21 Feb

The Seasons Change And All Remains The Same

                                       

Life in the far North is a continual rotation of the seasons, they dictate your life and your efforts, to resist is hopeless; a rancher learns to adjust to the dramatic climate changes and his life has fewer surprises and disasters. Spring is the season that causes the most problems, there is the thaw and the runoff, the incessant winds that make horses nervous and bring down trees while you walk in the bush, the creeks and rivers are in flood and will take your life without remorse if you are foolish enough to think you are invincible. Everyone waits for the mud to dry, so they can get to the fields and work the ground as the frost keeps rising up out of the ground and the rains keep coming down in three and four day monsoons. People are often grouchy while they wait to begin farming and the normal activities of the outdoors man.

Once the ground begins to dry and the rivers tire of raging in their banks, summer comes and the rebirth of life begins. The grasses turn green, the trees put out their buds, the song birds fuss over their little families, the cows call out to their calves as they buck and gambol in the green grass during the only period of life they seem to enjoy, all around the wild animals have their young insuring that the cycle of life will continue for at least another year.

As the temperatures rise, late spring yields to summer and work on the ranch can begin in earnest. The tractors can work the fields without danger of sinking to the hubs in mud, fences can be repaired, cattle can be turned out on summer pasture and the ravages that winter frost and spring winds have inflicted on the ranch can be repaired. Summer is a a period of work and the 20 hour days are often used without wasting daylight.

The first frost often comes on August 15, the opening day of moose season, haying should be complete and the turning over of fallow fields often is finished. For guys like me, the excitement of hunting and filling up the freezer with moose and elk is now the driving factor. The securing of meat for the year became my first and foremost responsibility; after that chore was completed, I could concentrate on my first love, Grizzly hunting. It is hard to explain or justify, but there is something that reaches down to our most basic nature when you hunt and track an animal who just might be hunting and tracking you at the same time. Our weapon is our main advantage, that and our eyesight is more acute at a distance, the mature Grizzly can’t climb trees because his claws are too thick, but why climb a tree to scape when he will just shake you out of the tree or pull the tree out by the roots; after our advantages are discounted, we can’t outrun them, we can’t out swim them, our comparative strength is laughable, our sense of smell is almost non-existent, our hearing is pathetic, our tracking skills can’t compare, so hunting them on an equal footing isn’t necessarily a guaranteed outcome. Several hunters pay for the thrill of hunting them with their lives each year. I harbor no ill will toward the mighty Grizzly; even though, one of them killed one of my pack horses, a large animal that was a quarter draft, and was tossing him in the air while still alive like a dog with a squirrel; I can’t blame the Grizzly, he has a voracious appetite. Still I will hunt the Grizzly until I can no longer navigate in the bush: if one of them kills me before that time it will be a suitable death for an old Grizzly hunter.

The storms and snows of fall are wild in their fury and I love to be out in the open when nature cuts loose with her fury. To feel the forces of nature, is to appreciate the full depth and essence of being alive. It is best to be away from the trees since the fierce Northern winds blow them down or snap them like tooth picks. I have seen the aftermath of a 100 mile an hour rogue wind when it blows down a section, (640 acres) of pine and spruce with 36 inch diameter butts and 65 foot heights and there on the ground is a fortune in lumber lying there like chop sticks waiting to rot into the ground or burn like an inferno.

Once the snow is a foot deep or so and the temperatures start dropping into the 40 below range, the only cold temperature that we take deadly serious, winter has arrived. For me and a few thousand intrepid souls, that meant the trapping season. Yes, we committed brutal murder on the furry creatures who make a life’s work of killing and eating each other, so that rich women and a few men can adorn themselves with the furred treasures of the North. Oh, I would tan the odd coyote hide or beaver pelt to make mittens for extreme cold, but those were inferior furs that showed the scars of life’s most elemental struggle, fighting for their very life, the rest were sold to the fur buyers and of course the Queen of England got a cut of the deal for some reason that eludes me to this day. I often thought of writing her a letter and introducing myself since we were almost partners on the trap line, at least she had a share of a the furs I took in a winter’s work. I thought it would be nice to invite her out for a few days on the trap line so that she could see what was involved and let me know if she thought she deserved a bigger cut of the profits. I bet she could afford a decent snowmobile. There’s not really much room in the trap cabins, she would need to leave her staff back at the home ranch and trust me to do the cooking, I’d let her have the bunk and I’d roll out my blanket roll on the floor. I bet she’d really have a memorable time and have a lot to talk about back at Buckingham Palace, when she got home.

