On the morning of August 15, we were blessed to see the sunrise of another squirrel season in Kentucky.
I had prepared the day before, laying out my Lite clothing, filling my hunting vest with No. 5 Remington Clean-Bore 12-gauge shells. After getting my ThermaCell pads and fuel into my vest, I set my alarm for 5 a.m., made sure the coffee pot would start at the same time, and spent a sleepless night, like I always do the night before any hunting season opens.
When the alarm sounded, I jumped into the shower. The coffee would be ready by the time I got out. I slipped on my camo shirt and pants, put my honey bun into the microwave, and sat down to enjoy a few minutes of peace before heading into the woods. Sharon, my wife, came down the hall and said, “Must be opening day of squirrel season.”
This was year 49 of her being here for this day. We got married on August 13, 1971. It was a Friday the 13th. Squirrel season opened the next day, so it was either get married on the Friday before squirrel season or wait a few weeks. We got married. The next morning I headed out to the Daniel Boone National Forest well before daylight on opening day. We could honeymoon later. You see, Sharon knew I am a hunter before we married, and she has never said one word about me going on a hunt. She has even paid for some of the expensive trips, like the one to Canada last year.
This past Saturday, she sat down as I drank my coffee and ate my honey bun. She said just a few words that made my mind go blank. “Poppy, where are you hunting today?” she asked.
For the eight years I have lived here in Estill County, I never had any land leased nor had any person offer me to hunt on their land. As I sat there, suddenly in shock, I thought I have nowhere to hunt. I said, “Mimi, I am going back to bed.” She said, “I think I will also.”
This was the first opening day of squirrel season I have missed in 70 years. Old habits die hard, and the force of a habit is the strongest force on earth.