KEVIN TATE: Skipping the anticipation cuts out half the fun

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

I threw my stuff into the van in the dark, jumped in alongside three other guys, pointed the headlights north and drove. We were heading to the Midwest for what promised to be a great hunt and a super adventure – but, as the stars winked out and the sun came up behind us, I couldn’t help feeling we’d forgotten something, particularly that I’d forgotten something, an important something.
Everything at work was squared away, so it wasn’t that. Everything at home was taken care of too, so that wasn’t it either. Rotary Club? No, that was lined up with Keith. T-ball? No, that was handled with Clay. We drove a lot of miles before I remembered what it could be, and by then it was too late to go back and get it.
This opportunity had come up at the last minute and I’d been especially busy over the past couple weeks getting ready to go. I’d made lists and checked off items. I’d have cell phone coverage the whole time so that was of no concern. I’d packed my camo and counted my calls, patterned the shotgun and put new batteries in the red-dot scope. I had my hunter education card in my pocket and all the necessary maps in my hand. We had plenty of fuel, fresh oil in the van, no shortage of food, a confirmed place to stay and most-recent-information as to where the turkeys would be.
Whatever I was missing plagued me through Tennessee and across Arkansas. It followed me through Oklahoma and well into Kansas before finally announcing itself five minutes after the last opportunity to fix the problem had been passed by.
What I hadn’t taken care of, it turns out, was taking time out to look forward to the adventure. Whoever coined the cliché that says getting there is half the fun could not have been more correct, though they didn’t necessarily mean the actual travel itself. Much more of what we enjoy in the outdoors is either anticipated or savored rather than experienced. Pretty often the events that happen after we look forward to them and before we reflect on them exist just to provide a basis for the other two, and if we leave off the first one, half the fun is gone.
I’m guilty too often of not spending enough time looking forward to the fun, but I hope I don’t fail to pass that part of the message along to my kids while they’re making up their mind as to whether or not they enjoy the outdoors.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.