By GERRY SWANSON
I enjoy hunting my home turf as much as anyone. That is partly because I live in a state that has much to offer sportsmen. Nevada still has an abundance of wild land, with plentiful habitat and a diversity of game.
That said, I admit to an equal love of traveling to hunt. And by traveling I don’t mean flying. Air travel is too impersonal, too abrupt. The space between leaving and getting there is too condensed to build anticipation for what is to come and to savor the possibilities. I’m talking about driving: hitting the road rolling along the blue highways, those thin, wandering lines that once designated rural roads on paper maps.
A road trip offers time to envision the great possibilities ahead. Indeed, there is nothing quite like pondering the possibilities ahead through a windshield to get a hunter’s juices flowing in the right direction.
You’d think that otherwise mature adults would have outgrown wild enthusiasm and out-of-proportion expectations. Yet we are no more immune to extravagant dreams than a teenager on a first date. To be sure the anticipation of what awaits us at our destination is often the better part of the whole trip. Our dreams are of an El Dorado where the weather is perfect, we are at the top of our shooting game, birds are plentiful, and of course our dogs preform flawlessly.
We can make our anticipated world appear as we wish. Unlike reality, the fantasy world of travel is boundless.
Dogs are another side, a critical side, of the traveling coin. It would be a fine thing if they could share our expectations of happenings ahead. But they cannot. At least, not in the same way and to the same degree that we experience them. Or do they?
Dogs react to packing a vehicle for a trip in different ways. My little house dogs go into instant panic mode when suitcases are packed. On the flip side my labs have learned nothing happens until the truck leaves, so they stay with the truck, preferably in it.
They will always be where the action begins. Watching all the small stuff like gear bags and first aid kits get packed never excites them overly much. Dog food, water containers, bowls catch their attention, as do ammunition boxes. Interest levels kick up notch when their things got loaded. But it is always the final items, shotgun cases, that feverishly banging around in their crates, apparently a dogs way of saying, ‘You’ve got the important stuff, now lets get rolling”. And they were always right, it was time.
We soon settled into the soothing rhythm of the road. I began to focus on the evocative view of the blue highways ahead and to imagine what waits at the end of them, in the great outdoors.