Tag Archives: kids

GEAR

Ahhh, mid-summer. The prelude to fall…my favorite time of year.

Cicadas have begun to echo their rattling song in the lush heavy-ness of a quickly approaching August. The day’s heat is trading its oppressive edge for a longer shadow. All the busy-ness that’s accumulated since the winter is passing in one great, final exhale right about now, and a modest measure of free-time is quietly making its way back, like the unconditional love of a good hunting dog.

While this free-time lets me get back to some much-needed fishing, it’s also when I’m able to get my bow out, stand twenty paces from a 3D target and wake up the shooting muscles that have been asleep since last season. The kids love when my free-time returns, when all my hunting gear starts appearing again from the barn. They know dad’s going to be taking them along for the ride. Aleida’s about the right age for her first bow. Cam’s not far off.

It could be that I just celebrated my 20th high school reunion this past weekend. It could be that we hosted a surprise party for my dad’s 60th birthday this past weekend too – I’ll get back to these. But when I pulled my bow out of its case at the range last night, it struck me just how much my dad has handed down to me, specifically as an outdoorsman.

There’s the obvious: All three bows I’ve hunted with, including the Mathews I shoot now, were dads previously. My first shotgun, a bolt-action 12 gauge Mossberg, was his as a kid, and I hunted with it until its retirement a couple seasons ago (there’s a story for another post). There are brand-new boots that just didn’t fit him right, hunting jackets, Pendleton shirts, my first tree-stand, fishing lures, rods and reels, knives, flashlights, a thermos or two. The list goes on.

Handing down the tools of the trade, so to speak, was his way of making sure I had what I needed for a good start, and would get me out in the woods with him at least once. Where I took it from there would depend on my own moxie. I’ve always valued these gifts because they were his and because I know how much he loves the outdoors. But the gear is only part of the inheritance. The stories and lessons, friendship and time together…those are the real deal. That’s a hand-me-down that’ll still be there when all the gear has worn out.

As I said, my 20th just went into the record books, as did my dad’s birthday. Sunday afternoon a handful of my friends made their reunion-exhausted way, with spouses and kids, over to our place for one last cookout. We turned the kids loose on the pool, sodas and chips and simply relaxed in the sun. Watching the kids and how they interacted with each other was like watching little versions of us. They weren’t perfect, but if there was an issue, they managed to figure everything out and get back to getting along.

The next day, my dad’s shin-dig brought out a bunch of his old buds from school…folks who have known me since I came home from the hospital some 38 years ago, brand-spankin’ new and carrying my dad’s first name. At one point, the boys were telling one of my dad’s friends, an avid outdoorsman, stories about catching bass and getting to shoot a .22 for the first time. Excited and proud as all get-out, you’d have thought just discovered Disneyland in their backyard. My dad’s friend looked up, winked at me and said, wonder where they get that from.

Exactly.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, In the woods, On the water

EAGER FISH. THE VIDEO.

While the phone didn’t play nice for Saturday’s outing, it made up for itself on Sunday with the boys. Here’s a little recap of the afternoon… put to Taj Mahal’s Fishin’ Blues (w/Vassar Clements).

Father’s Day Fishin’ from Matt on Vimeo.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, On the water

THE GLORY OF EAGER FISH

Saturday’s kayak excursion delivered one very nice largemouth (see below), a mess of panfish, a lot of paddling and a chance to see one of the two resident bald eagles that patrol the south end of the lake and the river. I managed to get these shots of the eagle before my phone crapped the bed.

The lookout

Freedom in flight

There was something in the mythology or attitude or presence of that bird that was tremendously empowering and settling at the same time. He was a talisman, a force of nature, an entire nation perched and vigilant. But he was a fellow fisherman as well, with the patience of time…confident in the fortune of instinct. It didn’t matter if I caught a single fish at that point. I was happy to simply be sharing the same circle of existence.

We wrapped up the evening with wings, burgers and some barley pops. After I got home and unloaded my gear, I crawled into bed and fell asleep with thoughts of the boys fighting scrappy Father’s Day bass dancing in my head.

