Friday, August 18, 2017

Focus on What Really Matters

I had a conversation recently with a fellow hunter that left me somewhat frustrated. The conversation started out simple enough, we began sharing hunting stories about this and that. Comparing animals, hunts, locations etc. Then suddenly the conversation began getting - I wouldn't say out of hand, but it became evident that we were on opposite sides of certain issues in the hunting world. 

Trying to find common ground proved difficult until we just stopped talking hunting all together. I do not want to condemn this fellow hunter, each of us are certainly offered the right to an opinion. And without giving him due course, I am going to offer here, my opinion on the topics discussed in hopes it will generate a conversation. 

The conversation turned to hunting turkeys. Something I am very passionate about. I love hunting turkeys. And I consider myself a turkey hunter, not someone who merely hunts turkeys. When we discussed turkeys, I asked if he'd read Col. Tom Kelly's Classic book "The Tenth Legion". His response - "I don't read anything about hunting turkeys, I don't think there is anything anyone can teach me about killing turkeys." If there is one thing I have learned about turkeys, there is always something to learn about killing turkeys. Archibald Rutledge spent his life chasing turkeys and killed several hundred birds, and still he surmised (And I paraphrase) "anyone who thinks they have an understanding of hunting turkeys, has never truly hunted turkeys. Just when you think you have them figured out, they have a way of humbling you into submission." 

But perhaps the most upsetting portion of the conversation revolved around the use of crossbows. I asked his opinion of the fairly new rise in crossbow hunting. his response was, "I don't like it, it puts too many people in the woods."  I have heard a lot of comments on crossbows. Those who love them and those who don't. Usually those who don't is because they are partial to vertical bows. Never have I heard a comment that was so selfish. 

I have always had the belief and opinion that while it may not appeal to me personally, if it promotes the sport, and its legal then I am all for it! We need to do all we can to promote the sport of hunting, how you hunt is your choice. Rifle, bow, muzzleloader, crossbow, atlatl, spear, shotgun, pistol, it really should not matter as long as it is legal and gets people into the woods, it is a good thing. 

When I proposed this line of thinking to this person, that promoting the sport should override any personal inconvenience he seemed to reject that. "I don't want people all in the woods while I am trying to hunt." he said. 

As a hunter who is passionate about the sport. It is my opinion that anything that can get more and more people into the woods is a great thing. None of us have it all figured out. There are certain types of hunting that do not appeal to me, but if it is what get's you into the woods, I will support you all the way. 

I wish more hunters would see that we are a group in the minority. We are practicing a dying sport. We need to stop all of the infighting and stick together to elevate the sport of hunting at all costs. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fly In Fishing

As a young lad growing up, I would walk or ride my bicycle to the local country store and look through the racks of outdoor magazines with amazement and wonder. Color pages of remote destinations. Sheep in Montana, Mule deer in Colorado, Northern pike in Canada. I have dreamed of accomplishing some of these adventures. 

Many seemed and still seem so far away - but hope lingers and pursuit continues. One never knows how a chance encounter can lead to the fulfillment of this dream or that one. A few months ago, one such chance encounter occurred in south Florida. This encounter led to a trip I just returned from with Kashabowie Outposts, in Atikokan, Ontario. 

Fly-in fishing and hunting is as wild as it can get for many. Float planes loaded with gear travel through and across remote wilderness and boreal forest to some hidden lake full of fish waiting for the occasional angler to cast a spoon or other lure into the water. Cast after cast, lines are tight and reels scream. 

Kashabowie Outposts helped me to fulfill this life long dream of fishing in remote places. Places where the silence echos across vast nothingness. A place where the reflection of the lake captures images of soaring eagles and the cry of the loon pierces the silence like a knife slicing through skin. Desperate cries from one loon to another. Each feeling more desperate than the previous. 

Four of us loaded our float plane and taxied across Eva Lake. The 1956 nine cylinder Beaver roared and strained to carry the load of four men who have not known to omit second and third helpings of dinner, along with all of our gear to use for five days in the remote Grew Lake. Gradually, we lift from the water and quickly climb to one thousand feet and move northeast for forty minutes to our destination. 

