Grandpa is a Kid Again

Being raised the son of an avid outdoorsman in a rural area with fishing and hunting literally in our backyard, some of my earliest childhood recollections are of my father returning from a day afield. I would howl with glee seeing whatever he was lucky to catch or shoot. I find it amazing that I can still recall the strange smell of a pheasant or rabbits plunked on an old newspaper just inside the kitchen door. I must have been a real pain, hovering too close as he "undressed" them. Standing on a chair, a mess of crappie or smallmouth bass in my mother's sink are also distinct memories. And the aroma of that old electric fryer.

Horribly afflicted at a tender age, I took to running every creek bank and pond I could find. Chubs and sunfish landed on willow sticks and any old piece of string with a rusty hook were my first go at angling. Sight-fishing in its simplest form, we tossed worms we found under cow pies as they swam by. But it was high adventure and it set the stage.

Before long I was old enough to peddle a bicycle to fishing holes outside the immediate neighborhood and on lucky weekends Dad would load the whole family and sometimes some of my buddies for a day on the Allegheny River or Pymatuning Reservoir. Oar-powered jonboat strapped to the roof of a wheezing Ford Econoline.

From there I graduated to Lake Erie and the Chesapeake. Fishing was important in my family, when we were not hunting. Like my father, I have loved and still love it all. Everything from coonhounds to retrievers, cottontails to elk, doves to spring gobblers, rainbows to muskellunge and eventually saltwater. If he was still with us he'd still be going ninety-to-nothing, that was his style, and that's how he made me.

Before I knew it I had kids of my own work brought me to Texas. Today my son is as afflicted as he can afford to be, not financially so much as career and his own family responsibilities. My nine-year-old grandson is now in the trap and he is in love with everything that swims, crawls, flies and runs.

Handing down the love of the outdoors that my father gave me has become my newest passion. For a nine-year-old, every day in the field and on the water is a brand new adventure. Another opportunity to enjoy and learn and make memories.

It's awesome to look back on it all, my treasured memories in the outdoors, from tag-along pain-in-the-neck kid to grandpa that's hunted and fished in so many places. I know that my father must be smiling.

Passing along our love of the outdoors to wives, other family, friends, children and eventually grandchildren, is one of the greatest gifts we can give and a key player in the future of the sports of fishing and hunting. It is our job to keep the fire burning.

Don't wait until they are teenagers and, never put off a family fishing trip. They'll love you for it.
It's great to be a kid again.