Some of the clues are quite apparent. Today as I browsed Facebook I was inundated with post after post of people celebrating "The Glorious 12th", which marks opening day of grouse season in the UK. I enjoy reading about moorland outings, and one day will have my own tale of tweed and heather to tell. Just not this year.
Other clues are less apparent, sneaking up on us, and upsetting the household balance. Like every year, the first cool, dry August nights signal a change in behavior and thoughts of the upcoming grouse season start occupying our cerebral space. Like an Autumn moon affects the woodcock, the changing night air affects the wingshooter. None more than the grouse hunter, who begins straining in an effort to spot the first hint of leaves changing color.
I am affected no less than anyone else, maybe more. In the week alone an obvious change has occurred. Equipment which has been stored since last winter has once again seen the light of day as it is inspected. Boots have suddenly found a new coat of boot oil, and plans to sit at the reloading bench, building the perfect grouse load have been laid. The change has not been lost on my very lovely and supportive wife, who upon returning from work in the evening does not make mention of the fact that I am watching the same Ruffed Grouse Society YouTube video for the 15th time. She knows, through experience, how this pre-season build up works. It benefits her, too. She often refers to herself as a hunting season widow, acknowledgement that I do in fact spend a lot of time away from home when grouse season is open.
This year the build up is probably a bit more intense as I've organized another Grouse School event for the Ruffed Grouse Society. The event is a one day clinic in which we pass on everything the new hunter will need to know to start grouse hunting.
Of course real life isn't about just grouse hunting, and I've have got a couple other fantastic things in the works to distract me. Next month we will be going back to Japan to visit family. I most certainly look forward to this. We have tentative plans to do some hiking when we are there, and I was informed last night that there is a place I can go fishing, with equipment rental, near where we are staying......but hiking and fishing are not the things I am most looking forward to (after seeing family, of course). The things about this trip that are providing the most distractions from the season build up are my tattoo appointment, and rugby. For some time now I have been in the process of getting a traditional Japanese full back tattoo from Horiyoshi III. This trip I will be having the final installment of what has been a long, interesting adventure. This trip to Japan also corresponds with the Rugby World Cup, which Japan is hosting. I've long been a rugby supporter, and was thrilled to be able to get a ticket to see Wales v Australia in Tokyo. Two dreams coming true in one trip to Japan.
.......but still, I can't stop thinking about the fact that I will miss the opening day of woodcock season here at home.