The horizon is dotted with a landscape of ancient lakes carved by extinct glaciers. Tea stained water fills the lakes and provides a haven for walleye, northern pike and beaver. Loons, a few gulls, and bald eagles visit for a few months before the cold sends them on their way. Gradually the roaring of the engine becomes mundane until I see the pilot adjusting knobs worn bare from fifty years of adjustments. Ahead is our destination, with the ease of a surgeon wielding a scalpel we touch down. Water sprays from the floats before we even felt contact. Drifting to the dock we moor and begin our journey into the wilderness. A warm cabin, fresh mattresses and boats with motor and gas awaits us. 

The week is filled with hours of fishing, telling tales, poker with match sticks and a few libations to top off the tales. None of us had ever caught walleye or northern pike. But before the first day was complete, all of us had scratched our name into the book of anglers who had accomplished the feat at Grew. 

Every day we ate walleye, fried or grilled (admittedly, the fried is far better) every day we caught fish, a lot of fish. Walleye and northern pike dominated the catches. If there are other fish in this lake they avoided us. The catches of walleye and pike together exceeded 250 fish for the five days. Most of us agree that the catch was greater but without solid proof, we are not willing to say. Suffice it to say that our goal of fifty fish a day were greatly exceeded. Walleye in the 23-25 inch that were common the first part of our week ran thin by the middle of the third day. the Fish got smaller and the pike became more plentiful. Twice we hooked trophy pike only to lose the fish before netting them. 

By weeks end we caught around 275 fish, made good friends and spent some time in the wilds of Canada. For more information on how you can also participate in this wonderful experience; contact Carol or Fern at 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Chainsaw Accidents are Not Fun

Like many outdoorsmen, I use a chainsaw a lot. Each year I will cut a few cords of firewood to heat my cabin and to enjoy a fire here in my office. But most of my chainsaw use is for hunting purposes.

Opening up lanes, clearing trail, breaking new trail. Saplings here, saplings there and before you know it, you have spent a day using your saw. Without going into details, chainsaws are as brand specific as many cars. There are people who will only use a Hunsqvarna, others who will only use a Stihl, or Poulan, etc. For me, my most recent purchase was based on two things. It had to be either a Stihl or Husqvarna. It needed a 20" bar or bigger and weigh less than 14 pounds. These requirements were met with the Stihl Farm Boss. It is a great saw, and it cuts excellent.

This leads me to this past Sunday. After spending a few hours cutting firewood. I traveled into a three year old clearcut to remove some standing dead trees. None of which are very big at all. The biggest being about seven to eight inches in diameter. After removing a half dozen I decided to cut one last sapling that was blocking a view of the drainage. As I cut the sapling of about three inches in diameter. It fell towards me. My instinct was to let go of the trigger and catch the sapling. Which I did. In the process, the saw came towards me and in a split second, I felt the cold steel of the chain ripping through my shorts and left leg.

I don't know how to express the fear that goes through your mind when a chainsaw hits your leg. Without looking, I cut the saw off, and immediately applied pressure to the wound. Peeking, is saw it was bleeding, so I applied pressure while I walked towards my truck. I screamed to my brother in law to get a towel and come get the saw.

After getting to the cabin, we washed the wound with cold clean water, poured peroxide into the cut for a while, and cleaned it well. Then applied some butterfly bandages to the wound. It is so jagged that stitches would not do any good at all.

All in all I am very lucky the wound is not worse than it is. Lessons learned. Wear chaps when using a chainsaw. Be careful, be careful, be careful.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Getting Ready for Elk Season

If there were ever anyone who hated exercise more than me, I am not sure I have ever met them. Perhaps it is because they are sitting on a couch somewhere and our paths have not crossed. One year a few years ago, I gave up for lent - exercise. It is one of the few sacrifices that I actually succeeded in throughout the entire Lenten season.  

But I do believe that we are supposed to give up something  as a sacrifice, and for me giving up exercise is no sacrifice. So I suppose that was frowned upon by the church and God himself. Therefore I resolved to make a new years resolution. Like most I seldom make resolutions knowing I will have it broken before the groundhog sees his shadow. But a few years back i made the New Years resolution to - "exercise no more than necessary to sustain life." Outside of breathing and digestion, there was not much more I could do. I even told my doctor this past January during my annual physical that I intended to keep my steps down to below one thousand a day. 

With all of these devices monitoring my steps, I feel intruded on. I do not want to know how much exercise I am doing without actually exercising. Since when did walking count as exercise? Does that mean walking to the bathroom is exercise? What about walking to the refrigerator? Ambling over to the cooler for another 'cold one'? Is that exercise also? If so, count me in! If not - well I am not a fan. 

