Sunday, August 16, 2009
The Important Things In My Life
What things are important in my life? Good question, but one that can be terribly easy and rather difficult to answer in what space is allotted to this daily blog.
There are the obvious: my family, friends and the outdoors. My wife is a rock that has centered me for many years. My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all very important to me for many different reasons..
We own three cars, and the newest one was manufactured in 2003. So, it immediately becomes obvious that my ride doesn’t rate the high marks awarded by other people. I need reliable transportation but fancy is not what spins my tires. I need rides that can carry my rods and reels, wet waders, and on occasion, tow a boat. It needs to be big enough to accomadate a good-sided buck with nice antlers for those times when luck and skill come together. I don’t fancy a fancy car.
Want a gas guzzler? I got one. The Suburban has 26,000 miles on it, and it has a part that needs replacing. The part, plus time and labor, come to more than $1,000. A simple poorly made part that costs as much as my Social Security monthly check provides. Is it any wonder that General Motors and the other American automakers are in financial trouble? It just seems unreasonable to me that such vehicles wear out so quickly, and it costs so much to replace them.
For most people, their home is terribly important, and that importance is doubly true for me. I’m 70 years old, and the toys of my lifetime are numerous. Such as, you ask? Well, I’ve fished and hunted for more than 40 years on a professional level. Having rods and reels for any and all occasions on the North American continent means there are many examples; countless fly and spinning rods, a bunch of bait-casting rods, and perhaps a dozen heavy trolling rods for muskies or Dipsy rods. Stack ‘em all up, and there are a minimum of 50 rods and reels, and even more when we consider the ice fishing rods. I’m not counting the tip-ups.
Reels. There are reels aplenty, and even more of them than rods. Are these rods and reels expensive? No, they are not custom-made nor are they terribly fancy. They are what they are—workhorses that have seen more than their share of use but they are important to me, and a big house is needed to hold all of this gear.
Waders are important for my river fishing and I have three pairs plus some hip boots. Hats are inexpensive items but important to me because my hat collection numbers more than 300 lids, and there is a fishing or hunting story behind each one. Some stories hold far more importance than others but 10 feet from me is a special hat given to me by some Report All Poacher officers. The story is important to all sportsmen in this state but it’s too lengthy to go into here. It’s a story for another day, but I look at hat daily and remember back in the day when the incident could have been a matter of life and death.
Is it worth a lot of money? The answer is no. It’s just a hat with a few words on it, vastly similar to those hats that promote John Deere, fishing lures, firearms, etc. However, to me the hat is priceless. There are good and bad memories associated with that piece of head gear. I’ll have to tell that story some day.
I’ve got me some fishing and hunting books and magazines. Many can be easily replaced and a few cannot. However, books and magazines have been a major part of my life for the past 42 years, and I can’t imagine a life without books. There is always a fishing or hunting book close at hand and a mystery novel on my night stand/
Locked in an impenetrable safe are the firearms of my life, and like many objects in my life, there are one or more stories behind each one. I have a pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 in .264 Winchester Magnum. I bought it in 1963, and once was involved in reloading. I once had perfected three loads—a 77-grain Norma, a .100-grain Nosler and a 160-grain Hornaday—and all three bullets would shoot to the same point of impact at 100 yards. Now, all these years later, this rifle can still shoot straighter than the guy pulling the trigger can hold it. It’s a memorable firearm.
There is a 3-inch magnum 12 gauge Model 870 that has faced down six wounded black bears with me under difficult conditions. It has taken deer, ducks, geese, wild turkeys and other game. It looks like I’ve used it to beat fence posts into the ground, and it’s still as reliable now as it was more than 40 years ago. I plurged years ago when several magazine checks showed up in the mail box one day, and I bought a Winchester 101 over-under 12 gauge shotgun. The very first two shots from that shotgun produced a double on bobwhite quail. I’ve had other doubles with it but that first one was memorable because I was hunting with the late and great outdoor writer Charlie Elliott on a big plantation in northern Georgia. He was impressed and I was dumbfounded.
I’m surrounded by photographs of my twin brother George, who died Sept. 10, 2003 from cancer. There are photos of good friends with whom I’ve share many a boat seat, and those photos keep me anchored to the memory of them before they fished or hunting their last time. I think of these folks often because, in their own way, they have played an important role in my life. Good friends, like good fishing and hunting equipment, deserve to be remembered for their great and wonderful contribution to me life.
Money and fancy trapping have never been important to me. I made enough to provide for my family in a less-than-extravagant fashion. We’ve lived, we’ve loved, and we’ve lost family members and friends. Through it all, there has been a lifetime love affair with the outdoors, and having acquired so many wonderful memories is one of the most important things in my life.