Being a Sportsman

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Trail Boss Articles

By Steven L. Doran

I took a look through my Granddad’s field glasses that rested in a light brown leather case on the front seat of his Ford LTD Station wagon. The Wagon seemed to be more of a truck than a family car. He took it in where some 4WD’s would not go. Granddad moved the vehicle slowly forward and out of sight behind a thicket of brush.  “What did you see boy?” he asked, “Tons of ducks”. He laughed and grabbed his door with his left hand, and pulled the handle gently with his right to avoid the loud click in normally made, and stepped out motioning me to crawl out his side of the wagon.

He retrieved a bolt action 16 from the back end of the wagon where the window had been purposely left down. He leaned over and said “to make if fair we have to spook them in the air before I start shooting, so when we reach the edge of the lake and I nod clap your hands as loud as you can”.

When we reached the edge of the lake, he nodded and I clapped my hands, the sky filled with ducks. Granddad fired and worked the bolt three times and two ducks fell. He automatically re-loaded three more shells when the gun was dry. I  automatically picked up his empties and ran for the ducks and brought them back. My Granddad said the same thing regardless of what it was we got that day, fish, birds, squirrel, rabbit or deer: BOY! Them’s nice ones!  I knew when we got home or back to camp he would make quick work of cleaning and cooking our catch of the day.

Granddad knew how to hunt and where to go to give us the best chance of not coming home empty handed. But as with all adventures sometimes we got skunked and he did not like it, although he never said a bad word about it.

All of his techniques usually worked. He was a woodsman and one of the best I have ever seen. If you have not yet figured it out, we did not have fancy guns, clothing, calls, dogs, scents or any other equipment considered to be necessary today. We hunted, filed the pot and had fun with what we had available. We did not remortgage the house to enjoy the outdoors.

It was not until I was a grown man and hunting with others outside my family circle that I was told in order to take wild game I needed to wear certain clothing, use certain guns, rods, bows and other products.  It was a real eye-opener to say the least.

I definitely never felt like I needed a costume or needed to consult with James Bond’s Q before I went hunting to insure my success. I followed and still do follow my Granddad’s rule that clothing needs to be soft to conceal noise    and your method for taking wild game must be legal. Other than that there are no rules and I need no special tools. Now do not get me wrong I like fine equipment and things that make life a bit easier. But I do not need it, and I can assure you it does not stop me from going a field. A sportsman needs to know how to hunt and fish– all of the other stuff is not necessary. I have hunted everything you can imagine all over the US and in different parts of the world.

If I fail to take my prey, it is not because I did not have the latest and the greatest piece of equipment.   I will admit I go hunting and fishing to partake in the consumption of wild game. But I also go to see the landscape, and depending on the time of the year to see the fresh snow cover the ground just about every morning, and the fresh animal tracks in the snow.

I go to hear men talk about their backgrounds and tell me stories of their adventures of times past, some of whom are and were real American heroes and adventurers. I love it when they show me a gun that they used in their war or while on the job and still carry it today, or the rifle they took a grizzly or mountain lion that was ready to pounce or killing their stock.

I have been blessed to see a hundreds of deer, antelope, grizzly, black bear, elk and moose as my horses and I headed deep into the mountains all in the same day, and adding a pheasant or two to the pot as we stopped on our way to the hunting ground.

Real sportsmen are men of many interests and skill and they share those skills with others. During our trips we explore caves, cabins and areas where evidence of people who have not lived there for many, many years still survives. We explore Native American camps where they prepared food and lived for the season. Mines and old roads where the first people to enter a particular area of the country worked and toiled none of which are used or even known to most today.

Being a sportsman has nothing to do with what you own or what you wear.  It is all about a love for the wilderness and learning to work with it,  and those who love it.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven L. Doran All rights reserved under international and Pan-American copyright conventions. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without written permission from the author Steven L. Doran.

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