It’s the season for giving thanks.

There are many, many things for which I am thankful, especially in nature and the outdoor activities I enjoy doing here in Nebraska.

But, this holiday season, I wanted to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the individuals who allow me to hunt with them.

You see, being a Type A, overly talkative, boisterous, assertive person, these folks have put up with my constant chattering, story telling and more in hunting blinds over the years!

I sincerely appreciate the qualities exhibited by those with whom I share blinds. These are the folks who are safe, selfless, tolerant, dependable, tough, relaxed, flexible, lighthearted, expressive, honest, caring, generous and, like me, intense and extremely passionate about hunting and conservation.

The mark of true hunting partners comes with laughter, frustration, failure and success.

I owe each of them much, much gratitude. You handful of gentlemen in this group are greatly appreciated!

Nebraska conservation officer, Rich Berggren of Waterloo, NE and I frequently deer hunt with each other in the fall and winter. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Think about the value of a good hunting partner. Think about the value of your own hunting partner or partners.

It has often been said that it is easier to find a spouse than a good hunting partner. I am inclined to agree with that statement!

The worth of a good hunting partner is priceless and unparalleled.

The bond that hunters possess equals or surpasses some of the most important relationships we have in our lives. Where lethal firearms, bows, crossbows, knives, etc., legalities and ethics are involved, there has to be complete trust. And, that total trust among our hunting companions is comparable to that of close, tight-knit family members, even spouses. Perhaps your hunting partners are comprised of family members?

My youngest son, Noah Wagner of Omaha, NE, poses with a white-tailed deer buck he shot during a recent Nebraska firearm deer hunting season. When his schedule permits and the seasons coincide, we deer hunt together. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
My oldest son, Zach Wagner of Omaha, NE, with a wild turkey jake he harvested with me during a recent spring wild turkey hunting season in Nebraska. Zach and I have established a tradition of spring wild turkey hunting together here in the Cornhusker State. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Hunting partners may come and go. The good ones though have our farm gate keys, garage door entry codes and maybe even the combinations to our gun safes. They know where we hide the spare keys to our trucks.

We essentially authorize these individuals to positively influence our lives and place an enormous amount of responsibility in them, whether it is in the woods or with an aspect of our everyday routines. Consider this: Would you spend a couple weeks at an isolated hunting cabin or camp with a stranger holding a firearm or bow if you didn’t trust them?

I didn’t think so.

Long ago, the initial Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts happened because of a successful hunts by people who trusted each other and worked together to safely harvest game. The spirit of the holiday season is embedded in those personal bonds tied to the tradition of the hunts.

So, this holiday season I wanted to remember what is of paramount importance in our lives: People, and specifically the people who allow me to participate in the hunting experience with them and make indelible memories!

Jim Druliner of Omaha, NE and I crossbow wild turkey hunt together each spring on Jim’s land in southwest Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Whether I’m surrounded by family at the holiday dinner table or sitting beside a buddy in the hunting blind, the feeling of deep gratitude for these folks is all the same.

Good hunting partners help form the concept of “time outdoors is time well spent!”

I am genuinely thankful for my hunting partners.

Pat Wurth of Valley, NE and I share a lighter moment from the Canada goose hunting pit blind in southeast Nebraska. Photo by Mark Davis of Powell, WY.

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