Having access to beautiful hunting grounds is something that many have been blessed with here on Camp Lejeune. Hunting season is rapidly approaching and I want to share the excitement and experience of the season.

There is more to hunting than just pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow. Hunting takes practice and patience. Sitting in the silence blending into nature, waiting sometimes for hours to see something. You can’t shoot at anything that walks by, you have to be selective. There have been many times I just sit in the tree stand watching as a momma deer and her babies play and graze (which as a hunter can be annoying at times) but that is something you don’t experience every day. Yes, you may see that on the side of the road but at that particular moment you are in their world, like a fly on the wall.

Hunting brings out a different side of me. I am not a morning person at all but you don’t have to drag me out of bed before sunrise in bone chilling weather when it comes time to hunt. Getting dressed and deodorizing your body to blend in as much as possible brings me back to playing dress up as a child, becoming someone or something different and not caring how ridiculous you look.

Being constantly in the woods is borderline therapeutic. The silence is soothing, well the partial silence because if you are hunter, you have more than been taunted by a squirrel jumping from branch to branch and at the time it sounds like you’re about to see the whitetail buck of a lifetime and all of his offspring.

Hunting offers unforgettable moments, like the moment when you see a deer walk so close to you, you could reach out and touch it, or you see your ideal deer and it feels like your heart has moved up into your ears. Once I was so mesmerized, I was frozen. I had to snap myself out of it and remember why I was there. I remember shooting my first deer. My hands didn’t stop shaking for a good five minutes after the fact. That adrenaline is addicting.

This is my favorite time of year because I like the challenge it brings. Hunting on base is a lot different than hunting on my family’s property. Scouting out hunting zones and competing with basically everyone on base provides a new challenge to the sport. You can be stalking a particular deer, and you may never see it again because someone else may have gotten to him or he moved on to another area that you do not have access to.

Another challenge is using the bow. I stick to bow hunting for many reasons, for one it is the first season to open, so in a sense it provides a longer hunting period than the rest. Also, in my opinion it takes more technique and requires more discipline. This in my eyes provides a fair playing ground between me and the animal. When using a bow, there appears to be a loud sense of pride in the hunting community. People seem to be impressed with your weapon of choice.

Hunting provides opportunities for families to spend time together. My family gets together every year, sometimes twice a year to hunt. My husband’s side of the family plans large hunting trips to Ohio. Families can practice shooting and scouting the hunting spots together as well. It brings healthy competition to the table and is a great topic of conversation. I can’t begin to express how intense the competition gets in my household just when practicing.

This season, I encourage you to find your own beauty in the sport, to journey beyond the physical hunt. To highlight the essence of the confidence, camaraderie, companionship and the peace it brings.

For information about hunting in the state, visit www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/Hunting-in-North-Carolina.