By Mark Kenyon

The snow drifted down my back, a cold breeze raised the hair on my neck and I took one final look at the winter wonderland around me. With a wave and a smile, I turned my back, took a step off the platform, and said goodbye to the 2013 deer season.

And now here I sit, puzzling over this strange new reality.

Today is Day 1 of a new season.

Over the coming days and weeks there will be plenty of time for reflection and reminiscing. Thinking back on the many great memories created last year. The lessons learned, the mistakes made, the successes had. But Day 1 of a new season, in my mind, isn’t about what happened in the past. It’s about what can happen in the future.

With one season in the books, and another on the doorstep, it’s hard now not to feel a refreshing surge of optimism. On Day 1 anything can happen. Anything is possible.

Over the coming days, weeks and months, I’ll work tirelessly to get right back to this moment, one year from now. Reflecting on a season well lived. But in between then and now, much will be done.

Goals will be set. Plans will be laid. And hopes will be high.

I think that’s what I enjoy the most about the beginning of a new season. Hope.

Who knows what’s in store for the new year and the new season, but right now, I have hope.

I have hope that I’ll again enjoy that most important connection with nature that I encounter each time I venture into the wild. I have hope that I’ll be a better hunter and a better man, learning from the experiences of this past year. I have hope that I’ll again feed my family, with the hard earned bounty of wild game. I have hope that I’ll again feel the rush as tall tines emerge from the brush. I have hope that this new season can be even better than the last.

And maybe that’s it. Right there. Maybe that’s why the 365 day a year pursuit of whitetails is so soul enthralling. Maybe that’s why it grips us, deep down, and never lets us go. Hope.

To hunt is to hope. And to be human, it is the same. At our core, as flesh and blood, emotion filled people,  we need that glimmer of a chance. That sparkle of an opportunity. That light at the end of the tunnel, urging us to keep on going, telling us that good things are just ahead. And that is what the hunt gives us. A mission to accomplish, a goal to complete, a quest to fulfill, and a hope to hold on to.

Today is Day 1 of a new season, and hopes are high.

And so the 2014 season begins.