Sure I like to be in shape, and I tell my children I plan on living another fifty years - (I am 53 now) so that puts me over the century mark by a bit. If I wear myself out now, I will never make it. These bones and muscles have a ways to go, so overdoing it will put me in the shop sooner than I plan. 

Alas, then comes the mail, where inside the mailbox is an envelope with a Colorado elk tag inside. My group drew our tags this year. While many would be excited about this, I am somewhat conflicted. I am excited we drew, I just hoped it would be a few years before I drew so I would have more time to get ready. But I have procrastinated too long as it is. We leave in a mere 10 weeks. For an overweight half-centurion ten weeks is not enough time to prepare. I did this hunt a few years ago and spent six months preparing and was vastly under prepared. Now here I am again, going a month later and just now beginning to prepare. 

Which involves, yes, exercising. After a few trips to the high elevation of the Rockies, I can assure you. Living at an elevation of 800 feet - and hunting at an elevation of 10,000 feet. There is no way to prepare for the change. The first two days will kick your butt. But if I do nothing, the whole trip is a waste of money. Walking for ten plus miles a day at high elevation is difficult when you are prepared. It is impossible if you are not. 

My regimen is simple. I put on the boots I will be hunting in and I begin to walk. I do not walk on the road or trail, I walk on uneven ground through the woods and old logging roads. It is a rough couple of weeks. Getting into elk shape is not easy. But what I do now will pay huge dividends when I get to Colorado. Here is my training plan for the next two and a half months -  numbers equal miles walked per day. 

Week one plain clothes -  5, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 8  
Week two - empty pack -  5, 3, 5, 5, 3, 3,10 
Week three - 20 lb pack - 3, 5, 5, 3, 5, 5,10 
Week four - 30 lb pack -   3, 5, 5, 3, 6, 3,10 
Week five: 20 lb pack -     5, 5, 5, 7, 7, 5,10
Week six  20 lb pack -       5, 7, 7, 8, 8, 5,12 
Week seven: 50 lb pack     3, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 5
Week eight: 20 lb pack -    5, 6, 8, 10, 10, 5, 5
Week nine:  20 lb pack -    5, 5, 8, 5, 10, 5, 5, 
Week ten:  HUNT

This is only if the weather cooperates. Today it is 102, so i will probably walk later and cut it down some to keep from dying. 

Drawing a tag is only one step in the picture of big game hunting. If you cannot get to where the animals are, there is no reason to even go. Send the time to get into shape

Monday, July 10, 2017

Choosing a Scope for a New Rifle

One of the perils of purchasing anew rifle is that now come the expensive decisions on how to add accessories to the rifle. This easily can surpass the actual cost of the rifle.

I recently came into possession of a Weatherby Mark V in .308. I got this for an upcoming elk hunt in Colorado. Having drawn a tag for the first rifle season, I am looking forward to hunting the public ground and trying my hand at an unguided elk during rifle season. However, I need to break in the rifle and I need some optics to mount on it. 

I have a variety of scope brands on top of my rifles. I am not one that is a dedicated brand person when it comes to optics. I try and get the best I can afford at the time. I have never been able to afford, nor do I see anything in the near future that would allow me the opportunity to afford any of the German brands of rifle scopes. I am not sure I could justify spending four times the cost of the gun for the glass. But then again, good glass is worth its weight in gold when you need to make the shot. That being said, I have begun the search for a scope. 

For this mountain hunt, I am considering weight of the scope. As I get older I notice I am paying closer attention to details I did not as a younger man. So while I would normally only look for a 50mm objective, for this scope I am looking for a 40mm objective just to cut down on weight. 

I also want one that is fairly strong with its ability to adjust. Meaning, I want a large adjustment, like from 3x9 or something like a 2.5x10 or even a 4x14. This makes it hard to find. I would compromise on the upper lower end, but not much. Shooting animals in timber requires a low power. I have hunted the west enough to know that shots are just as likely at thirty yards as at 400. Therefore I need a scope that will do both. 

Some research has shown that to fit my budget and my requirements, I am looking at one of three different brands. Vortex, Nikon or Leupold. Lets look at them individually to see where we are. 

