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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Aches and pain of aging and hunting

Jess Shut Up


I remember my first day of high school football practice. What I remember more is the next day barely being able to get out of bed. Every muscle, joint and bone seemed to scream with an extreme aching that had never been felt before by this young teen. Fast forward to this past weekend. It was the opening day of hunting season, and as I write this, those same muscles are singing the same tune they sang many years ago.

Of course, on many occasions over the years between our youth and our current status we have all put in many a hard day’s work and felt it the next day. As we get older and older, it seems it takes longer and longer to recover. The phrase “pain in the neck” must have been uttered the first time by a hunter who packed his heavy deer gun up, over, around, under, and through the sagebrush-infested stomping grounds of the elusive legal buck’s domain. Painkiller of choice was applied as soon as he was back in his warm, dry, comfortable home.

Picture this: you stomp all over the country, seeing your desired treasure on only a few fleeting occasions and on land where you do not have permission to tread. Dejected and depressed, you make the slow journey home like a heartbroken teenager, head hung low, dragging your way with a heavy gear bag, feet slowly shuffling. As you begin to climb your stairs, which seem like Mount Everest to your hips and knees, you glance over at your apple tree to see your treasure has been waiting for you at home all day. Perfectly legal and perfectly broadside and perfectly undisturbed. The hunter’s body says you win today, Mr. Buck, and continues his climb and licks his wounds in bed. Only to do it again the next day, except adding a glance at the now vacant spot under the tree.

Back during those football years, we recovered very quickly from those grueling workouts; but today, a few years later for sure, we take weeks, and sometimes months, before the muscles simmer down and get back to normal. Thank goodness for natural healing oils. They work and smell good. Also, a hot bath really feels good after a day of wet socks and heavy boots. When I think about it now, it makes me wonder why any of us put our bodies through this kind of ordeal year after year for days on end. As I sit and try to wonder why I should ever again don the camo and get my hopes up, I see a shoulder-mounted whitetail deer hanging on the wall, and the memories flood back to me of that day. Friends, laughter and good times dance in my mind. A smile comes to my lips as I drift off to sleep. A vision of monster deer clouds my dreams and tomorrow can’t come fast enough.

Just like the kid who dreamed of being the next Laurence Taylor or Barry Sanders and knew that practice made him a better player in the future, the hunter knows that around the next ridge awaits his next big deer and the only way to get there is to pick up each mud-infested boot and keep on going. The next game will be your big game and the next hunt will be your big hunt. The hard part is just ignoring the body’s screams of defeat and proving to the pain that success is just one more practice away or one more sagebrush away. Push through and get there, which goes not only for football and hunting but all obstacles that life throws at us.

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