By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
Sitting on a rotting log watching darkness yield slowly to a glow in the east and hearing the first calls of the day from cardinals, thrushes and crows is one of life’s finest moments. Turkey hunters value such times.
When dusk has brought a hush over the lake and its surface is a mirror of the evening sky, the gurgle of your lure on the water and the drone of singing frogs speak tranquility and contentment. Anglers cherish these moments.
Alone with time to think in an elevated wooden box, built to overlook open woods or a green planting where deer like to move about, peripheral wildlife cheers our spirits.
Such times alone in nature’s bosom feed one’s soul and are at the heart of some of the best outdoor interludes. We long remember them.
There is another aspect of our outdoor experiences that stays foremost in our memories. It is the string of characters who share outdoor adventures with us. The people. Some exploits in the wilds are best enjoyed, and thus remembered, when one is alone. Yet many adventures would have long faded from our minds were it not for some special person or persons with whom we shared the times.
Take my father out of the old waterlogged wooden boat and leave me alone there some 60 years ago to make my first smooth casts with the new fly rod, and the image would not have stood the test of time. Those moments when there was more than bluegill fishing going on would have long faded from memory. I might not have found so expediently that other side of Daddy; the side beyond work and discipline and sternness.
That dove shoot at the little pond long ago would have been ordinary had not my young son dropped his first dove in the briar patch which I had to literally tear apart to find the dead bird. John had hunted with me several times, with all his shots from the little 20 gauge being misses. I had been afraid he would give up and forget about hitting flying birds. But beginning with that one shot that saw both of us leap into the air with joy, his favorite hunting pursuits almost 30 years later still involve wingshooting.
My brother and I roosted a turkey gobbler one evening in the 1970s in an area familiar to Ron. He told me how the logging road twisted through the woods where the bird had flown up for the night. The next morning I found my way to the best place from which to call the bird. That day I bagged my first wild turkey, which set me on a course of outdoor rewards that I count as my most cherished. And my story of that hunt found its way to Outdoor Life magazine, my title featured on the issue's cover. Ron got a bird that day too. The photograph of two smiling brothers hoisting tom turkeys is one-dimensional evidence of a multi-dimensional moment in my outdoor life.
Understandably, some adventures stick in one partner’s memory and not in the memories of the other party or parties to the happening. That is what makes getting together to reminisce so rewarding. A fellow came up to me once and gushed about what a great time he had on a squirrel hunt he made with me. The hunt supposedly took place in a county where I often hunted, some evidence that the hunt had actually happened. But so help me I can’t recall taking that guy squirrel hunting.
I suppose there are blank spots in one’s memory; little unexplainable glitches where the record gets erased somehow. Like losing a document from the computer screen.
But thank goodness that nearly all the fine times and the people with whom we shared them are waiting there in someone's memory, like great classic songs from other centuries housed on a compact disk that weighs less than a sparrow’s egg. Over and over we replay those good times and their resplendence grows with each playing. And sometimes, because of a trait called appreciation, the replays are just as inspiring as the original takes.