocals. The lenses are progressive, meaning no lines between the magnifications, so there is no image jumps or distortion. This is too much to tell about here so check out www.huntershdgold.com.

You ain’t the man (or woman) you used to be. Sorry to bring it up but it’s true. In short several things are going on; as we age we lose strength, flexibility, and circulation. So don’t do as I do, do as I say, a regular exercise regimen will help with all of this. If you are not active you may lose five to seven pounds of muscle mass every decade. If you are a bow hunter do you need to still be shooting a bow set at seventy pounds? I don’t think so, let off on the poundage. Poor circulation means cold hands and feet, warm boots, gloves and cold weather clothing are almost too numerous to mention in this day and age, take your pick. Those chemical hand warmers for your gloves and boots can do wonders. Here is another thought, do you really need to be on top of the mountain every day before daylight? Maybe just slow the pace a little, you’ve earned it. Speaking of getting up that mountain, many of us swore we would never get on an ATV in any form, now they are looking pretty good. www.polaris.com

While we will never regain our youth, (which is wasted on the young by the way) a much wiser hunter pointed out to me that the best way to feel young again is to take a young hunter to the woods. Actually, any hunter younger and less experienced than you will fill the bill. Seeing and hearing all the things that we older codgers take for granted, a turkey’s gobble, the well rubbed tree from an old buck, bear tracks in the mud, or brook trout in a tiny creek. When they experience these things for the first time we are there again, back to a time when the world was bright and shiny new. Plus they are really handy for dragging deer and driving the truck.

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