Thursday, November 12, 2009

11.14.09 Daddy's Outdoor Education Academy

At least once per year I knock the dust off my well-worn copy of The Old Man and the Boy and read Robert Ruark's wonderful novel centered around the life of a young boy growing up in rural North Carolina. In Ruark's work, the boy's grandfather, or "old man," takes him under his wing, teaching him everything from marksmanship to ethics.
Just four pages into the book is this great quote. "The thing I like best about the Old Man is that he's willing to talk about what he knows, and he never talks down to a kid, which is me, who wants to know things. When you are as old as the Old Man, you know a lot of things that you forget you ever know, because they've been a part of you for so long. You forget that a young'un hasn't had a start on the world as you did, and you don't bother to spread information around. You forget that other people might be curious about what you already knew and forgot." With impeccable insight Ruark points out what's lacking in modern society...mentorship.
Last month as I was reading The Old Man for what was probably the tenth time, it occurred to me that without his grandfather's "investment" in his life, the young man would have been clueless in many ways, including but not limited to his prowess afield.
I also got to thinking about the things I want my boys, and girl, to learn as they progress through Daddy's Outdoor Education Academy. Here are ten of those things:
  1. Sporting etiquette & safety.
  2. The proper way to sharpen a knife or broadheads.
  3. Sighting in a rifle or bow.
  4. Field dressing game and cleaning fish.
  5. Starting and subsequently cooking over a fire.
  6. Reloading ammo and fletching arrows.
  7. Casting with a fly rod, tying simple flies.
  8. Cleaning a firearm.
  9. Throwing a casting net.
  10. Truck, ATV, boat, etc. maintenance.
Of course these things are merely a portion of the vast array of necessary knowledge and they pale in comparison to the most important thing I can teach them...about God. Here are some great Scriptures that point to the necessity of this type of training:
  • Deuteronomy 6:5-7 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children."
  • Psalm 71:18 "Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come."
  • Psalm 78:4 "We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders he has done."
  • Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
  • Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

7.17.09 Eli's Catch

My nephew, Eli, caught this great red fish out of the surf at Emerald Isle. He caught his first saltwater fish, a sand shark, earlier this morning which was subsequently cut up for bait. This beautiful drum, all 26" of him, gave Eli a big fight but was no match for the 6th grader's angling prowess. This smile says it all. Way to go Eli!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

7.02.09 Kentucky Creekage

It happens every time I go to Kentucky. We pack the car, sorry mini van, so full of stuff that there isn't room for any outdoor gear. This time as we crammed bags into the miniscule cargo area, I briefly considered leaving one of the kids at home to allow room for a fishing rod or two but quickly reconsidered. Maybe next time.
Little did I know that my brother-in-law, David, and nephew, Ethan, had recently taken up fishing. So this afternoon, while the girls were out shopping, Ethan and I grabbed a couple rods and headed to a river running adjacent to their neighborhood. We had a great time and had several bites but just couldn't quite connect on the small mouth or bream that hit our lures.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5.26.09 Sportsmen for Christ Campfire Meeting

I had the great pleasure of attending a Sportsmen for Christ Campfire meeting tonight at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point. My friend, Jeff Wilkins, was the featured guests and he did an excellent job sharing about his experience as a flyfishing guide and fly tying instructor. With tips on equipment, reading the water, fly selection and many other topics there was something for just about everyone.
Jeff also retold the griping account of an automobile accident a year and a half ago that nearly killed him. While returning from a casting instruction session at High Rock a car had pulled out of a driveway on Hwy 109 and crashed deadon into Jeff's truck causing severe spinal injuries.
God has had His hand on Jeff's recovery, provided for his family's needs and has turned terrible ordeal into something positive as only a loving Father can do. I was reminded great verse from Romans 10:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who lGod working in our lives it's often in ove him, who have been called according to his purpose."
It also got me to thinking about how when we talk about God working in our lives it is usually in the past tense. The truth is, however, that while He has worked in our lives in the past He continues to do so today, constantly molding, shaping, protecting and making provision. He's not aloof, uninterested or uninvolved. He is a loving Father, intricately involved in working the best in our lives. What an awesome thought!
I left the meeting greatly encouraged in my spiritual walk and looking forward to wetting a flyline. An excellent combination!

