I am writing this in response to your page-9 article entitled “The Drive” in the December 2016 issue of TF&G.
Your article resonated with me due a couple of factors. One is that I, too, recently lost my elderly father so I can relate to the roller-coaster of emotions that sort of event thrusts upon a son. And I am truly sorry for your loss. But the thing that really struck a chord with me in your article was losing a hunting buddy.
It was a few years back, and I lost my two best friends and hunting companions within a twelve-month span. One due to a heart attack and the other in an auto accident. It was devastating to me as not only were these two of my co-workers, but they were also best friends who I had shared campfires with over our years of deer hunting together. I felt lost and it scared me … a lot … because I soon lost the desire to hunt.
How could it ever be the same or how could I even begin to enjoy it again? But although I had lost the desire and admittedly it took me a while to realize this, I never lost the passion for it. Some time passed and eventually I dusted off my bow and eased back into woods and brush knowing that they were both there with me. I found myself talking to them quite often while immersed in the quiet solitude one experiences in the field.
They, like your dad, live on in our hearts and memories. Take him with you, and keep the fire burning. He wouldn’t want it any other way because dads want to see their children happy.
I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with you and your dad at a CCA meeting of The Woodlands chapter about a year ago. Now that interaction seems to carry a bit more value for me than just a simple handshake and “how do you do.” And for that I am thankful.
Thanks for the story.
I read “The Drive” on December 1, 2016, one year to the day my father and hunting companion died from a heart attack in his sleep at home in West Monroe, LA.
My Dad, too, loved hunting, especially deer, and made a couple of trips per year to South Texas to hunt with me. The last few years I spent more time quail hunting, but when he was around we’d sit in the blind watching deer. My “drive” was from New Braunfels to West Monroe on 12/1/2015, after he passed. I understand what you wrote about.
I was lucky enough to be with my Dad the week of Thanksgiving 2015, just prior to his passing. He was recovering from a surgery and missed our annual November trip to the Texas lease, but we had a trip planned for the second week of December.
While I was in Louisiana visiting, he had me “help” him get a huge sow out of one of his traps at his Louisiana lease, kill and clean her. He wanted some sausage made.
I returned to Texas the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and he took one of his grandsons to the Louisiana lease the next day, Sunday, and killed a nice buck to go with the sow for the sausage. On Monday 11/30/15 he took the sow and deer to the processor. Upon returning home in the afternoon he sat in his recliner, not feeling well, and never woke up.
We had a nice buck picked out for him to shoot in Webb County. He wanted a nice wide south Texas buck. On 12/13/15 I killed his buck with his gun. I know that is what he wanted me to do. The buck now hangs in my living room.
I did not renew the Webb county lease. Hunting without him would not be the same.
I joined another lease this year, but have yet to sit and hunt. I’m planning to go on the second week of December and again will be hunting with Dad’s gun. Maybe he will guide a good deer my way once again.
Many of the sentiments you expressed in your article are ones I have experienced as well, and I wrote the following words to capture them. I shared them with family members as we gathered to say goodbye to my brother, Paul Batchelder (author of two TF&G-published books, “101 Kayak Launching Points” and “Where Can I Fish?”).
“I could write for hours about Paul, He was my best friend and mentor. He was the best man at my wedding. He was my big brother. He was a teacher and a leader. I am blessed to have known him and to have spent so many meaningful hours together.
“Whether we were playing tag in our backyard, flying kites, or fishing for perch and rock bass along the rocky shores of Lake Champlain, we always seemed to be doing it together. We had our share of fights but shared a room until high school and had to work out our differences by the end of each day. We worked together and confided to each other about all the things teenage boys care about – girls, cars, and what the future held for each of us. Paul’s college career didn’t last long but he encouraged me to finish even when I was ready to quit.
“Paul enjoyed fishing nearly as much as I do. He taught me how to tie a ‘fisherman’s knot’ and introduced me to all the latest lures. He taught me how to catch bass with the Big Green (senko) Worm, how to work a crankbait and when to throw a buzzbait.
“We fished in Lake Champlain, McNab Lake, Lake Estes, and Evans Lake. We fished in Mud Creek, Snake Creek, and Daniels Creek. We fished many rivers like the Missisquoi, the Big Thompson, the Little Red, the Provo, the Green, the Texas Colorado, and the East Fork of the San Jacinto. We fished Turtle Bay, Palacios Bay, Galveston Bay, and Baffin Bay. We fished Aransas Pass, San Luis Pass and some passes I’m not supposed to disclose. I will miss our fishing trips together.”
I don’t know how well you got to know Paul, who passed away last August, but I wanted to share this with you and to let you know that I will be praying that our Heavenly Father will give you peace and comfort as you think about your dad.
EDITOR: Gentlemen, thank you so much for your kind words. John your note about Paul was very moving. Thank you all for the response to what was a very personal article that I felt others needed to hear.
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