The “itch” hit me a couple of months back when in the dead of winter we had a warm beautiful day.  Ever since then I had been wanting to go fishing.  Just like hunting I told my wife that I wanted to go fishing more this year.  I could count on one hand how many times I’ve been fishing in the last three to four years.  I went as far as getting all my reel and rods out and started cleaning them up and re-lining them.

I woke up early that Saturday morning.  Slight to no chance of rain, a beautiful warm day. The weather conditions were going to be perfect for a day outside.  Whether you got out riding a motorcycle, having a yard sale, going to a yard sale, doing yard work or going fishing. I chose to go fishing.  I got up, got dressed and then woke my wife and offered to take her out for breakfast.  Usually I cook breakfast on weekends and let her sleep in since she gets up during the weekday and fixes breakfast for me.  Most of the time I will wake up early and get up, fix myself a cup of coffee and watch the ‘Rifleman’ with Chuck Conners in the den.  Lately though I’ve started watching fishing shows.  You know, having the “itch” and all.

Anyway my wife got up and got dressed and we drove down to Luverne to have breakfast. Our place of choice is a little restaurant, or diner if you prefer, called ‘Taters’.  It used to be called ‘Matties’ but it was taken over by new owners.  I like the name ‘Taters’ better too. “Taters” or for anyone north of the Mason/Dixon Line that might be reading this, “potatoes” are by far my most favorite vegetable.  I love potatoes so much that I don’t even like calling it a vegetable because to me it seems like it’s an insult to it in some kind of way.  I prefer to call it the “other” meat.

We go into ‘Taters’ and as always, met with a welcoming smile.  Being a local they pretty much already know what you’re going to drink except my wife, it may be coffee, soda or tea.  It all depends on the mood she’s in for the day.  At each table or booth they always have an encouraging Bible verse on each napkin dispenser.  On the wall is words and quotes of faith, hope, love and family.  They always have gospel music playing on the radio.

We enjoy our meal and talk with other patrons, locals, as well as friends who may venture in.  Of course sometime it can get too loud in there as it gets crowded but that’s all part of the small town diner you’ll experience here in the south.

After about four cups of coffee and my wife’s one cup and a tea to go I’m still having my “itch”.  I can’t get to the water fast enough.  By the way did I mention that Tater’s has really good coffee?

When we get back home I start grabbing my reel and rods and all my fishing gear and throwing it into the truck.  My wife tells my son that we are going fishing and he’s talking and texting with his fiancé.  They decided they wanted to go fishing as well.  Great, we’ll make it a family affair and enjoy everyone’s company.

After a couple of stops to pick up some bait and other supplies as well as a soda we make our destination.  I am about to get my cure for my “itch”.  We get settled in and ready to fish and the first reel I pick up won’t cast.  That’s alright, there are four of us and I brought about nine reel and rods along.  The second one I cast out and it fell a few feet short, a few yards, okay it barely hit the water.  I reach down and pull on the line and it won’t move.  I take the cover off and look to see what was hanging the line and low and behold I realize of all the reels that I had prepared I had to pick up the one I forgot to re-line.  Situation taken care of now I am ready to catch me a string or cooler full of fish and have some fresh fish to eat.  Everyone is getting nibbles and bites and I’m going after the big ones.  I want to haul in that monster Bass, the kind you would be proud to hang on the wall and brag about in years to come.  I’m loving this moment in my life.  I’ve finally got a chance to go fishing, got my family and future family around me.  Those that I love the most enjoying the day with me.

Finally getting settled in for a second time and everyone and everything is nice and quiet. Looking out over the water I reflected back to times I’ve spent with my dad and older brothers and my son out fishing.  I finally come to the realization of where my dad would get his words of wisdom from.  Experience.

After about four hours of fishing and only one little bream fish caught, which I did not catch, we decided the fish weren’t biting enough but the mosquitos and the turtles were. We still enjoyed the day and each other’s company.

And just like my dad gave me, I now give you my words of wisdom to my son and anyone else that will listen: If you plan a fishing trip for the day don’t EVER drink four cups of coffee and a soda before going.

Have a great day and take a loved one fishing this spring and summer and if you’re ever in Luverne, Alabama stop in at “Taters” and have a bite.  You’ll be glad you did.

If I Could Do Like That

When I was younger, much younger, my friends and I would watch a movie on television only to go outside and reenact it in the yard.  Whether we were cowboys and indians, soldiers fighting in a war or out on some space odyssey like Luke Skywalker or Buck Rogers. There was a time when wrestling was the biggest thing and we would watch it on television only to wound up making the living room or den the wrestling ring and hope we didn’t break nothing when our parents weren’t around. 

As we got older things didn’t change much.  We don’t tear the house apart wrestling, as a matter of fact I haven’t watched wrestling in a long time and it’s not because of the myth that went around years ago that it was fake. Only now my son and I watch hunting shows and fishing shows, and the very thing we both say is that we wished we could kill a big buck like that, or a moose or an elk or whatever else they are hunting.  It kind of gives us an itch that can’t be scratched until we get out in the woods ourselves, early in the pre-dawn hours before the sun comes up and its cold outside.  We get in the woods and sit and wait. Watching and listening for any sound of the monster buck that we’ve seen on television the weekend before. 

