Dear Santa

Posted on December 20, 2011

3


All I want for Christmas is…

 

It would be implausible to think at my age that somewhere in the North Pole resides a man who annually, on the 24th of each December, treks around the globe delivering presents to all humanity.  An even bigger stretch of this fantasy would be the belief that under his hire, several little people known as elves work feverishly constructing all of our material wants.

Much like every other little girl and boy, there was a time in my youth when I too held to this fanciful assumption. As time passed and I grew up, married and had children of my own, the reality of a fat man dressed in a red suit driving a team of reindeer became ridiculous. Try as I might to catch this elusive character coming down the chimney with a sack full of goodies, the effort proved futile. It quickly became apparent that if there was to be a Santa Clause arriving at my house to ‘fill the stockings with care’, the responsibility of such duties fell directly to me.

It is not easy becoming Santa during this bustling season; especially if your kids are still convinced he really exists. First you have to intercept their list, promising to mail it of coarse and then trudge around stores to find the latest toy you’ve never heard of before now. These big box extravaganzas they call super-stores are always mobbed with every imaginable form of human kind whose demeanor is usually less than ‘jolly.’ Then, once you have searched, found and purchased the listed items, they are transported back to and snuck into your dwelling. Every package gets meticulously wrapped, labeled and hidden in hopes that the kids will not go snooping before St. Nicholas gets there.

The whole charade culminates on Christmas Eve when the kids are finally tucked in for the ‘short winters nap.’ Exhausted, stressed and irritable you place the presents under the wilting bush that takes up a large part of your living room, consume several cookies that are then washed down with a tall glass of Egg Nog, write a thank you note in your best St. Nick penmanship and at long last, retire to bed.

Why, you may ask, would otherwise rational people go through such shenanigans for one single day? The answer is quite simple, to experience the look of surprise, excitement and fulfillment in their children’s eyes come Christmas morning.

As deer hunters that same expectation is the exact reason why we sit and shiver for hours on end in a tree stand in anticipation of a forth-coming whitetail. It is the rationale for rising from a warm bed in the wee hours of the morning to excitedly venture off into a harsh environment in search of a mere vision. In the end, reaching down into the snow to grab the antler of a majestic buck that has been brought to bear after countless miles of trekking through impenetrable terrain brings a wide smile and complete satisfaction to our being. Let’s face the facts, we go to great extremes with the insane hope that our actions will bring us that one brief moment of gratification.

With this in mind, let’s write our own letter to Santa. Rather than asking for a shiny new gun, a technologically correct bow or the latest in fashionable hunting togs, (none of which will enhance our hunting prowess), lets petition for the real and lasting attributes to which our hunting success ultimately hinges.

Dear Santa,

At mid-life I’ve come to realize that ‘things’, material possessions, are not what brings lasting contentment nor will they get me any closer to taking a trophy whitetail. It’s not the gear that is important; it’s how the stuff is used. Therefore, this Christmas I’m not looking for trappings that can be contained within a sack. What I desire is the following list of items that cannot be bought, borrowed or sold.

Time

Every one of us has an equal amount at the beginning of each day. Not one of us knows how much we will ultimately be granted in our life span. The difference lies in how we choose to spend these fleeting moments. Although our culture has changed dramatically from days gone by when an evening spent in delicious solitude observing whitetails in their natural habitat was a form of entertainment of the finest kind, it is still as practical as ever. How else are we to learn about this fascinating creature if our only interaction with the animal takes place when we are engaged in the act of hunting? Despite the wealth of literature, images and lectures produced annually about the white-tailed deer, nothing can compete with first hand observations. My first request this holiday season is to ensure that I budget my time wisely and invest it into watching and learning the behavioral characteristics of the animal I so enjoy pursuing.

Patience

Impetuousness has cost me, as well as many of my fellow huntsmen, far more opportunities at getting our deer than errant bullets ever have. We live in a society where everything spins at breakneck speed. All of our conveniences operate for efficiency. Essentially, we have trained ourselves to be an impatient lot due in large part to our technology. Whitetails know nothing of speed-dialing, e-mails, microwaves or cell phones. Deadlines and clocks do not govern their world. Whitetails, like all other animals of the forest, live out an existence devoid of chaos and anxiety. My second request is to have the good sense to patiently let every whitetail encounter unfold naturally without any attempt on my part to force the situation.

Perseverance

Without failure there would be no measure for success. When you attempt to capture an animal as unpredictable as the whitetail, which has a tremendous tenacity to live, the pendulum of achievement will not always swing in our favor. Not one of us is immune to setbacks or disappointments, it is part of life. The real achievers in the hunting community are those that rise above the hardships and excel in spite of them. My third request is to refrain from allowing disheartening circumstances such as a deerless season or a blown opportunity drag me into the pit of discouragement.

Nobility

Being gracious is not a trait that comes easily to us. In this highly competitive world we tend to strategize and position ourselves in the most favorable situations as they relate to us. I heard a quote the other day that had such an impact on me I was forced to pull my vehicle over and write it down, “The measure of a man is not in his strength, it is in his nobility.” We get so caught up in our own selfish desires to lay claim to the biggest buck in the woods that we fail to see how damaging our actions become to those we share our camp with. A whitetail, despite however large in stature he may be, can never hope to replace the significance of a relationship. The deer is not the whole equation; he is only part of the entire experience. Without friends to share the hunt with, the journey becomes stale and tasteless. My final request is to never forget to place the value of my comrades above my own wants and desires and to ensure their needs always supersede mine.

Santa, I know this is a rather unusual Christmas list and perhaps one that has seldom crossed your desk, but I also realize that only the guy writing it can actually ensure its total fulfillment.

Sincerely,

The Deer Tracker

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Posted in: Whitetail Deer