Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dad...

     I've mentioned before that I didn't grow up in a hunting family...Mom, Dad and two older sisters. I was the baby and being the only boy, doted over by my folks. Not spoiled, but didn't want for anything, but then again, neither did my sisters. I did and still do have a different relationship with my parents than my sisters do. In particular with my dad...Being the only son, being the youngest came with it's own unique perks as well as problems.

    From an early age, Dad saw that I needed to be outdoors. That "it" was part of me and he did what he could to feed that desire. Dad was far from a hunter...He was a product of the post-depression era and his hunting experience consisted of him acting as a rabbit hound, jumping on brush piles and climbing through fence rows, thorns and briars in hopes of pushing a bunny out of cover towards his shotgun toting dad and older brother. Dad never got to be the shooter and hunting for them wasn't about recreation or "fun"...it was additional sustenance and it left a bad taste in my dad's mouth...Now fishing on the other hand, that was Dad's game...

     Crappie, bluegill, bass, catfish, it didn't matter. If they were biting, Dad would always take time to get me on the water. Ponds, local creeks, the Ohio...we wet lines nearly every summer day in between little league baseball, 4H and his shift work. I can't count the number of times he would get home at 8am after working a 12 hour shift, tell me to hook up the boat and then we'd hit the river for a morning of catching channels and blues from some deep hole...Bass fishing was the same way. We'd hike to some farm pond in the middle of a weedy pasture in hopes of catching a big one...most of the time we brought home more chigger and mosquito bites than fish...but, he always found time and energy to get me out there...out in the sun, out in the wind...outdoors.

     12 years old and the fire to hunt burned in me...and Dad fed the coals. He didn't know the first thing about deer hunting, but that didn't stop him from getting me in the woods. Back then, permission was easy and Dad seemed to know everyone around, so access to hunting ground was a given. The actual idea of seeing a deer, let alone shooting one was something altogether different! I often wonder what would've happened if either of us had shot a deer and who would've attempted to field dress it...Dad and I spent several cold mornings huddled up against the cedars over looking what we thought was deer country. It's amazing that neither of us suffered frost bite...we had almost no "hunting" gear and a guy can only keep his feet so warm with 3 pairs of tube socks under rubber boots! But Dad plugged along and endured the cold in his Rising Sun Volunteer Fire Department coveralls and helmet liner that we always referred to as a "Snoopy" hat...I still grin when I think of him in that hat.

     The fire had been stoked into a full blown blaze and I out paced Dad when it came to our time in the deer woods, but he was fine with that. Every now and then, he'd still take to the trees with me when the weather was fair. But, he was content to get his fill of the "outdoors" along side a pond yanking a few bluegill and crappie. Even though he no longer hunts with me, he's always interested in my adventures about the woods and would listen intently as I'd recount a hunt and I could and still can see the excitement in his eyes...To this day, dad has no idea what impact those early trips to the ponds, or to the creeks seining minnows, or our failed attempts at deer meant to me as a young outdoorsman or as a son. It helped shape the man I am today and grateful doesn't even come close to explain how I feel...Thanks Dad for taking me fishing! I hope when I'm 75 years old, Drew feels the same about our time shared out there...


     Happy Birthday Dad...I'm proud to be your son.