Once trapping season ended, I’d go home to help with calving. I’m a much better horseman than cowman, but I know the basics and can work with cattle. We always had five or six hundred head of cattle and among those would be 50 or 60 first calf heifers. These were the ones that usually had the problems calving; especially if they didn’t like the Angus bull that was in with them: an Angus bull tends to produce smaller calves making the process of birthing or calving go easier for the heifers. Life and the fickleness females being the way it is, there were always a few heifers who would jump fences when they took a shine to one of the big Charlois bulls who tended to produce a calf that was half grown when it hit the ground. This always caused problems, because the calf was too large for the heifer and it was up to a human to dilate the vulva with your hands for at least five minutes and determine the position of the calf. If it had it’s head turned or if it was in a bad position and was still alive, you needed to turn the calf and get it in the correct position to be born, a process that is easier written about than done. For some reason I never questioned, you wanted the cow on her right side, to perform these bovine obstetrics and that wasn’t always easy. Needless to say, it was a messy job, often made more complicated by extreme temperatures. There were also the cows that were shy and didn’t want everyone watching them have their calves. They would walk off to be alone, often down in a gully and try to have their calves, sometimes the coyotes would be eating the calf as it was being born and if we found her in trouble the snow was often so deep our obstetrics work was even more complicated and while we spent time with the wayward cow another one would develop problems up above. There was never a boring evening when we were calving. My best friend Knarley Manners was helping me and my dad keep a round the clock vigil on the cows and the lurking coyotes were always looking for a quick meal of veal.

Knarley was usually my helper because of my counting problem, I always had problems counting the herd and making sure none of our girls wandered off to lose their calf and maybe their own life. Knarley could do technical things much better than me, but I was better at reading and writing: his handwriting looked like a child’s script his whole life and he only read the bible and the hunting and trapping regulations, other than that, he had no use for reading. We might be checking out 5 to 6 hundred cows, but he knew each one and their approximate position. If one was missing, he could find it in a manner of minutes, he was one of the best trackers I ever knew.

On one of these nights John Belcourt rode into the yard on a horse that had given everything to get John to our ranch in a hurry. He was excited and I had never seen John excited. Knarley led the horse away and put it down as John tried to explain to me why he killed his horse to get here in the middle of the night in such a hurry.

Apparently, a daughter or niece had been in labor for 48 hours out on John’s trap line and the baby wasn’t being born. I didn’t have a clue as to what to tell him, so we walked over to the cabin and woke my dad up to see what should be done. I thought my dad might be really pissed that the woman was out in the bush instead of in town, where help was available; my dad was a hard man, but he understood the native thinking on these matters and he started formulating a plan.

Many native births happen as they have for millions of years and everything usually goes well, but when they go bad, they can go horribly wrong. My dad told me to get his team and that John and Knarley should go with me to pick up the young girl and drive her back to the ranch with the Democrat bob sleigh. A Democrat has two bench seats and sits on the bob sleigh.

Once we got the girl close to the ranch we would fire a rifle and my dad would start a truck and by the time we got home the truck would be warmed up and ready to go to town.