Big flies. Big fish.

The next morning arrived bright and early…the kids descending on me with PJs, bed-head and handmade cards and crafts. I hadn’t even barely put a foot on the floor next to my bed when the conversation turned to:

When are we fishin’ dad?

How many minutes till we go?

Can I go get my tackle box from the barn?

Oh yea…mom got BACON for breakfast!

Father’s Day isn’t Father’s Day without bacon for breakfast.

After church and a couple small chores around the house, the boys and I were off to catch bass. The ladies elected to stay and enjoy the pool, and some peace and quiet.

I had mentioned that the bass ponds on my in-law’s property are easy pickin’s. I don’t think I mentioned that the ponds are on their golf course. Bass fishing with my boys on a golf course on a blue-bird, Father’s Day afternoon. Like Old Milwaukee, it just doesn’t get any better than this. We loaded the gear on a golf cart, waving to foursomes and smiles and shouts of Good luck! as we made our way back to the pond at hole #3.

My youngest, Jonah, struck green first. His first full-size rod and reel, and his first bass. When he had backed the fish safely on the grass, he let loose some fist pumps like he just boated a tarpon…or won the Masters. Cam quickly followed suit with his first fish of the afternoon.

A few Gatorades and a few hours later, Jonah finished with 6 or 7 fish. Cam was not far behind. The sun was still high. Golfers were stopping to watch and clap for hook-ups. The boys were rock stars. We called it a day, grabbed a couple red-hots at the clubhouse and hit the road.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, On the water

ON THE HORIZON

Father’s day is this weekend. I honestly had no idea. I’ve got to get out from under this rock…

Now that I’m cognizant of the fact that it’s Dad’s weekend…I’m going to do some fishing.

Saturday will find me and another friend in our kayaks at the south end of Canandaigua Lake and on up into the West River. We’ll be chasing bass and pickerel with fly rods, primarily. Who knows, a few rogue browns and bows might still be lurking around.

Sunday I’ll be taking the kids out to the bass ponds out at my in-law’s place. You’ve heard of shootin’ fish in a barrel…doesn’t get more target rich than this. They never get bored. Neither do the fish.

We’re also heading down to Hendersonville, NC next weekend to visit some family…aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandma. Need to get the kids down there to spend some time with great-grandma Nora while we have some time to get away… and while she’s still with us. I think it’s going to be a difficult reality for my oldest to wrestle with, but she’s blessed with “old-soul” insight– she’s got an uncanny knack for understanding.

Usually there’s a golf outing with my Dad and uncles on trips like this. Probably will be again. But I’m going to take one morning and cast small flies to big trout on the Davidson River. I mean, it’s only a half hour drive from Hendersonville… of course I’m going to escape for a morning. I’ve been in touch with Cameron Mortenson from The Fiberglass Manifesto, whose home territory includes the Davidson, and he’s been generous enough to pass on some river intel. I’m psyched.

So, stay tuned for pics, possibly another video or two. And in case I don’t get a chance to holler again before…
Happy Father’s Day.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, On the water

THE TRIP. THE VIDEO.

One very cool thing about this blog is the fact that my kids, when they’re old enough to appreciate it, will have a pretty exhaustive chronicle of who their dad is – through writing and pictures. I get the biggest kick out of looking at old photos of my parents when they were young and full of promise (translated: before mom was pregnant with me). The best are the backyard BBQ’s – dad in cut-off jean shorts, no shirt and a kick ass mustache. Mom in a tank-top, long hair and always side-lit by sun. I’m happy that my kids will have the same opportunity to get a kick out of my meandering.

On my trip, I was able to go one further than just snapping pics though. I took some video too…and it needs to be mentioned that all the pics and video I took were on my Droid. Freaking cool. So, over the last few evenings, I spent a little time editing some live-action and a handful of stills. I’m not smelling any Emmys, but it’s as true as it gets to the great time I had on the road, game-trails, boulder fields and water with Josh. Enjoy.

Traveling Riverside Blues from Matt on Vimeo.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, On the water