Fellowship Over the Harvest

It’s my opinion that there is a large amount of hunters that prioritize shooting their guns and filling their limits for the day over everything else. I can understand that as I’ve found myself with that mindset more than once.

While I was home from college this December / January I was able to go on a couple hunts in my home state of Pennsylvania, as well as, in Maryland on the Potomac River.

This past waterfowl season has been a tough one for me. I’m living in Virginia and I have struggled to get out and hunt. My class schedule keeps me busy and I really don’t know many other duck hunters at school. The ones that I have met are struggling just like me to find a place to go hunting.

When I got home for Christmas break my dad told me about an idea he had. He proposed that we should try and get a group of guys together from our church for a hunt. I’ll admit that at first, I wasn’t sure about how I felt about this idea. We have a group that we hunt with and I have always had fun with those guys.

It was going to be my last hunt of break and I’d be headed back to Virginia, for the spring semester, the next morning. While I was home I didn’t shoot a thing and was angry about it. My initial goal was to shoot something before I chalked the entire trip home up to a hunting failure. However, the frustration became understanding as I began to slowly realize that the true meaning of hunting is trying to enjoy the fellowship over the harvest.

Our trip was a guided hunt with M&A Outfitters. Bill and my dad have hunted together off and on over the last 15 years. Over time Bill and my dad had become good friends and my dad knew that Bill would work hard to put us on the birds.

The night before we loaded up the coolers with food and drinks. We met up with the rest of the group at 5am and headed down to meet our guide. Upon arriving at the farm we found out that we were going to be hunting from two four-man pop up style blinds.

It was determined that Bill, another guy named Neil (who I knew from my high school youth group days), my dad and I would be in one of the blinds together.  As I was sitting there scanning the sky for any sort of bird that I could shoot, I noticed that my dad and Bill were talking to each other and trying to play catch up on the last couple of years. They were talking about life, their kids and their wives. They hadn’t seen each other in a few years and they started catching each other up on mutual friends that they’ve hunted with over the years.

We sat out there on a perfectly bluebird day for roughly four hours. We saw a ton of geese, but after a couple weeks of freezing temps all we saw were sky high birds that knew exactly where they were headed. No amount of calling or flagging would change their minds.

By this point in the hunt my goal of shooting something went out the window. We decided to bag it and we picked up the decoys. As we were standing at the trucks sharing stories and eating Royal Farms fried chicken I realized that the most important part of hunting is the fellowship and the comradery that you build with your buddies in the blind.

Suddenly I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Cole Anstadt

Student, Disciple, Outdoorsman.

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