There were a few potential problems with this plan, my dad was a good teamster, his team was a lot younger than mine and they had a bit of fire. My team was an old team, Tom and Jeraldine, they were the ones I almost always drove to feed in the winter and to skid and haul logs with when we were logging. We had to cross the river, that could be tricky because river ice is never predictable. We were also using my dad’s Democrat that had been his dad’s pride and joy to drive to church in the winter. I didn’t want to wreck it, that’s for sure. Knarley and I looked at each other in disbelief at what we were expected to accomplish as young teenagers. My dad yelled at us to get blankets, matches, an ax, a rifle, a lantern, and a chain saw. He hitched up the team and twenty minutes later we were following John’s tracks to the river in the dark. the Democrat with the three of us didn’t register as a load for my dad’s Clydesdale Percheron cross team, they were used to hauling a ton of hay in three foot of snow without a care in the world. The cold air and the lack of weight made them want to go fast and I was using every bit of driving skill I possessed to keep from having a wreck in the dark as they kept increasing their speed. I asked John if the bank was steep where he crossed the river. He assured me it was easy or at least I think he did, while talking to us in three different languages, that in his excitement came out as a hodge podge of gibberish with a thick Indian accent.

In a few minutes the horses dove over the river bank and the three of us were thrown over the tops of the seats as the Democrat followed the horses. I manged to hold on as I was thrown out toward the horses, since I was expecting a steep bank despite John’s incoherent reassurances that it would be easy and then John slammed into me and we barely kept from going under the sleigh as the horses raced toward the river. John got his bulk back in the sleigh and pulled me back in as easily as though I were a child. My hand was sore and I couldn’t get my air, but John thought the whole incident was funny and was laughing as Knarley and I seriously studied the ice in front of us that was coming toward us at an unbelievably fast pace.

The horses hit the ice at a fast trot and thankfully they had sharp shoes with borium welded on, I knew the shoes were good, because I had nailed on the shoes a week earlier. About half way cross the river, the ice began to make loud cracking noises and we felt the Democrat drop with the ice as the horses kept racing for the other bank. We could hear the water rushing beneath us as the horses kept racing to new ice and as the Democrat kept passing over the ice, the ice would give way. The horses lunged over the far bank and we held on this time because we saw the bank in front of us. I patiently explained to John that we would need to cross at a ford on the way back, so that the water would not be so deep. I told him about the danger of deeper water and he shook his head to assure me he knew of the right place to cross on the way back. I honestly had no idea, whether he understood me or not.

It was only a short way to John’s tent, the young girl looked to be in the same condition as John’s horse. The fire had gone out of the wood stove but the girl was in a sweat and she looked more dead than alive. John and Knarley stood there doing nothing, so I carried the girl out to the Democrat, she felt as if she weighed almost nothing. I told Knarley to brace her so she didn’t get thrown from the seat, while John helped me find a different place to cross the river. He picked a wide spot and the banks weren’t nearly as steep, the chances were that this was a real ford since a ford is always a wider place in the river, but sometimes there were deep channels in a ford, that was a chance we were going to be forced to take.

Every once in a while the girl in the back would moan or let out a scream, but other than that she was holding on and maintaining her vitality. We started across the river and the sleigh broke through the ice almost immediately, the water was on ly a foot deep and the ice was only three or four inches thick, soon the horses were breaking through and we hit a rock or something that stopped the sleigh dead in one spot. The ice was breaking all around us and the rushing water was pushing the ice up on the Democrat and trying to push the Democrat over; suddenly the girl started screaming, she wasn’t scared of the sleigh that was wanting to tip, she was in pain. Knarley started the chain saw and was cutting at the chunks of ice spraying ice chips and water over everything to make the gathering ice into smaller pieces that he could kick away. John Jumped into the river to find out what was preventing us from going forward. I jumped into the back seat to see why the girl was screaming.

With my left hands on the reins, I patted her round belly with my right hand. She had her knees up and was trying to birth the baby. Knowing only what to do with cows, I dilated her with my right hand to try and enlarge her, I then reached in to try and feel the baby to see if it was in the right position, I felt the head in the birth canal, I reached further back to make sure the cord wasn’t wrapped around the neck. Thankfully, it didn’t appear to be, I held the tiny head in my hand and pulled when she pushed and after two big pushes combined with my tugs, the baby was born and crying over the cold air and the water now running across the floor of the Democrat while I was kneeling on my knees on the floor. I wiped the baby with a towel and wrapped it in another towel and handed the little girl to her mother. I told her she still needed to push the placenta and that was free in another couple of minutes.

