I love this time of year, not for what is but rather what once was.

I love this time of year, not for what is but rather what once was. Hunting seasons are approaching and my mind bubbles with wonderful memories of woods and fields, gun smoke and coffee, of misty mornings and friends who are long gone.

I grew up an avid hunter, but over the years, have hunted less and less. I eventually just quit altogether.

It was more of an evolution than conscious decision and had nothing to do with any touchy-feely morality issues. It’s essentially a matter of my personal perception of a cost-benefit calculation, asking myself exactly what benefits I received from shooting things.

When I was young, my parents and I would eat what I shot, so I participated in my proper predatory role as nature dictated. As I aged and became more affluent and lazy and soft, cleaning and preparing animals and birds got to be more trouble than it was worth.

I loved hunting but no longer consumed game I bagged. Eventually I asked myself exactly what I “loved” about the sport and the answer pretty much boiled down to being all about adrenalin and endorphins and excitement of the chase.

So my main benefit of making dead things out of living things turned out to be the chemical shot my glands administered whenever I fed my predatory instincts. Stepping away, it looked pretty selfish to make a permanent trade of an animal’s heartbeat for a fleeting jolt of primordial excitement.

So now I don’t hunt and enjoy watching deer and squirrels and rabbits without instinctively reaching for a gun. But make no mistake about it, recollections of times past are absolutely wonderful, and every year when the weather starts to cool and days shorten, I leaf through my mental photo album of memories.

For those of you who have managed to read this far, don’t think for a second that I’m some weird do-gooder who resents the harvesting of animals for food and clothing. My favorite animals are served beside baked potatoes.

I love hunting, but it’s just no longer for me. I guess I’ve morphed into some sort of Albert Schweitzer. I mention him because of an article I read about him many years ago that stuck with me.

While being interviewed by a reporter, Schweitzer almost stumbled avoiding a bug crawling on the sidewalk. At the time I remember thinking, “What a complete idiot!” Who in their right mind cares one way or another if they squash a bug?

I don’t for a second believe life is sacred, but I now make personal choices where I can. I have no compunction about using mouthwash to kill millions of little creatures every day but where possible will avoid killing a bug if it’s just trying to “earn” its living and doing me no harm.

I know the subject is silly — perhaps even stupid — but that’s one of the benefits of having these weekly conversations. I can type what comes up and could care less whether anybody gets it, assuming there’s even anything to “get.”

I know what you’re thinking: “Get the straightjacket!”

Otis Gardner can be reached at ogardner@embarqmail.com.