Editor’s note: This column was originally published May 10, 2009.
Many years ago, a member of my hunting family moved on to new grounds and joined the ranks of another party. This particular member played an important role. I didn’t realize how much of a role they played until recently, when I found myself trying to fill the position and doing so poorly. The past member handled the responsibilities with such ease that I often overlooked their efforts, and only now have I begun to understand it completely.
The role left vacant would seem to most to be that of a secondary position or one that, as you matured, would no longer be required. It is true that in my hunting career I never saw this person shoot a deer, bear, squirrel or, well, anything for that matter. But like all successful outings, the behind-the-scenes work gets overshadowed by the conquest.
I have not seen or met anyone who could prepare more thoroughly for an adventure. It did not matter whether it was a weekend at a deer camp in Ritchie County or a 10-day jaunt in the backcountry, things were in order and well planned out.
In the down time, routine maintenance and repair of all of our clothing, sleeping bags and day packs were seen as standard operating procedures in order to keep the gear readied for a moment’s notice. The meals were prepared well in advance so that even cold, tired, worn out woodsmen would be able to nourish their bodies with home-style meals instead of eating Beanie-Weenies and snack cakes that the crew would have packed if they had been responsible. Menus were planned out so that little thought was needed in the field. Even on short or no notice, the truck could be packed and readied as if the person had been given two weeks’ notice.
The member had an uncanny ability to predict arrival and departure times for the hunting party. We often left without a return estimated time and I would always be amazed how they would know exactly when we would return and have something warm for us and a place to sit so we could tell our grand tales. Even more amazing is how they would not complain and, in fact, find pride in unpacking and readying the gear for the next trip, whether it was the following morning or a week away.
The sad reality is this person will never be replaced. In fact, the job posting was removed from the board many years ago and only fond childhood memories exist. Some other hunting party must have required their services more than my brother and me. I can guarantee, with utmost certainty, when they go afield that they will have someone at home watching for the lights of the truck to pull in the driveway and a warm meal waiting on the table upon their return.
I miss you, Mom. I will make sure I pack your grandson a raincoat, make sure he stays warm and take the time to listen to his tales of grand adventures. I know you will hear them, too.
Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere — thanks for all you do.
Editor’s note: This column was originally published May 10, 2009.
Re-living the big moment
My brother and I have hunted Thanksgiving week together since we were children. In fact, when we first started hunting I was too young to carry a gun for the first few seasons. My job back then was to sit quietly alongside him watching patiently for a buck to wander into our view. Rarely did we even see a deer.
Good books make great holiday gifts
For the nature lovers on your holiday gift list, a good book is always appreciated. Here are a few titles I’ve recently discovered that any nature lover will enjoy.
Some tips to help through gun season
Monday is the start of the largest single-day sporting event in West Virginia — the opening day of firearm buck season. Tomorrow morning, droves of hunter orange-clothed participants will watch a new day being born in hopes that a trophy deer will wander by. Chances are you or someone in your household will be directly involved in the deer season or at least chances are you know someone who is. So when the contractor doesn’t show up to fix the leak in the basement or won’t return your calls, you’ll know why.
Getting closer to that elusive 10-point buck
I’ve been spending as much time as I can deer hunting since the rut has kicked in. It’s been a chess match waiting for the deer to make the next move. Up until a couple weeks ago, the deer — even the bucks — have been more concerned with feeding in the fields due to the lack of mast in the woods.
Predators as much a problem as hunters for deer
As the deer gun season approaches, there’s a tendency to ignore predators as a factor that limits deer populations. And after reviewing deer harvest numbers released by several state wildlife agencies, it’s no wonder.
A true artist cooking wild game
I first met Eileen through her husband, John. In fact, John was in attendance the first time I was tasked with hosting writers on a media event. I was super nervous and very reluctant to interact with the other writers. John noticed my nerves and settled me down by simply taking the time to talk about subjects I was familiar with, like wingshooting and shotguns. We quickly became friends and have hunted together in such far-off places as Argentina, New Zealand and Texas, to name a few.
Are deer as smart as they sometimes seem to be?
Every fall I hear about a big buck someone has been tracking and watching for weeks. But when the gun season arrives, that big buck vanishes, only to reappear a few weeks later. Are deer really that smart?
Hunters Helping the Hungry feeds families
A survey came across my desk this week and to be honest, as a deer hunter and someone who enjoys nature’s wonderful bounties, it sparked my interest. The gist of the national and state-level survey conducted by Responsive Management is that obtaining meat is an increasingly important motivation among American hunters to go afield. It probably comes as no surprise, especially for us sportsmen who have cherished the practice of farm/field to table meals for years, that hunting for food is a motivating factor. Besides, fresh venison is good for you, and if taken care of and prepared properly, tastes wonderful.
Trail cams proving a valuable tool
If you’ve ever suspected there was a big buck roaming your favorite hunting grounds, you probably wished you could monitor the area 24/7. But that’s virtually impossible unless you use a trail cam.
An incredible day for a duck hunt
I was really looking forward to this opening day. Don’t get me wrong, every hunting season opener is special — especially when you get older and realize just how fragile they can be. For sportsmen, the anticipation and planning for the opener of a particular season has caused many daydreams to come true and the year-long hard work to pay off.
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