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'Dixie and I had free reign on great pheasant habitat. ... Except for Dixie, I was totally alone for those five hours.'

COURTESY PHOTO - Tom Cook, with Dixie.I don't know about you, but I am somewhat pleased that the midterm political season is over. Now it is time for me to focus on more important things: bird hunting!

Don't get me wrong. I informed myself, voted, and debated (friendly) with relatives and friends. But it does grow weary on a soul. They call it "Political Fatigue Syndrome." I think I have it.

The cure that I give myself is to load up my hunting dogs (Dixie and Maggie, pointing French Brittanys) and head outdoors. I lived in Eastern Oregon for nine years and enjoyed the easy proximity of hunting areas and the many types of upland birds. Now that I am in my newly adopted home town of Forest Grove, the climate and areas to hunt are more difficult to find. In other words, I was spoiled.

So, I decided to give a maintained pheasant hunting preserve a try. I chose to explore Lukiamute (Luck-ee-mute) Valley Pheasants near Monmouth. I was not disappointed. Chuck Cates does an excellent job in giving his guests a good experience. After checking in, Chuck gave me a map, coached me on the rules, and set me off to hunt on my own. Dixie and I had free reign on great pheasant habitat. I spent five hours walking through fields of sorghum, corn and tall grass. There was a long, tree-lined winding dirt road next to the Little Lukiamute River. After bagging two roosters, Dixie and I took a break at my truck for lunch. We both fell asleep laying on a blanket in the back of my truck. We finished the day getting three more for a total of five roosters. (Private preserves set their own limit. The state has a two-bird limit.)

Except for Dixie, I was totally alone for those five hours. It was a good experience. Walking through open fields, strolling along the river, falling asleep in the bed of the truck, enjoying the cool air and warm sunshine. The fall air and multicolored leaves provided a fantastic backdrop. It was a time for me to "decompress" from all that the world seems to throw at us.

Maybe that is where the answer lies. It seems that as we go through the seasons of life, from one challenge to the next, we are pulled forward with each new change of scenery. I know that is true in my life. We have a hunting season, football season, basketball season, planting and harvest seasons, and so on. Seasons.

Growing up in the 1960s, I remember a very famous song by The Byrds called "Turn, Turn, Turn" — "To every season, turn, turn, turn." The music was written by Pete Seeger. But Pete didn't come up with the words. He found them in the very old book of Ecclesiastes 3:1: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."

So, as a relatively new resident of Forest Grove, I am adjusting to this new "season" of my life. I look forward to what each day brings. Perhaps something challenging. Perhaps something uplifting. Perhaps something rewarding. And I move forward. Now that is something to think about.

Tom Cook is a volunteer chaplain for the Forest Grove Police Department and Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.


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