Friday, May 8, 2009

5.07.09 Roanoake Rapids Striper Quest

On Wednesday my two oldest boys, Si and Zane, and I headed over to Weldon for a little striper fishing. We stayed at the Days Inn to give it more of an "away" feel (and so daddy didn't have to get them up at 2:30am to be at the ramp by 6). Words cannot express how excited they were to not only go fishing but also to get to skip school to go fishing. Is there really such a thing as a truancy officer?
A friend, Dick Jones, and his new best friend, Larry, a beautiful fox color Labrador retriever, were our hosts for the day. Although rainy weather was on the forecast (we did get sprinkled on a couple times) it was a perfect day on the water. Between the four anglers we caught 40-50 fish and the boys had a blast. I am so grateful for folks like Dick that take my boys and I on these adventures. I hope they will always remember these days in the outdoor with dad. I'm sure I will.

Monday, April 27, 2009

4.25.09 Oxford Children's Home Fishing Tournament

If I had to choose between a beautiful sunrise and the smile on a child's face the decision would not come easily. On Saturday, at the 4th Annual Oxford Children Home Fishing Tournament, I experienced both and there are fewer things in this world that compare.
Mike and Paris Routh did another excellent job and had the most participants, largest number of volunteers and highest amount of donations thus far. Below are some pictures of the day. The 5th Annual Tournament is on slate for April of next year. To get involved sent me an email! You'll be blessed and that's a guarantee!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4.08.09 Tennessee Turkey Trek III

He gobbled and Rusty and I looked at each other in disbelief. A big ole gobbler was strutting fifteen yards behind us and neither of us had any clue how he got there. "He's a big bird but make sure he has a nice beard!" Rusty hissed beneath his breath. The landowner had given instructions to only shoot mature birds. I could only make out the outline of the bird as he was obscured by several small trees. After another gobble he eased over to me and I was able to tell he was in fact "mature". I eased the barrel of my Super Nova out through one of the windows, lined up the red fiber optic site on the tom's head and squeezed the trigger. A tremendous BOOM echoed across the country side, shaking the blind. I blinked and strained my eyes hoping to see the turkey laying in the grass....
In the predawn darkness, all three of us had crammed into Rusty's Double Bull blind. It was cool, really cool for April, but I had layered Zane up and had already stoked his inner fired with a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and some hot chocolate. I was hopeful he would make it through the morning without being too cold. Rusty had situated the blind in the heart of a funnel where two meadows, a couple strips of hardwoods and a small stream came to a point. If birds were moving through the area there was a great possibility that they would come right by us. The Double Bull comes equipped with windows that spans 360 degrees and we were going to need it. There was a possibility that turkeys could come from just about every direction.
We settled in to wait, keen vigilance versus intense exhaustion. After thirty minutes a lone bird crossed the field directly in front of us, 150 yards away. It was a huge tom but our calls did nothing to pursuade him to come our way, he had other places to be. Ten minutes later two more turkeys, which looked to be hens, followed an identical path. We waited and although he got a little bit restless, Zane was very patient. Around 8 o'clock we heard a gobble and then another coming from the woods, about a hundred or so yards off. Rusty and I both yelped a little and then put away our calls. All six eyes were peering in the direction of the gobble, hoping to catch a glimpse of the tom it had come from. I guess we were so intent on seeing him that we never saw another bird come up behind us. His gobble shocked the occupants of our blind.
I couldn't believe it. He was still standing there, looking around, trying to figure out where that loud noise came from and it appeared that he was about to bolt. At that very moment, a car drove by on a nearby road. This captured tom's attention and apparently convinced him to stay. Then he gobbled again and went into a half strut. I quickly covered his head with the Nova's front bead and squeezed the trigger. This time he turned a cartwheel and began flapping on the ground. The blind erupting into huge grins, cheering and high fives. Zane and I ran over to retrieve our prize. I will never forget the huge smile on his face and the strength of his hug as we congratulated one another.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4.07.09 Tennessee Turkey Trek IIb

Had a long day today. Saw some turkeys but didn't put one on the group. Zane's highlight was shooting a bb gun for the first time. His mama may skin me but if the truth be told it was all Mr. Rusty's fault!
Gonna go chase 'em again in the morning.