The Democrat was tilting and slipping down stream, John couldn’t move the rock that had us stopped, so he reached down and with superhuman strength picked up the front bob sleigh as I asked the horses to move forward and suddenly, we were free and moving. The water pushed the hind end downstream enough that the back sled missed the rock. The horses had been in the cold water long enough and headed for the opposite bank with renewed speed; we were breaking ice as we went ahead, but we weren’t going to stop this time. We fired the rifle a mile from the house and again at a half mile, just to make sure my dad could hear the rifle. John stayed and helped Knarley and my dad with calving while I drove the mother and baby to the hospital. Those two didn’t want anything to do with delivering human babies, but they would pull calves around the clock.

I filled in when it was necessary and maybe that baby would have been fine without me, it is hard to say; although, the girl felt better having someone there to help her through her crisis. Thankfully, there are professionals who do this type of business on a regular basis. I can appreciate their professionalism, especially after delivering a baby myself. The public places a lot of faith in these people who are trained to perform these procedures and who know what to do when there is a real emergency.

We call those people professionals. When those professionals compromise their professionalism with their political beliefs, they have crossed a line of trust. Not that professionals can’t have political opinions, almost all of them have their political opinions, but when they betray that position of trust to promote a political cause or commit fraud in that position of trust, they are no longer worthy of the professionalism and responsibility society has given them. The MDs who passed out fraudulent medical exams on the street corner in Madison, WI, to excuse teachers who called in sick under false circumstances have committed fraud as have the teachers, who also hold a position of trust and professionalism. It may be argued that there is no harm and no foul; however there is a foul, for we now know these people no longer have integrity and they are more than willing to commit fraud and to lie to promote a political cause. We the public are now left asking, are these people worthy of their professionalism and responsibility or have they lowered themselves to the level of a corrupt lying politician who only has his own welfare at heart.

About Skook

A professional horseman for over 40 years, Skook continues to work with horses. He is in an ongoing educational program, learning life's lessons from one of the world's greatest instructors, the horse. Skook has a personal website skooksjournal.com featuring his personal writings and historical novel type stories.
This entry was posted in American Exceptionalism, Culture, Culture of Corruption, Deception and Lies, Education, Labor Unions, Politics, Teachers Union and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 12:38 pm
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20 Responses to The Seasons Change And All Remains The Same

  1. Nan G says: 1

    I’m going to take a chance and guess that you, Skookum, have never, ever needed any stomach medications.
    No ulcers for you!

    Fight or flight.
    Only when we sublimate the fight or flight instinct and try to pretend it isn’t there in us, do we develop that gnawing ache in the stomach.
    (Oh, sure, doctors now say it is all a microbe, but that’s mostly trickery to help make a psychosomatic disorder disappear faster.)

    Anyway, fight or flight is the best cure.
    No wonder you ache for the hunt.
    I’m too old to hunt anymore, and I miss it every year.
    (I do fish, still. I don’t think I’ll ever be too old for that.)

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  2. Old Trooper2 says: 2

    Nothing short of Artistry in the description of the Good Life. Excellent “Tell” on Life in the Rough and Tumble.
    Thanks Pardner!

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  3. Al Cooper says: 3

    In re: these “doctors” and their “excuses”

    Cowboys do not cry.