First Vortex; The Vortex DBK412B is a great value and may be the best value of the ones we are looking at for this gun. The 4x12x40 fits all of the parameters and is within my budget. The one inch tube is find and cuts down some of the weight as well. Having used Vortex in the past I know this is good glass and can be a great scope. The one thing I do not care for is the objective focus. I do not like having to twist on the end of my scope. I prefer it on the side of the scope. Plus it comes in at 19.2 ounces way too heavy for my mountain rifle. 

This leads me to the Vortex DBK-04-BDC 4x12x40 may just be the ticket. Coming in at a full two ounces lighter than the previous one, this is now moving to the top of the list. Remember we have not added the weight of the mounts and rings. 

Now the Nikon 16328 - P308 is a great value for the scope, and it is a 4x12x40 but it comes in at a whopping 17.3 ounces. 

The Nikon 6736 Prostaff 5 is a better choice since it is almost three ounces lighter and still carries the magnification adjustment I am seeking. the 2.5x10 gives me a better lower end and that helps in dark timber.

On to Leupold -  the Leupold 114404 VX-2 is the lightest of the ones researched. weighing a mere 12 ounces, this featherweight is one to strongly consider. For a reliable 3x9x40 scope, this Leupold may just be the ticket. Understanding the limitations of the scope. But still being able to maximize the weight limits. By the time I add bases and rings, I am at one pound extra. 

Selecting a scope for a mountain hunt is different than selecting one for hunting out of a box blind. In the blind, you are carrying your gun a few yards. In a mountain hunt, I will be carrying my gun miles and miles at high elevation for days on end. Every ounce matters. But in the end, you still have to have good glass so you can see your target at the moment of truth. There are other brands that may be cheaper, and perhaps lighter, but to get good glass that is also light and affordable, that is the key question. 

It looks like I will be ordering the Leupold 11404 VX-2 and the fact that is comes in Matte black is a bonus. It should really make my stainless action and barrel pop and produce a fine looking lightweight gun. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Outdoor TV Personality Pleads Guilty to Wildlife Violation

Unless you live in a vacuum, you have probably heard the news of another outdoor television personality being convicted of a wildlife crime. This time it is Bill Busbice Jr. Co-founder of Wildgame Innovations and co-host of the television show Wildgame Nation carried on the Outdoor Channel.

Outdoor Hub and many other outlets carried the news when it broke earlier this week. Here is a link to the whole story. In short, Busbice was hunting on his ranch in Wyoming for his television show. He had with him a camera man who captured the entire event on film and audio. The crime was also witnessed by two other anonymous hunters who reported the crime.

Busbice is charged with shooting a cow elk, and leaving it to rot. He was shooting at a trophy bull elk, and in the process shot the cow. But continued shooting at the bull until he finally killed it. Then Busbice instructed his ranch manager to drag the cow to an irrigation ditch to hide the kill and to hide the intestines of the bull. He was sentenced to 1.5 years of "unsupervised probation" which I really do not know what that is. and ordered to pay a fine of $23,000. He also lost his hunting and fishing privileges for 2 years which is reciprocal in 45 additional states including his home state of Louisiana. It is important to note that earlier in 2016, Busbice was cited in Wyoming for purchasing a resident tag as a nonresident and also purchasing more than the legal allowed number of deer tags.

As the news broke, Outdoor Channel sent out a statement that can be read here, but says basically, they are severing all ties with Busbice, his brand and his TV show will be removed immediately.

Now for my take on the whole mess.

Personally I have never been a fan of Busbice's show. It has always appeared to me that he comes across as someone that is far more concerned with killing stuff than about promoting the lifestyle of hunting. His arrogance and "better than you" attitude exudes through the screen. I believe this is even noted in his response to the whole incident where he apologized for not tagging the cow elk. But makes no mention of the wanton waste of leaving the cow to rot. He makes no mention of his ordering his ranch manager to dispose of the cow or the mess he put this man in. He makes no mention of his stating on audio the need to delete the portion of the killing of the cow. He makes no mention of the ethical dilemma he placed on his camera man.  In short, had this event not been witnessed by other hunters, Busbice would have gotten away with this crime. And he would have no remorse for his actions. His remorse is in being caught. His remorse is in loosing his sponsorship's, and his TV show. Which leads to the obvious question, what else has he done that was not witnessed? How many other wildlife crimes were committed to make his TV show? How many other animals were laid waste by his arrogance?

The hunting industry needs to come down hard on the likes of Bill Busbice Jr. In an age when hunting is loosing membership, when recruitment of the younger generation is as difficult as it has ever been. The hunting industry needs to speak loudly against this type of action and as the old saying goes, "remove the cancer before it spreads."

