dug this up ..from a few year ago.
i just found this in my archives. i wrote it shortlyafter he lost a four year battle with cancer.
i want to share it with you all as a reminder to savor your friends and family, specialy during these holidays.
may your life be blessed with friends like mine.
The Last Hunt
We rolled into the cottage one or two at a time every year. Some came from as far away as Tennessee. Six or so good friends. Joking , teasing , boisterous laughter.
Stories and tales of previous adventures in the wood were told and retold. Always loved and freshened in our minds by the new adventure laying before us. Tales of ones that got passed us. Ones that ”there’s no way I could have missed”, but I did. Funny things we did and saw. Amaising feats of marksmanship.
Then the unloading of gear , clothing and food that we all knew was way more then we could use in a weeks time. But had to be brought , just in case.
Then digging out something to eat, and drink, and we sat around telling more stories, catching up on each others lives, and making fail proof plans for taking that monster buck this year. This went on year after year without fail. With a comforting regularity that such traditions achieve.
You know its coming. Only exact times and dates need to be worked out. It’s like a sweet dance that everyone knows the steps to. When the music starts the dance begins without a thought on the part of the dancers.
Last year was a little different. We hardly got out in the woods. I knew my hunting buddy wasn’t feeling well enough for that sort of labor.
I watched him constantly. Looking for any failure in spirit or energy. Making sure to give up and get him home before he got too tired . All the while trying not to let him know how it was wrenching my heart out to see him like that. And all the time, his heart, and courage kept him from showing any more than he had to that he was tired.
This year,part way into the week, I knew he couldn’t hit the woods again. I told him if I had my way I’d just as soon do some fishing. He perked up at that idea. I think he was greatfull for the out in a sense.
So this year my best friend, his son, and I went fishing at the marina in town.
The lake trout were running up the pigeon river and we sat and caught fish after fish.
Watching my friend, and his son enjoy this time together is a memory I will cherish for ever. I hung back and watched them as much as I could. A Dad and his son fishing together . Laughing. Back to those times when every fish was a new joyful discovery between them.
As the day progressed my friend showed signs of tiring and we called it quits for the day. My old smoker had died so I decided I would get a knew one as I knew how he enjoyed smoked fish. Next day we went into town and I got a nice delux propane
model, and we filled it up with nice slabs to smoke. We spent the next day or so fishing when we felt like it. Watching sports on tv. Cooking up good food. And enjoying each other. We visited friends at the bait shop, and had a nice meal at the local bar in town.
Soon the week was over and we packed and closed up the cottage for the year. We said our goodbyes. Shook hands. And made our way down the road.
I stopped at the river, and sat in my truck and tears rolled down my face.
I could see my friend and his son fishing there still. But I knew it was only wishful thinking. I knew in my heart this was our last hunt together.
I stopped at the bait shop, not ready to leave quite yet.
I wandered aimlessly for a few minutes. Then finaly got in my truck and headed home.
My friend passed away before the next hunting season rolled around. And with him my last hunting partner.
I know I could find another, but it’s just not in my heart any longer.