    I grew up believing that. When things did not go my way,
    or if I got hurt or wounded, I “sucked it up” and lived by that rule and dealt with the situation.
    Turpentine was used on cuts when I was a kid, and it would sting.
    I always thought medicine was supposed to taste bad.
    I thought if it did not hurt or taste bad, it did not help.
    When Bactine came out and did not hurt, I thought it did not work.
    I went back to salt or turpentine.
    I did not want to hurt, but I wanted something that worked.
    I was taught not to touch anything in someone else’s house.
    To always put things back where I found them, and not to mess with them if they were not mine.
    “Never leave a tool outside” said my grandfather.
    He was a blacksmith and taught me blacksmithing, mechanics, manners, morals, ethics, and how to treat ladies and be a gentleman.
    He told me I was the only person in the world that was responsible for my actions and no one else could, or would, take the blame if I were wrong.
    He was the kind of man who would carry a farmer on credit if he could not pay, and forgive the debt if the farmer could not recover.
    Nothing is free, I was told, you earn it or it does not exist.
    I bought a bicycle by pulling cotton when I was nine, with matching funds from my grandfather. I kept that bike in perfect condition and rode it for ten years.
    That is what earning something can do.
    My mother gave my bicycle to one of my cousins after I joined the Air Force.
    It lasted two months.
    There were nine children in my cousin’s family, he was the youngest. His family had money and none of them had to work for anything and were given anything they wanted, none of which lasted long.
    My grandfather took me fishing a lot. He would wake me up at four am saying “boy, your eggs are getting cold”, he had breakfast ready. Then we would dig worms by kerosene lantern and go fishing in his 1933 Ford. I watched many sunrises from the shores of farm ponds in Oklahoma. Grandfather would say, “Be quiet boy, you will scare the fish”.
    Many years later I realized he just wanted me to be quiet, this was his relaxing time from what he was going through and I was lucky enough to be sharing it. Essentially he was taking care of me because my parents would not. Not fair to him, but of course I had no choice.
    When he was in his eighties, his children talked him into fishing four days and working three, and then into fishing seven days and working none. So he sat down on the front porch and died. They took away his reason for living.
    I recall visiting him between Air Force assignments on his front porch, and his mind was so gone he called me “Sylvanus”, his son’s name. I did not correct him. I thought to myself, my hero does not know who I am.

    My grandfather was a professional.

    I do no know if he went to college, or even high school.
    I do know that no “highly educated” man was his equal.

    He would never have debased himself with a phony statement.

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  4. Skookum says: 4

    Yes Nan, I have a cast iron stomach and I won’t die of ulcers. I owe part of my health to eating hot oats every morning; years ago, I noticed what it did for horses and decided that it would charge me up as well.

    I tend to get nervous when I encounter a Grizzly in a foul humor and I just have my fly rod or stumble on a kill site with just a fly rod and the Grizzly thinks I might have stopped in for a quick snack.

    I love fishing as well. The problem is after fishing for fish that can feed 3 or 4 men, it is hard to get intrigued with any other kind of fishing.

    My family has agreed to let me wander off with a rifle if I become too feeble, at least that is what they say now.

    Enjoy your fishing, it is a wonderful sport.

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  5. Skookum says: 5

    Thanks OT, I bet you will be anxious to see those Calgary bulls start earning a living.

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  6. Skookum says: 6

    Al, that was a touching and inspiring story, thank you.

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  7. Zac says: 7

    This is a great piece! I especially liked the part about hunting grisly.

    Most of my hunting consisted of various rodents and birds at long range with everything from shotguns to crossbows to large rocks. Some times when I would hang my kill to make a tribal looking shrines in the forest; it looked like something out of indiana jones. my dream is to one day go scuba diving with a spear and come home with a great white. Hunting in all forms is A-ok!

    The masi tribe from Africa won’t allow the young men to court until they have speared a lion, all women should have standards that high. Unfortunately most women think I’m a little crazy. Hunters are a different kind of people that’s for sure.

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  8. Zac says: 8

    *I should probably point out that most of my rodent hunting happened prior to my turning 18, for those of you who were wondering what kind of strange man would make a shrine of dead rodents.

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  9. Randy says: 9

    Well, our family believed in the rites of passage. I had a single shot .22 at 6 and shot my first deer at 10. Over the years, I have spent most of my hunting time actually walking and watching. I don’t hunt as much unless we need some wild meat. Likely going to Alaska for moose this fall.

    Skook, when my son’s mother was pregnant, she wanted me to go to those birthing classes. I asked her if is wasn’t just like birthing calves back on the farm? I don’t need to repeat her comments here, but is is likely one of the reasons I am not married to her now!

    That was a right fine tale. It is even better since it was you staring in it! You sure need to get busy on that book!