Or what about the monster fish that is caught by those professional anglers? There are a few things on my bucket list and one of them is to be strapped in a chair with reel and rod to fight and haul in one of those monstrous sailfish or a massive blue marlin just once in my life. 

The very thing we say is, “Man, I would love to do that!” whether it’s in the woods or on the water most men I know would love to do that just once.  To have that picture of them standing next to that big fish or have that ‘wall-hanger’ trophy in the living room or den. 

It reminds me of the song “If I Could Be Like That” by the group 3 Doors Down.  ‘He spends his nights in California, watching the stars on the big screen, and he lies awakes and wonders, why can’t that be me.’    

And before you ladies jump the gun and think it’s all a man thing, think again.  Lately I’ve also had the privilege, courtesy of my wife, to watch the Food Network with her.  We would watch the food challenge and one of our favorites is the Cake Challenge and Cupcake Wars.  And she would say the same thing us guys would say to a hunting and fishing show, “I wish I could do like that”.

Television really does make it glamorous. We also watch DIY and HGTV and wished we could transform our houses and yards into what they do.  And to think they also make it all look so easy.  But sometime while watching these shows take a looks behind the person and see the tools and utensils they use to make everything from those backyards of paradise to those towering mountains of  sugar they call cakes. 

Then we go in the kitchen to have our scrambled eggs and toast and drink our coffee before going outside to cut the grass until it dies down in the fall.  Then go out in the woods hoping maybe we can at least kill a small buck or even a doe.  Well, now it’s back to reality so welcome back to the real world.

There Is More To Being A Hunter Than Hunting

My son and I recently went to the Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, AL. To say the least it was very crowded.  We had to walk along with the flow of people just to be able to go from one booth to the next.  It would remind you of heavy traffic during rush hour but the traffic weren’t cars and trucks but people. And speaking of traffic we had to circle several blocks before we actually found a place to park.  We decided to go on my little car instead of one of our bigger trucks and it was probably a good thing we did. We found a parking spot on a corner where only a small car or motorcycle could park. Then we had to walk for a few blocks to get to the Convention Center downtown where it was being held.

All they asked for in admission was one can of food that would be donated to the Montgomery area food bank.  We have always taken several cans of different items and we usually would have a bag full. Besides it does go to a very worthy cause, it helps feed the hungry.  I stood in the lobby for a few minutes before we left coming home and watched people bring only the one required can to get in.

As we walked around we didn’t see a bunch of bearded men at every booth trying to sell some foul-smelling deer lure, or trying to sell you a camouflage outfit with a rifle and cartridges. And there wasn’t a bunch of bearded men dressed in camouflage walking around to each booth looking at the latest thing on the market. I honestly thought you could only make so many different kinds of camo. 

But what was there was a lot of families enjoying quality time together. Women looking at guns and rifles, ammunition, sizing the toddler up with their own hunting clothes and gear.  They had baby clothes, blankets, and toys for children.  Husbands and fathers were spending time with their families. It wasn’t just about the man. I saw several husbands showing different kinds of guns to their wife’s they thought would be a good fit for her. Father’s were sizing up their son or daughter with a gun along with the help of representatives from companies like Remington, Marlin and Winchester. 

Hunting can and has become a family affair. I was there with my son. There were many times we would go hunting and not see anything but we were together. It was quality time for a father and son enjoying the great outdoors.  When fathers take their sons or daughters hunting it builds a bond between them.  We all know statistics show that when a father and mother is involved with their children, the children are less likely to get into any kind of trouble as teens or after they’re grown. My son and I didn’t buy anything and just like those days when we didn’t catch a fish or kill a deer and others think that it was a waste let me tell you it wasn’t. It was worth every minute of spending time with my son. 

As the title of this blog, there is more to being a hunter than hunting. Buckmasters is only one of many different hunting organizations that are a prime example. There is more to being a hunter than hunting. It is also about respect. Respect of other people, their property, respect for the outdoors, respect for firearms, teaching and learning responsibility and the list goes on and on. Above all things, Buckmasters is very instrumental in taking handicap children and adults out on a hunt, as well as many other hunting organizations and individuals. We were impressed when we looked at a shooting house that would be for a handicap hunter in a wheelchair. 

I had the privilege to meet one hunting celebrity, Travis ‘T-Bone’ Turner. He wasn’t there gloating and bragging on what he killed while out on a hunt. He was there endorsing and promoting of all things. Air rifles. Guns catered more to children. He talked to, autographed and had pictures with the future generation of deer hunters.

So you see there is more to hunting than just being a hunter.  There is so much that we as hunters can share with others.  It is priceless for a child who has never had an opportunity to go hunting or a handicap person who would have never had an opportunity to hunt or fish can go home and have that memory to share for the rest of their lives. And to think that we had a part in making someone else’s life that much more memorable.