His actions not only place doubt in the mind of many about him, his company and family. It also places doubt on the entire industry. How many other TV personalities have done similar for the chance of getting good footage? How many other TV personalities have killed over the limit, have bought the wrong tag, shot the wrong animal, etc and not corrected it?

A few months ago another TV personality was convicted for killing a turkey under the wrong license. As soon as it was brought to his attention, he immediately corrected the situation. Paid the fine and he brought it to the attention of his fans. We all know mistakes can happen. Especially in the maze of getting a  hunting license in different states. Which license covers what. For example, my home state is the only one in the nation where a big game permit is required to hunt turkeys. If you are hunting here from another state, most people would never think of a turkey as a big game. Its a bird for crying out loud. Why would you need a big game permit to hunt a bird? But you do. So we understand mistakes can happen. We do understand poaching. Poaching is not a mistake, it is intentional. We do not understand wanton waste. Wanton waste is not a mistake, it is intentional. We do not understand disposing of a cow elk in an irrigation ditch. We do not understand lying about your resident status to get a tag. These things we do not understand.

If Bill Busbice Jr. is really the upstanding man he claims to be, he would issue another statement that says he made a series of decisions that led to his dismissal. He takes full responsibility and because of the damage done to his brand, himself, his family and the Outdoor Channel, he will remove himself permanently from any role within Wildgame Innovations and Wildgame Nation from any future programming. In essence he needs to step down and sever all ties with the brand he created.

I never wish ill will on anyone. I do not smile when others are hurting. I am not smiling now. Truth be told, I am very sad. I am sad for the Busbice family. I am sad for the Outdoor Channel, and for the hunting industry. I am sad for the image it brings to all hunters. But I am not sad for Bill Busbice. He made these decisions and now he must live with the consequences of those decisions. I pray that he find peace and use this opportunity to teach others about the downfall of poaching.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Mind of a Mature Buck

This past weekend I was awarded a Pinnacle award from the Professional Outdoor Media Association for a story I wrote. Several people have asked that I post the story. Here is the story that won the award.

