Along The Trail 6-26-14

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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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This past weekend, Drew and I made our annual trip to the banks of the St. Joseph River in Michigan and the Compton Traditional Bowhunters Rendezvous. For the past three years, it’s become a father and son long weekend for us.

Like most dads and sons, we have our ups and downs, but mostly ups. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to be the father of a 16-year old on the cusp of getting his drivers license. But then again, I’m sure it isn’t easy being the son of a middle-aged, classic ‘Type A’ personality father. Most of the time we don’t butt heads, but when we do – whew!

Our kids often take for granted what we as parents do for them. Even the best of kids can get a little greedy at times. This generation seems to be even a little more expectant and a tad more “me, me, me” – and my kids can be just as guilty as the rest.

But, sometimes as a dad, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees and I occasionally need a 2×4 against my head to see what’s right in front of my face.

Saturday evening, while listening to a guest speaker at the rendezvous give a presentation about hunting mule deer in Colorado, I bumped into a friend from Rochester, New York. Well, a friend in the sense that we chat over Facebook and a few other websites that cater to traditional bowhunters; but we’d never actually met in person. We “like” each others hunting photos and comment from time to time on the posts made online.

Regardless, we went on like old pals, talking about family, friends, bows and hunting.

We caught up with each other and then my friend asked if my boy was here this weekend. I told him that he was and he asked for Drew to come over so he could shake his hand. Now my “Facebook” friend had seen lots of photos of Drew’s hunting success and had followed along with his hunting stories; but like me, they’d never met.

Drew made his way through the large crowd and I introduced the two. A firm handshake and a head nod and then our new friend said he had something that he’d like to give to Drew.

A few minutes later, he returned with a beautiful handcrafted hunting knife, worth more money than I’d ever be willing to pay. He gave it to my son and told him it was his to keep.

We were both dumbfounded, as Drew thanked him and made his way back to his seat.

My newfound friend then shared a story with me about his 28-year old son and how over the years, the two of them would attend bow shoots and hunt together and basically do all the sorts of things that Drew and I have done for years.

He told me to cherish the time that we spend together and to hang onto those memories because all too soon, kids are grown and gone and the hunting, fishing and bow shooting gradually gives way to life and the reality of adulthood.

Although this man had never met me or my son in person, he recognized the kind of kid that Drew is and the young man that he is becoming. He also recognized the kind of dad I am and he saw something in me that he had experienced in himself. He saw that I’m lucky to have a boy like my son, something that I know too, but I oftentimes take for granted and forget just how blessed I’ve been with my two kids.

Thanks Al. Thanks for the beautiful gift that you gave Drew for being the kind of young man I’d always hoped he’d be and thanks for the 2×4 against my head for reminding me of it.

– David Hewitt