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Into the Outdoors: Recollections of an Old Squirrel Hunter

Earlier this month, something happened which really made me feel good. I have, of course, been unable to fish for trout due to cataracts and the subsequent surgery to deal with them. Three anglers, Jack Sweeney, Junior Sweeney and Maddox Beham brought me a nice batch of trout. This was a really nice gesture on their parts. I have often thought that a bond exists among outdoor folks, and this reinforced that belief for me. I cooked them up for supper the same day. They were delicious. Many thanks to those fellows.

My vision is getting better by the day, and I hope to wet a line soon. Being out of commission for awhile, I am especially grateful for my memories of outdoor activities. I decided to share a few of my favorites with you. I know that younger readers sometimes wonder why us old geezers spend so much time thinking about the past. Trust me when I say that you will understand someday.

I have been blessed with a good memory, so I can relive things that happened many years ago. Among my fondest is my first hunting season, hunting with my dad. I couldn’t begin to know how many squirrels I have bagged over the years, but one will always stand out. That would be the first one I ever got. My dad kicked a hollow log. Out ran a squirrel, which started up a tree. I aimed, fired and down it came. I was so excited that I wanted to go home right away to show it to my mom. My dad cleaned it, and my mom cooked it up. I could hardly contain my pride as I chowed down on it.

On my wall hangs a set of spike antlers. Of course, they were legal at the time they were taken. That was the last time I hunted with my dad. My mother had died the week before, and I convinced him to accompany me. I have gotten a number of larger racks since then, but that one will always be extra special.

Another memory that has stayed with me for forty five years or so is the first trout I ever caught on a dry fly. A fellow teacher took me to his camp in Sullivan County. After hours of flailing about, I hooked, and landed, a nice brook trout. I still have the fly to this day. I also have the wet fly with which I caught the first trout, again under the mentorship of a fellow teacher.

A major downside of reliving old memories is the realization of how many of the people involved are no longer with us. Gerald Wetzel, Paul (Punka) Lucas, Larry Crawford, Bill Kelsea, and Earl Lytle are long gone. They still live on in memories.

I hope you enjoyed my little look back in time. Perhaps it will awaken some memories of your own.

The weather has been nothing short of weird. As this is being written, the temperature registers eighty one degrees. A couple of days ago, it was spitting snow. Regardless, the signs of spring are everywhere. The lawn is covered with dandelions. A lot of folks think of them as pests, but I like them. There is just something cheerful about them. I usually have a meal or two of wilted dandelion greens each year. They are delicious, but a real pain to harvest. Some trees are blooming, and the leaves are coming out. It’s a wonderful time of the year, especially when you consider that next month is my favorite one of the year.

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