Along The Trail 4-16-15

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Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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I wind my way along US 127 between Owenton and Frankfort heading to the Kentucky Tradfest on further in Harrodsburg.

I’m looking forward to flinging some arrows, catching up with my buddies from across the river and maybe a little shopping or trading with some of the on site vendors. The Compton Traditional Bowhunters will have a booth at this year’s event and I’ll do some time there, visiting with friends and fellow bowhunters and hoping to recruit a few new members, but something just seems different this year.

Something’s missing….

For the last four or five years, I’ve made the early April pilgrimage to the shoot. The two hour drive through this part of Kentucky is one of my favorites. The curving road, the hills, the long low valley along Eagle Creek and the Kentucky River. The dogwoods and redbuds are popping with color and the ash and maples are already leaved out. Several days ahead of our foliage just a couple hours North.

Pulling through Frankfort, I’m always amazed at how small Kentucky’s state capitol city is and it’s out of the way’ness, middle of nowhere feel. I head out of the hills towards the bluegrass stretch towards Harrodsburg and the bow shoot and look at the empty seat next to me.

At the shoot, I admire the wares on display, custom made recurves and longbows, handmade arrows and knives, just about anything a traditional bowhunter would need. I help man our booth and chat with perspective members and talk with old friends and make some new ones. Hunting stories are told and laughs shared.

Discussions are had, some serious, some not. Questions asked and questions answered, most about bowhunting, but a few more personal and heartfelt.

The one question that was asked of me more than any other was “Where’s the boy?” or “Where’s Drew?”

Dozens of times it was asked and answered.

For years now, my son has accompanied me to all sorts of bow shooting events. Indiana shoots, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio. He’s traveled with me to Kansas City, Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis to traditional bowhunting events and for a time, he was just the shy kid, the son of David Hewitt, but he gradually came into his own.

He developed a reputation among a lot of the old coots in traditional bowhunting circles, both for his shooting skill and for the success he had gained while hunting with traditional archery equipment at a young age.

He was always the kid that was polite and quiet, respectful, but at the same time earning respect from this group of fellas that in today’s world, aren’t overly impressed with our youth.

Several of my fellow traditional shooters have seen Drew grow up and they always liked to razz him every chance they could. Most of the time about hunting or a missed shot, but plenty of times about life, high school and all that goes along with being a teenager, which for a boy that meant being ribbed about girls.

A lot of the time, it was in one ear and out the other and he seemed like the kind of kid that wasn’t phased by good looks and charm. He seemed more at home in the woods, hunting, fishing and trapping and all of our pals joked with me about my son dodged the “dating” bullet.

But then comes along “the one”, we all knew that same feeling.

Spring, the prom season, dresses, tuxedos and a pretty girl. Well, that’s a tough combination to compete with when you’re vying for a 17-year old boy’s attention!

So the answer to the oft asked question I fielded this weekend was that I lost out to the prom and the boy’s date and all of my buddies and I laughed about it and reminisced about our own youth and dipping our toes into the world of dating as a teenager.

We as parents all prepare ourselves for the time when our kids jump from one stage to the next, but we’re never really ready when that time comes. Just as with my daughter and her leap into adulthood, I expect as my son continues to grow, our time together will be less and less.

I think back to my teenage years and drivers license and how the fishing trips with my own dad became fewer and less frequent as independence grew at the end of an ever longer rope my parents gave until they finally cut it and released me.

I made the quiet, thought-filled drive back from the bow shoot to General Butler State Park and the Switzerland County Jr/Sr Prom in time to see my son and his date. Both dressed in their best, he looking like a fine, handsome, young man – no sign of a kid, no more awkward, goofy teenage stage, just a tall, lean sinewy man standing there in his black tux. Proud of him, I swallowed the lump in my throat hard, gave him a firm handshake and sent him on his way.

I drove home, thinking about the times he and I have shared over our hunting, the memories we’ve made and I smiled and felt content.

“See ya in a the woods, Bud!”

- David Hewitt