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  10. Skookum says: 10

    Randy, the moose are bigger in Alaska, but if you want freezer meat shoot anything less than a 36 inch rack, the earlier the better. Th 48 inch rack will yield freezer meat up until the end of September. A two year old will have a 24 inch rack, 3 year old 36, 4 year old 48, at 5 they get up to 70 inches at about 7 or 8 they come out of the head thick but the palms begin to look deformed. They don’t eat during the rut and will fight and tear each other up pretty bad, they have the rut staggered somewhat to have bulls service the late estrus cows. Nature arranged that on her own. If you are there during the rut, be careful coughing or blowing your nose you could end up with a bull moose in your lap, all ticked off and looking to take names and haul ashes. A big bull can almost turn over a gravel truck when he is in the rut. I am going on the Northern BC moose for sizes and ages, for some reason they get bigger the farther North you travel. Sounds like a fun trip.

    The big racks are nice, but my ex has the only rack I mounted, it was a 52 inch in the velvet from Puggins Mountain; funny the way those things happen. They will shed the velvet soon after the first frost. LOL

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  11. Randy says: 11

    I was thinking of taking some young kid with me to haul out the moose! Need to do this before I get too old! You know, those fish that feed 4-5 people have my freezer all full. Two of us have a 22 cu ft freezer full of salmon, halibut and some cod. We also have 60 lbs of white tail meat.

    Skook, my ex only had a 34B rack! LOL

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  12. oil guy from Alberta says: 12

    Some thoughts:
    The old man thought summer all winter and winter all summer. Looking back, he was 100% right. We picked thousands of hay bales most of the summer and I did the chopped feed to stay out of the cold of winter. After the harvest, the fanning mills would start. This was the screening for weed free seed grain that he sold all winter. Dad and the hired hand did most of the calving. I did most of my homework at night in the seed plant. My brother and I must have set some sort of record shovelling grain. Dad said it would be worthwhile someday and again he was 100% right. Was he always right? Today it seems like it.

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  13. oil guy from Alberta says: 13

    We would screen thousands of bushels of flax and my brother and I would get the weed screenings which we could sell to buy hockey equipment. Next thing you know, we buying farm land. He made us into capitalists.

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  14. Skook,

    Great telling as always, with the quality trend line continuing ever-upward. Until your loved ones send your feeble self wandering on your own into the bush with a rifle, (very probably with no ammo) we look forward to many more. Well done.

    You spark recollection of some favorite memories as a teenager, following my father on a hunt, floating six feet above the frozen forest floor, making way on snowshoes, and the crackling snow underfoot being the only sound invading the silence. My Dad was the hunter, I just carried supplies and provided company not quite having developed or even fully grasped his love of the hunt in the wilderness. Nevertheless, I understood enough to appreciate your feelings on hunting Grizzlies.

    Although my father had large and small gage rifles, and double barrelled shotguns, his favourite hunting tools were a simple one piece wooden longbow with a quiver full of razor tipped arrows, and a hunting knife. His rifle only visited the forest when he was after moose. Unbelievably, all other quarry, from quail, to rabbits, and even to deer, were strictly and only hunted with his favorite, simple longbow – not a complex compound bow, just a rather straightforward, inexpensive longbow.

    He had taught me enough to know that when he stopped and froze on the hunt, I had to instantly stop and freeze – stop breathing even. Occasionally his blue eyed, frowning glare would admonish me for not making my presence quite “silent” enough. Usually, no matter how much I endeavoured to scan, or peer into the distant underbrush, I can safely say, I could never determine what prey his gaze was fixated on. He had his prey in sight and for the duration of this event, he would not blink. Such moments would become frozen in time, and to this day, remain very fond, very personal memories.

    As if watching a slow motion sequence in a movie, the scene would play itself out. I would just stand and watch in sheer amazement at the unfolding. Through one, very steady, interminably slow, upward progression, my father’s left arm holding the longbow would rise, lifting the arrow to the level of his right eye, at the same time as the right hand drew back the string engaged into the arrow. He was six feet five, so the bow had some distance to travel. The fluid upward movement would not stop – the left arm and the right would reach their respective ideal positions at the same instant, and the fingers would release. From somewhere in the distance a sound of cracking branches would momentarily disturb the silence. Then all would be quiet again, with only the sound of our snowshoes compressing the surface snow as we advanced to the quarry. Not once on all of the hunts on which I accompanied him, did he ever need to draw a second arrow from his quiver. The first shot was always exactly on target.

