Remembering my grandfathers today
I know the guys from Leatherwood Outdoors are on this site as well, so after seeing one of their Facebook posts earlier it felt like the time to reminisce a bit. It was a blog post about a son who wanted to get one last deer to show his mother who was suffering with cancer. I read the post with tears streaming down my face as I remembered my grandfathers who both took a great interest in my hunting when I was younger.
My grandfather on my mother's side was in poor health for most of the years I knew him. I was only ever able to accompany him on two hunting trips; his great love was hunting squirrels. I think, like me, he found it difficult to be patient enough to be very successful hunting deer, and for other small game it was difficult for him to get around. One of the hunts took place when I was too young to really remember, but the other was not too far from his house and I remember sitting in the woods with him, being impatient as small children will do, waiting on the squirrels. While we didn't get any squirrels that day, I remember it fondly. The thing I remember most was that at the end of each hunting day during deer season, he would call our house and ask to talk to me about my day in the woods. He was always hoping for a safe, successful hunt for us and he loved to hear stories about the woods. As I said in the reply to the blog post, I often found these phone calls frustrating as I had just come in from a long, tiring day. It wasn't until the first year that the calls didn't come that I realized how much they meant to me and how much I would miss them in the future.
My dad's father was, like me, an avid rabbit hunter. He had dogs for as long as I can remember, but my grandmother's health needs started to take precedence as I came into the age to start hunting. I had more opportunities to hunt with him, but still I wish I could have spent more time afield learning from his great knowledge of the sport. Some of the best memories I have of him are days spent cutting his grass, then sitting on his porch talking of beagles, bunnies, and our love of hearing the dogs sounding off on a trail. He left us in 2016 and still I miss those times with him. I ended up moving into his house with my wife and our beagle, and now we own three dogs who all live for the chase. I like to imagine that he would be happy that I continue to pursue the sport he held so dear.
Even though they are both gone, I still feel their presence every time I pick up my rifle to go hunt squirrels or load the dogs in the car to find some small patch to run cottontails. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to continue the traditions they loved, and I know that a big part of me continues to pursue the sport because of the fond memories they made with me over the years. As time goes on I know that hunting partners will come and go (both humans and beagles) but I also know that each one will leave a part of them behind that will go with me every time I go out to the woods. I hope someday my son looks back and remembers the time he spends afield with his grandfather and his father, and continues to love this sport because we showed him the great spirit of community and tradition that exists within the hunting community as men like my grandfathers did for me.
A bad day hunting rabbits beats a good day of anything else!