Typically, my stories involve tips for putting more fish in the boat, or an occasional hunting adventure recap. A couple recent outdoor experiences have me thinking on a bit deeper, or at least more philosophical, level.
In very late October, a partner and I filmed a smallmouth bass fishing television show. During that shoot, my fishing wasn't "clean" as we like to say, missing several hooksets and losing a couple big fish near the net. The following day, I went back to the same lake.
Knowing the weather was about to change and realizing that the open-water season might end any day, I wanted to end my season with a better taste in my mouth. I missed the first bite, but then successfully landed the next eight or so fish that bit.
An otherwise cloudy day became sunny and the wind died as evening approached. I had time to catch another fish or two. However, I was somewhat overcome by the calming conditions, so I set my rod down, folded my arms, and took it all in.
The fresh brisk air, gentle waves lapping on the bow, and a brilliant approaching fall sunset made for an awesome outdoor setting. I decided enough was enough. This would be the perfect ending to my open-water season.
On the boat ride back to the access, I felt thankful for a great season on the water, and because I'm well into middle-age now, I also felt a tinge of regret for another season past and hopeful that next spring I'll be fortunate to start another.
I shifted my outdoor gears a couple days later, heading to a small CRP field near my home that I have access to pheasant hunt. My lab, Bailey, and I were fortunate on a 45-minute hunt to bag a couple birds.
The next evening we hoped to duplicate our success. Bailey, in her ninth year, was eager to get back in the truck when she saw the shotgun. However, she tired quickly on this day, and for the first time, I also noticed a stiffer gait and slower pace.
We cut the hunt short, and on the way back to the truck, I came to the full realization that Bailey and I probably have many more hunts in our rear-view mirror now than ahead.
These two recent outdoor experiences have me thinking more and more about my two mentors in the outdoors-my grandpa and my dad.
Grandpa and I shared a mutual love for whitetail deer hunting and spent many, many days together on the wide-open prairies of central North Dakota. Grandpa's health declined rather quickly, however, and he entered a nursing home several years ago, passing a few years later.
During the time grandpa and I spent hunting together, my youthful ignorance had me feeling those times would last forever. In retrospect, it seems those times passed in the blink of an eye. I miss him and those times greatly.
My Dad and I were also hunting buddies throughout my youth and into adulthood, sharing time chasing whitetail bucks, ducks and pheasants. Well into his eighth decade now, dad is no longer able to spend time afield.
Though I end most days spent outside over the phone relaying the day's activities to him, those phone recaps still aren't the same. My youthful ignorance of the past again had me thinking that my times with dad outside would last forever, or at least for what seemed like forever. Looking back now, however, it feels those times passed in the blink of an eye, too.
Former first lady Barbara Bush advised future generations to "cherish your human connections." Simple, yet powerful advice! When it comes to the outdoors, I'll add the following to Mrs. Bush's wisdom "and cherish times spent outdoors with those humans!" Because, those times pass in the blink of an eye.
As always, enjoy your time outdoors and remember to include a youngster in those adventures!