Fall is one of my favorite times of the year and it is also one of the busiest. October marks the start of hunting season, something I have looked forward to every year since I was a little kid. I remember my first outing with my dad when I was eight- or nine-years-old and how fun it was to be out in the woods walking around with him.
Over the years I have heard many folks say things like, “I can’t believe you go out there and hunt Bambi like that.” Believe me when I say that was the nicest thing I have heard said about hunting. I think it is important to understand that hunting is not always “catching.” If I based my decision to spend money on gas and food, drive 200 miles over to central Oregon and hike 10 miles a day, my success rate simply would not justify my investment. So there has to be more to it, right?
First of all, I think it is important to understand that as a kid, I was not gifted with an athletic mind or build. My dad’s attempts at cultivating a little league player really didn’t pan out for him. However, for what I lacked in athleticism, I more than made up for with a keen eye and a stealthy gait. I could hit a bullseye at 150 yards just about every time.
Over the past 40 years, I have been my dad’s fishing and hunting buddy. It is the level on which we both connect, our common ground if you will and we are bound by all of those memories we share. I never get enough of the stories about my grandparents and the funny things that happened on hunting trips when my dad was a boy. I have probably learned more about my family on these trips than any other time during the year.
In the fall of 2013 we said our final goodbyes to my grandpa who was almost always with us on our trips. He passed away peacefully due to pneumonia after coming home from elk hunting that year. The following fall, we burned his boots in the campfire in honor of him and I looked over to see just a single tear in my dad’s eye. No one said a word for a very long moment, we just watched as his boots became ash.
This year, we welcomed a new hunter to camp, my two-year-old grandson. Watching him run around the camp kicking pine cones and chasing after chipmunks reminded me a lot of his mom when she was his age. My daughter called me about three weeks before the start of the season to tell me she had already started packing. Was somebody a little excited for deer season? I definitely think so! All three of my kids have hunted with us since they were little and even though they are spread out with families of their own, they still come home for that special time together each year.
This brings me around to my point. I often come home empty-handed, to the point that my wife says she isn’t letting me go next year and would rather invest in a grass-fed side of beef. But the experiences I do come home with can never be replaced. It is much the same way I feel about our folks here at the center and their daily social experiences. When I watch them having lunch and sharing their memories with one another it takes me back to all of those times I have sat around the campfire sharing moments with the ones I love.
Every month, The BOB will bring you information on current events and items of interest here at the center. See you next month!