    I recall one instance when standing in silence as he went through the slow ritual during a fall afternoon, I was squinting desperately through the dense trees and bushes into the distance, trying hard to discern what it was that chance was about to decide would become dinner. My eyesight just could not see it. As the arrow reached his eye level, his fingers instantly released. I barely made out the arrow piercing the warm air from ten feet behind and to his right, but some eighty feet or so in the distance, a brief rustling as a large wild rabbit flew six feet into the air, through a backward summersault, and then silence again. As we pulled up, its neck was halfway down the arrow shaft. Another perfect shot. I have no idea how he did what he did, but what I know is that everything he shot, became one or many meals. Nothing was ever wasted.

    He would tell me that the bow made the hunt a fairer fight, but I am confident that what he enjoyed most of all was the silence of the forest, and the longbow most appropriately suited that silence. My queries about bears or wolves, and whether he, or more aptly I, should be worried about being attacked far from civil society and help, would be answered with a stare. That particular stare silently meant “You must be kidding. Please tell me you’re kidding.” Having fought the Italian and French campaigns in WWII, he may well be the only person I have known who didn’t feel fear, and rarely understood it in others. My father is the only person I ever hunted with, and only when I was young, and I never took to the forest after that, but I admired the skills that had the capacity to bring down the game, butcher it with dexterity, and prepare some of the finest meals I have ever eaten.

    . . . Thanks Skook.

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  15. Skookum says: 15

    JR, what a story! I was right there with the two of you. I have a suggestion. Pick up a copy of Primitive Bowhunter at the news stand and write that story with a few pics of you pulling a bow. I don’t think it will put you in a higher tax bracket and those guys need a story like that one. I hunted with the simple and recurve bow as a boy, but I never shot like you dad. Man that was real I was holding my breath and watching your dad pull that bow back.

    I am working on the book, I have several chapters re written and I am devoting much of my new articles to stories that will fit within the book. I have enough stories for two books so we shall see.

    Thanks for your info and encouragement. There are several outdoor mags that will pay for that kind of writing. That’s what I used to do in the 80’s until I grew tired of an Apple IIE and turning out huntings stories by the ton. You might as well build up a diversified biography. The best outdoor writers and the biggest pay is in Gray’s Sporting something or another, they pay thousands rather than hundreds. They are a sophisticated group and I never thought I could match their tweedy style, but i think you can. Check it out.

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  16. Skook,

    Thank you and I will dig into it. It has honestly never crossed my mind to do so. The things I have written on have been of an entirely different nature. Your article was whollely responsible for triggering the above recollection, and I enjoyed the brief journey through distant and pleasant memories that I now wish I could relive, . . . don’t we all?

    ReplyReply
  17. Skookum says: 17

    I think the mag is Gray’s Sporting Journal, it is the creme de la creme of hunting and fishing mags and probably pays two to four grand for an article. It will need to be 4 to 5 thousand words if I remember correctly. As a former mag writer, I can say with authority that you start at the top and work our way down with an article. It takes a special hunting story to capture me, once you have been a pro, you recognize a lot of things about a writer when he writes about your vocation. I can’t stand to read most of them, but your story caught me by the heart strings. Besides telling the story of your father and letting it become history for a hundred years or longer; there are many boys and older boys who want to dream about the life and you have a dream for them. It is from the heart and that is why it is good. Develop it and think about a book about your dad and you, for boys and older boys.

    Like I said, I can’t stand reading 90% of that stuff: if I like it, that’s a seal of approval, from a former pro and that’s not to be taken lightly.

    ReplyReply
  18. Skook,

    . . . Great to hear you have put together a couple of books worth of writing. That’s exciting. The tough part, as you know, is the final editing. It seems that that particular part of the process has an energy of its own, and never wants to end. :)

    ReplyReply
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