Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Growing up Rural...

     Maybe it's the middle age thing or maybe it's that I'm watching my kids grow up right before my eyes. Maybe it's the fact that my parents seemed to have grown old overnight...Whatever the reason, when I'm on up here on my post, my mind always seems to float back to old memories and they invariably take me back to my teens as a young hunter. Boy, we were something then, me and my buddies. We really thought we were some sort of Grizzly Adams! In actuality, I don't think any of us grew up in hunting families. Sure, a few of us had a brace of beagles for an occasional rabbit hunt or an old black and tan that would tree a coon every now and then. But for the most part, we found our own way through the pages of outdoor magazines and a lot of trial and error! Man, where things different "back in the day."

     Funny how much has changed in the past 25 years...Growing up rural, we all knew where we could hunt and fish. Long gone are the days of gaining access to hunting ground on a handshake or through a door knock and leasing wasn't even in our vocabulary. Most farmers and land owners were happy to let you on their place, just respect the fences and leave everything better than you found it. Sometimes it might cost you an afternoon of throwing hay or straw or housing tobacco, but that was a bargain for unlimited hunting, fishing and trapping! Places familiar to my gang...like Turner's, Elliott's,and Barbour's. Spots with names like the Gravel Pit, the Bottoms, Buck's Run, the Palmer Place, G.I. Place, Fletcher's, the Douglas Farm. Then there was Williams', Siekman's,Dibble's, Hartford and Conways Ford. A short drive down the river to Swiss Lakes, Hutcherson's and North Bend Farm. I don't think there was an "outdoor" kid that didn't leave his mark on the beech trees in Wessler's woods. Those were the days...

     If you drove by the high school parking lot, it was full of 4x4's and I don't mean the nowaday's lifted, rollin' black smoke, turbo charged diesels! No sir, I mean real pieces of Detroit steel! Rusted, tie wired, loud, with leaky exhaust mud machines! The more mud you could sling all over town and the parking lot after tearing through the "Bottoms", "Lost 40's" or "Dam Lane" the better! A real badge of honor. What's more, most of the time, a shotgun or muzzleloader could be found hanging in the gun rack of pick ups and no one at the school batted an eye...Same went for a knife...From 6th grade on, I felt naked if I didn't have a pocket knife with me and I'd bet most of the guys and a fair share of the girls from my generation carried a knife to school. Not for protection or as a threat, but a good knife comes in handy for lots of things...I'm sure in some lost storage area at the school, an old study hall desk with the initials D.H. carved into it bears witness to my artistic skill with a blade! Bring a knife to school today and the Department of Defense is called in! Okay, that's an exaggeration, but you get my point... Yep, those days are gone...

     A teenage boy could be out all night, catfishing in the river at Fryman's or up Grant's Creek or frog gigging some obscure pond in the middle of an overgrown pasture and his parents weren't calling out the calvary to find him. I can't count the number of times I've seen the sunrise along a creek bank after a night of fishing or from the woods after chasing a hound all over God's creation or during an impromptu camping trip! Sad...

     I don't know why I always go back to those days...Maybe because I enjoyed them so much and am grateful for the memories they gave me. Maybe it's because I'm afraid my own kids, and certainly my future grand kids won't get to experience "the good old days"...but for whatever reason, I'm glad I grew up "rural"...