Written by Pro-Staff Team Member Matt Truesdale
On Thursday, April 7, I had the opportunity to continue a tradition started by my hunting buddies and me - the tradition of attending the Pittsburgh Pirates home opener. This is the 3rd consecutive year that we have been to the home opener, and regardless of whether the Buccos win or lose, it is still an extremely enjoyable time. Nothing can compare to a full day of tailgating in the parking lot with the American and Jolly Roger flags flying high, supporting our favorite ball club at one of the best ball parks in the country and throwing down a Primanti’s sandwich with an IC Light.
As the game rolled into the bottom half of the 7th and we sang “take me out to the ball game” I began to wonder what are the year’s best season openers? Here at Collegiate Camo, we not only get pumped up for the start of hunting and fishing seasons, but for athletic seasons as well! Because of the bonded love affair of outdoorsman sports and athletic sports being a common trend that we all share, I have put together what I consider to be the most anticipated opening seasons of each year from the least popular to most popular.
12) NHL and NBA: I understand that these two sports are completely different, especially during playoffs in the post season. Heck, the playoffs for both of these leagues are an entirely new season and a different more exciting game. Even though I am a fan of the NHL I just cannot get as excited for the first game of the year like I can other sports. I’ll just wait for the start of the playoffs…
11) Small Game: Have you ever felt that heart pounding, nervous, exciting feeling as a big fox squirrel slowly comes down the path toward you? Yeah, neither have I. Although I do enjoy small game hunting and the camaraderie with my friends, small game is more of a thrown together afternoon activity than anything else. Even grouse and pheasant are more annoying and frustrating than they are enjoyable to hunt. But seriously, have you ever heard of “squirrel drives”? Exactly.
10) College Basketball: How long is it until March? This year VCU proved that the college basketball regular season does not matter and the big tournament is the only excitement worth watching. Yes, the end of the season tournament may possibly be one of the most exciting post seasons in any sport, but the opening game is just a tease until all the madness.
9) Waterfowl: I will hand it to the waterfowl hunters. I have yet to get fully enveloped into the sport, but these guys are crazy. Blinds, decoys, boats, face paint, calls, you name it. This season requires a lot of attention to detail, equipment, management and site location which could only lead to excitement on the opening day. Seasons in, migration’s cancelled.
8 ) White Tail Deer, Archery: Why did I separate archery and rifle? If you have to ask this question, than you must only hunt deer with a rifle. There are not many feelings that come close to having a deer walk within yards from you, and the practice and preparation needed in order to slay a buck with a broad head. Unfortunately, the first day of archery cannot quite contend with the first day of rifle. Be sure to bring enough scent eliminator as the first of archery always seems to be too hot, sticky, and muggy.
7) NFL: The NFL opener is similar to a family reunion. Every year there is a reunion, you generally see the same people, there is usually something or someone new that brings interest and then there is something or someone that embarrasses you. The majority of NFL fans already know what they have regarding their teams. The NFL opener is exciting, but the NFL opener lacks some of the glamour and anticipation of other season openers.
6) NASCAR: Yes, NASCAR. I know you are all wondering how and why NASCAR is as high as it is on this list. The answer is that the “Super Bowl” of NASCAR is the Daytona 500, the season opener. You can disagree all you want, but you cannot argue the fact that Daytona 500 is a hugely popular event full of everything needed for a great opening day.
5) Turkey: The elusive thunder chicken is by far one of the most frustrating and fun species to hunt. Combine this birds characteristics with the preparation it takes to bag a bird and 2 opening seasons throughout the year, you can’t beat turkey hunting. No other species or sport has 2 openers in a year, and doubling proves this sport aint no turkey.
4) MLB: Our nation’s pastime. The spring weather. Smells of popcorn, hot dogs and beer. 9 innings of excitement and a packed house. The MLB season opener matches and exceeds the excitement, anticipation, and popularity of any sport. Yes, the 162 game season is long, but every game counts in the attempt of achieving one of the few post seasons spots. The fact that the MLB opener does not just bring baseball back, but also brings back the warm weather and the thought of summer heralds the MLB opener high in this list.
3) Trout: The opening day of trout season may be different for many people throughout the country. But where I come from, the trout season opener is a right of passage for children and a day long family fun event. Everyone, literally everyone comes out to the streams for the first day of trout, which does have a drawback. Although some lines may get tangled between those fishing, the trout opener continues to be a spectacle year in and year out. Each cast of the line holds suspense of the possibilities of pulling back a 24 inch brownie, or just a 8 inch rainbow.
2) College Football: Do I honestly have to make an argument for this one? College football is simply American and brings an eruption of pent in anticipation into each fall from the past season. Every year is different in college football. Unlike professional sports, lineups and rosters change on a routine basis, keeping the game fresh and new. But most importantly, with the college football comes the tailgating. Other sports have their loyal and crazy fan base that do provide a spectacle of amazement when showcasing tailgates, but college football fans do it best and on a larger scale. Every school has their traditions, their massive tailgates and their crazy fans. Walk around any college stadium on any home Saturday afternoon and you will find the most die hard and loyal fans of any sport. The fans and tailgaters could only relate to college football as having the best season opener of any athletic sport.
1) White Tail Deer, Rife: I should not have to explain why. There is no more popular, exciting, anticipated day for any outdoorsman than the first day of rifle season for deer. There is nothing more important for an outdoorsman than bringing home the venison and bragging about the previous days hunt over the water cooler at work. The first day of rifle for deer is essentially a national holiday in most areas. No other season opener is built into work and school schedules, allowing individuals the day off to continue the American tradition and to spend time with family members at camp.