one who eats, sleeps and breathes the outdoors, I asked myself why do we
do it? If you hunt or fish, your outdoor experiences are usually ones of
hunt, you go out in the worst weather you can imagine on a regular
basis. When the temperature is at its coldest, you can bet that
somewhere, someone is out there hunting. When the temperature is mild,
we are fighting the insects, all of which sting or bite. We hunt when it
is raining because we know the deer still move in the rain. Most fishing
takes place in the summer when, you guessed it, its hot and
"buggy." I won’t even mention the people that ice fish up
again, why do we do it? In the old days, people hunted and fished in bad
weather because they had to hunt to eat and hunger doesn’t care what
the weather is like. Now days we have people that pay money to go to the
Canadian forests to hunt whitetail deer in weather conditions that as an
Alabamian I can’t even imagine. I saw some guys the other day on
television hunting in Alaska and the mosquitoes were almost as large as
the caribou they were hunting. I have seen saltwater fisherman in the
Gulf of Mexico come in burned to a crisp. One thing all these people
have in common is that they all have a smile on their face.
leads me to one conclusion; we do it for the experience and the
memories. I honestly cannot remember what I had for lunch yesterday but
I can remember every detail of the time when I killed my first deer. I
remember the date, what day of the week it was and what the temperature
was. I can take you straight to the spot in Skipperville, Alabama, where
I killed that deer. I remember the time of day and what the woods looked
like on December 3, 1983. I can tell you every single detail of that
day, but I have a hard time remembering to take my blood pressure
medicine every morning.
some older memories from the outdoors that are still just as vivid.
Almost all of them involve my father.
remember going trout fishing with Dad when we lived in Wyoming back in
loved to fish. He grew up in Northwest Florida and went fishing as often
as he could. He would tell us stories of fishing with his mother and his
sure that we went with him when he went fishing. I have made the comment
before that only now can I truly appreciate what an effort it was for
him to take my brother and me fishing with him. With a child of my own I
understand how much trouble it is to get a child out of bed, get them
ready and then having to bait hooks, feed them lunch, keep them occupied
in the shooting house, teach them to cast a lure or shoot a rifle and
answer an endless string of questions from wildlife management to what
kind of person they are going to marry when they grow up.
as I cherish the memories of my own "grown up" experiences in
the field, the ones that are rooted to my heart and soul are the ones I
have from childhood and knowing how dear they are to me makes me try
even harder to include my daughter in my outdoor activities.
give you an example of how these memories can last forever. When I was
about six years old, my dad put a fishing pole in my hand for the first
time. Until then my fishing trips consisted of going at night to the
local city Rose gardens in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on night crawler hunting
expeditions. We didn’t have wigglers in Wyoming. Dad would take us
with him and with flashlights we would walk among the rose beds looking
for worms that had crawled out of the mulch. Then we would go up to Pole
Mountain in the Medicine Bow National Forest near Laramie and fish for
cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Dad would fly fish, my brother would
fish with the worms and mom would tie me to the bumper of the car (there
are photographs to prove it).
years ago, dad decided it was time for me to fish. We went and got our
worms and the next day headed out to Pole Mountain.
fishing pole was quite possibly the only cane pole in the state of
Wyoming. My grandmother brought it with her from Lew Childre’s cane
patch in Foley, Alabama. (I can only imagine the difficulty in hauling
an eight or nine foot fishing pole 2000 plus miles in a car.)
remember dad telling me to get the cane pole the day before so we could
rig it with line, shot, a bobber and a hook.
We got to
the beaver pond and dad placed me on one side and my brother on the
other. He baited my hook and flipped it out in the pond for me. He
handed me the pole and told me to watch the bobber. He then made his way
to the other side to help my brother get fishing but he never made it. I
will never forget the tug of that trout when it hit that worm. It bent
the pole almost in two and I remember calling out that I needed some
help. Dad came back around the pond; never having made it to my brother,
and helped me land the trout. He re-baited my hook and handed me the
pole once again telling me to watch the bobber as he headed back to my
brother. I watched that bobber for about ten seconds when it once again
plunged into the depths of the beaver pond. Once again I called out that
I needed some help. Once again dad interrupted his trip to my brother to
come back and help me land my fish. We had two fish on the stringer and
my poor brother hadn’t even gotten his hook wet.
honestly do not remember whether we caught any more fish on that trip or
not but I remember helping dad clean my fish and asking him thousands of
questions about fish anatomy, fishing in general and many, many other
things. I remember that both fish were female cutthroat trout and they
were full of roe.
fishing trip happened over 40 years ago. No photographs of my fish exist
and my father has passed away but I remember that fishing trip as
vividly as the day it happened. The moral to this story, take your
children with you and you will be building them memories that will last
their lifetimes and possibly longer. Your children will pass on their
memories to their children and grandchildren and then they will get to
know you long after you are gone.
I just wish I could
remember where I put the remote control.
Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.