4.07.09 Tennessee Turkey Trek II

My body says its 4am but my mind is arguing that it’s definitely time to get up and go, go, go. The bedside clock agrees with my body in bright red digits. Zane is in deep REM, breathing like Darth Vader . A couple hours ago he rolled over, grabbed one of my shoulders, mumbled something I believe was “please” and drifted back to sleepyland. I’m not sure if he was begging for another popsicle like the one he talked me into before bedtime or for the Star Wars plush toy he was lusting over at the Books a Million last night. It’s quite possible he was pleading not to climb any more East Tennessee hills, like the ones we traversed yesterday in pursuit of Tom turkey. My legs, the ones that know its four am right now, agree with him. Note to self: You should’ve taken some ibuprofen last night.
When we stepped out of Rusty’s yesterday morning it was spitting snow and sprinkling rain with a ten to twenty mph wind doing it’s best to penetrate my fleece pullover. Not exactly the conditions I envisioned when daydreaming of Spring turkey hunting back in the doldrums of winter. Zane was bouncing around the truck with the limitless energy God gives six-year-old boys. I was a little worried about the conditions but felt with the proper layers we could give it a shot. Not sure it we would be out for fifteen minutes or a couple hours but I didn’t want the elements to ruin his highly anticipated first turkey hunt.
We hunted a couple hours, trudging up and down some steep hills, exploring the nooks and crannies of some very beautiful real estate. Rusty and I called occasionally and hoped a tom would gobble. They never answered and we didn’t see a feather the entire hunt. Apparently the turkeys weren’t real thrilled with the dramatic change in weather conditions.
It rained sporadically, luckily nothing more than a light misting. Zane found some great sticks, a couple deer bones, a rock which was of great importance to him (I couldn’t tell the difference between it and the millions of others we passed by) and many other wonderful things. He never complained.
As we climbed back into the truck and Zane burrowed into his little spot in the back of Mr. Rusty’s truck he was smiling and chattering about all the things we’d seen in the woods that morning. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and praise God for the opportunity to see the world around us through the eyes of my son. Hopefully tomorrow he will get to see a turkey.

Monday, April 6, 2009

4.06.09 Tennessee Turkey Trek I

It’s around midnight and Zane is finally asleep next to me. As I listen to his heavy breathing I wonder what he’s dreaming about. Just before he dosed off he informed me that he couldn’t sleep because he had, “too many things to think about.”
“Will we get a turkey?”
“I think we’re going to get a couple.”
The weather forecast is calling for a thirty degree drop in temperature and possible snow showers. We may not even see a bird but I’m content nonetheless. Can a man ever feel too grateful?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3.28.09 High Rock Fishing

I’d checked the weather forecast at least a hundred times in the last three days. Every forecast I checked called for at least 70% rain on Saturday morning. My friend, Joel, was in town for the week and he wanted to wet a line. Saturday was the only available time on his jam packed schedule and we were praying for some favorable weather to catch some bass and crappie. Greg had his Ranger fueled and our tackle boxes, rods and reels were at the ready. Now we needed to catch a break in the rain and God shined His favor down us at just the last minute. It was sprinkling a bit before bedtime but we decided if it wasn’t a torrential downpour we’d give it a shot.

Around 5 our alarm, and a stiff kick from my better half, woke me up. I checked the forecast and looked out the window…no rain. An hour later we were half way to High Rock but not before stopping at Bojangles for a biscuit.

Due to an afternoon appointment we only had a limited amount of time to fish. So for the next three hours we did our best to fill the livewell. Six bass made the mistake of hitting our lures and all were quickly returned to the murky water, after having their picture taken.

The highlight of the day, aside getting to do something I love to do, fish, while hanging out with two great friends, was the special appearance of two beavers, apparently in the middle of their spring time courtship. They spent the better part of thirty minutes swimming within close proximity of Greg’s Ranger, putting on a display that I will never forget.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

01.03.09 Waterfowl Hunt - Sharing a Blind with my Boys

What better way to begin the year than hunting with my two oldest kids. They've been asking, no begging, to go for several weeks and today the opportunity came up. Any time I get to be with my family is a real blessing. We took just one duck but it was a real treasure to two little boys.