Where I Come From
Hunting and fishing is a tradition in my family and it’s always been a part my life. It’s nothing I was forced into; I actually took a short leave of absence from hunting in my high school years, but like the prodigal son, I returned. My dad still tells stories of the days when he’d climb into a tree stand with me on his shoulders. I was brought up hunting, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors for what it was – simple, wild, and pure.
My Pop-pop (grandfather) has always been a farmer. It was on his land that I got my start as a hunter with my dad. I shot my first deer, a scrubby little 5 pointer, out of the Jimmy Stand with my dad when I was 12 or 13 on that farm. Every year during deer season, family and friends would come down to hunt for days and weeks at a time at TW’s Tall Tail Motel. We had kitchen in the shelter out back, a 3 bed camper trailer, and a shower with no hot water. There were no trophy hunters in this crowd. We hunted for meat, not antlers. We had burgers, kabobs, sausage, roasts, barbecue, chili…we ate a lot of deer meat. Don’t get me wrong, a big set of antlers was always welcome and allowed for some bragging rights, but they weren’t all we were after.
My grandaddy was always my fishing buddy, thought he hunted too. I couldn’t tell you how many times my grandaddy, my dad, and I woke up and took off to Mattamuskeet. We’d always hit the canals 20 miles beyond the lake to catch our bait before stopping our favorite culpitt (culvert for you english speakers out there). We’d stay from morning until evening whether the fish were biting or not. Even now, my dad and I still head down there with the same routine. My grandaddy’s gone now, but I still think of the time we caught all those white perch beside the lighthouse every time I pass by it.
Now, don’t think that it’s just the fellas that enjoyed the outdoors. Family has always been a huge part of my outdoor experience. That includes my mom, sister, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
As I’ve matured and become more of a outdoorsman in my own right, I’ve developed my own ideas and reasons that I enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.
Preparedness is the reason we have pockets. I like to have access to the tools that I may need, and the skills needed to use them. I wrote a post a while back called Pocket Vomit: My Daily Carry. It covers the things I have on my person pretty much all the time. I know you can’t be prepared for every situation, but why not use the pocket space?
Preparation isn’t just about the gear you carry or have on hand. It’s also about the skills you have learned and developed, which brings me to my next point.
As an outdoorsman I know that I have means of providing for myself, and for those close to me. It means a lot to me to know that if ever a time comes that we as a people cannot rely on each other to provide what we need to survive, that I can provide for myself the essentials of life.
My dad used to tell me, “One day, a man who used to be ‘rich’ might ask you to teach him how to catch a fish so he’ll have something to eat.” Those words are like scripture to me. I hope we never see the day when we have to rely solely on wits as hunters and fishermen to survive, but it’s that mentality drives me to make decisions and think for myself instead of going along with what others tell me, and always work to improve my skills. It’s that idea that pushes me to be more reliant on myself than on others.
The outdoor lifestyle is best shared with others. I learned from my father as he learned from his. Every hunting season is shared with my family and friends. Our experiences together hunting and fishing are some of the best memories I have. Today I enjoy setting up the tents for deer camp, cooking over the fire, and being in the company of family and friends.
Breaking the monotony
It’s so easy to get stuck in the day to day routine. Work, family life, feeding the dog, all the tasks of day to day living can blur the weeks together if you let them. Taking the time to enjoy the outdoors helps me break free of the day to day routine. Being in the woods and on the water reminds me of the broader scope of things – that there is more to life on the outside (pun intended).’
I have this drive to spend time in the trees or on the water. Maybe it’s the grandeur of it all, or maybe it’s the fresh air. Call me crazy, but there are nights when I’d rather be sleeping outside under the stars than in my bed, and I couldn’t tell you how many days I’ve wished to take my office work outside just to enjoy breeze. Whatever it is about being out there, I like it, and I enjoy sharing it with people.
Here are a few photos of years gone by. I wish there were more.