The Mind of A Mature Buck

            Over the past thirty five years or so, I have spent an inordinate amount of time tromping and plodding through forest and fields chasing mature whitetail bucks. Thousands of hours studying maps, analyzing weather patterns and wind currents. Dozens of pairs of boots worn thin scouting, tracing routs, marking rub lines and scrapes. Locating bedding areas, feeding paths, cutover hideouts, staging areas and all to sit in a tree in a well thought out location to see……..well nothing.
            Mind you, I have had a fair amount of success. Some would say, I have had my fair share of success since I only hunt a small piece of ground locally. But if truth be known, the majority of my time spent looking for a mature buck is passed by admiring does, ‘want-to-be’ bucks and of course the array of small game that seems to appear in biblical proportions during a deer hunt along an acorn ridge. Through all of this idle time of sitting, looking and thinking, I believe I have come to realize just how an old buck thinks. And this could actually be the game changer I have sought for so long.
            It has become evident that old bucks are really not that different from old hunters. Especially when it comes to the way they see the world around them. Old bucks are solitary creatures for most of the year. They like to get away from all of the noise, all of the confusion. Their lifestyle is not one of isolation, as it is one of independence and of all things, irony. I believe that the old buck likes to get away and think about things. To spend time on his ridge, looking over his territory and marvel at how his world has changed around him. The girls he has chased for years and the ones that got away. He lays and ponders his territory. “Will I walk the creek line today, or just stay close to home?” He thinks to himself. If the temperature is too cold, perhaps he will just take it easy so his old bones and joints won’t have to work quite so hard against the bitterness. Or when it rains, he decides to wait it out to keep from getting wetter than he already is.
            I can remember clearly one frosty November morning, back when Novembers were cold. Trying to ease into an afternoon stand early and enjoy the warming thermals. I was too late, the old boy had beaten me there. As I moved along the ridge, there he lay, beside the old blowdown just watching me. Hoping I wouldn’t see him and he could just let me pass him by so he too could just enjoy the warming of the day. Our eyes met at a mere twenty yards. He blew out of there like a boy late for a prom date and I just stood marveling at his grandeur. It was then that I started to understand that these old bucks are really not that different from me.
            As the weather begins to turn, and the oppressive heat of long summer days wane. The winter solstice approaching, he starts to feel young again. Just as October invigorates my soul, so too the mature buck. The cool air reminds him of days long gone when he could prowl for days on end looking for love. Days when one girl wasn’t enough, he needed more to make some jealous or to show off to the rest of the boys. The cool air invites him to parade his territory again, rubbing his growing antlers against the same trees as before. Making an exclamation point to all new comers that he is still here and very much alive. From time to time he will clean out a patch of ground beneath a licking branch along a forgotten field or logging road and say to all who pass by “this is mine!”
            But as his days increase, his ability to love decrease. His desire is there for sure, but the passion is gone. He now dreads the cold that is to come. So he eats even when he isn’t hungry because he knows. He knows what those half his senior could care less about. Winter is long, food is scarce and love is fleeting. So while he sneaks in a moment of romance for a brief period, his main concern is survival. His genes have been passed for several years, his work there is done. Now, just as a grandfather teaches his grandchildren different lessons than he taught his children. The old buck passes along lessons of longevity to other generations. Without knowing it, young bucks learn that the wisteria thicket is safe because that is where he lives. The impenetrable vines hold refuge, comfort and protection. They know this because this is where he determined years ago was the best place to be. From here, he can see every truck that enters the property and sneak away or lay still as he’s done hundreds of times before. He knows the knob near the creek is safe because the wind always swirls and prevents anything from approaching undetected.
            He’s learned that as his night grows longer and the mercury seldom climbs to freezing that the most important thing is food. The girls he sought for so long are gone, taking his heart and his genes. So he sleeps near where he eats. Saving energy from traveling great distances from one to the other for more important tasks.
            He’s seen a lot through his life. Great pine stands erased for cash then restored to provide a home for his children. Loosing friends who made poor decisions. Teenage romances that never ended well. He’s seen those who chose to play hard and love hard only to return to see their empty beds. He’s watched as mothers stood helpless as their young died way too soon. He’s worked hard and for a long time, and now just wants to rest in peace. To spend a few more cool autumns on his ridge and watch the bounding of children as they romp through meadows. He longs for days when his mere presence brought a sense of awe to the forest. But for now, he passes his days with the pleasure he finds in himself, knowing all too well these fresh springs are fleeting. That summer is coming with its hordes of bugs, sweltering heat and plentiful food. He knows water will be scarce, predators abundant and he knows the necessity of protecting what is rightfully his.
            Yes, I sat there in my tree stand and I watched as the old man, seeming to have let his guard down, or perhaps had a momentary lapse in judgement but more likely was moving slower than he should. I watched as his old weathered body struggled to walk down the steep ridge. One shaky foot in front of another, not really trusting himself. At the bottom of the ridge he pauses. At first I thought it was to catch his breath. His panting was obvious as the mist from his mouth poured into the morning air. Then I realized, he is not catching his breath, he’s admiring. He looks around his creek bottom soaking it all in for what could be his last time, Suddenly in what seemed to be a moment transfixed by time. He turned his head and as matter of fact as it could be, he looked straight into my eyes. One old man looking at another. When we locked eyes I did not see fear, I did not see trepidation or anxiety. I saw an old man wanting one more time to stroll through his creek bottom on his way home after a long night.
            It never crossed my mind to raise my rifle. This is the old buck that had filled my dreams. The one that caused so many sleepless nights, thousands of hours and dollars of my time and money. And there he stood, thirty yards away. His grey muzzle revealing what I had already known. This was an old buck. His eyes had seen so much. He seemed to know when he looked at me that I would understand. But also did not care if I didn’t. He was determined he was going home, on his time and at his pace. So he turned ever so slightly and wandered through the open hardwoods, passing by me at fifteen yards. Each labored step was methodical and glorious. I sat and watched as he drifted out of sight along the ridge that he called home.
            As I sat there, taking it all in, it dawned on me, that indeed we are not that much different at all. Now I am on the home stretch of my life in the out of doors. I am still not that old, but enough to realize that these moments are precious. So I savor each day, each moment and I hold onto them with vigor. I do not regret at all not raising my rifle. On the contrary, I cherish the moment greater than any trophy. A moment when two old men met in the woods. Looked at one another and understood that for now, that was enough.
            No the old buck is not that different from us at all. As our hair starts to turn, and our muscles begin to ache at the slightest of movements. We savor each day, and pray there is another day coming where we can again feel the freshness of cool autumn mornings.