Another Christmas is fading into the distance, and the sweet aroma of freshly cooked pies around the dinner table now has become an extra hole punched in your belt. Many of the new treasures you unwrapped on Christmas Day already have been tested, and found their way among the everyday items around the house.
But this special holiday has once again created memories with friends and relatives that will be remembered long after the Christmas tree makes its departure. It seems like such a letdown that we only get one day every year to pick out just the right gift for that special someone and feel the overwhelming joy that floods our heart as we witness the enthusiasm that new treasure brings to the person receiving it – especially after spending countless hours in shopping malls and specialty shops in search for that unique gift sure to spread a priceless smile across a face.
You always know your choice was a success when you’re taken by a spirit of giving in the checkout line that makes you want to tip the cashier. It’s that idle time you spend waiting your turn at the register that allows you to envision your friend or relative peeling back the wrapping paper and fishing their gift from the rubble as a warm smile of appreciation illuminates the room.
Christmas comes only once a year, but gift giving doesn’t have to, especially for sportsmen who like nothing better than casting a dry fly on a trout pond while the sound of hungry fish breaks the surface. Or for the hunter who has shed hundreds of calories over the years climbing ridges and sneaking through swamps hoping to catch a deer off-guard.
Sportsmen are holding gifts money can’t buy and the most prestigious credit card won’t accept.
Some of you are hoarding so many, you could start passing them out today and still leave this Earth with a few unwrapped packages. But I’m not insisting you should dress up in a red suit every weekend and search out chimneys to deposit packages in.
The gifts I’m alerting you to don’t come in packages and cost nothing to pass out. I’m talking about the knowledge you’ve accumulated over the years pursuing the outdoor sports you treasure so much. Dating back to your first deer hunt, trailing close to Grandpa’s boot straps and taking immediate action to his every command. The last thing you wanted to do was fail to carry out an order, or destroy an opportunity at a deer for the man you’ve always looked up to. But little did you know, at this time Grandpa had it all under control and knew the thoughts you were battling in your mind. After all, he’s been in your shoes and probably walked across the same log behind his grandfather.
Others started their collection of gifts wading across the rocky bottom of a trout brook, taking close aim to cast a fresh night crawler tight inside the boundaries of a deep hole, partially hidden beneath the bank of the stream. It was that trip that showed you investing in a creel would assist greatly on future trips.
All these new endeavors we encounter on each new outing continue to mold us and leave a new gift of wisdom to add to your bag of tools for the coming season.
For each new gift there is someone waiting to receive it with open ears. It may be your boy or girl who has been longing for the chance to accompany you on a trip to your favorite trout hole. But their lack of experience in the field hinders them from asking you. So they continue to watch your every move and lean on your words at every opportunity in hopes of gaining knowledge of the sport.
When you’re not looking, they’re peering through the crack of an unclosed door to your den as you apply a coat of head cement to a streamer fly, and try to put the pieces of this puzzle called fishing together for themselves. If you could hear your kids’ thoughts, their most charted gift beneath the tree would have been their first hunting or fishing license.
How about those school buses carrying kids who would give up their lunch for the chance to see a Labrador retriever work its magic during duck season? But unfortunate situations in life leave them standing in the shadows, or at best viewing a pair of hunters disappearing in the woods, through the window of a passing school bus.
Let’s not get so caught up with ourselves that we forget to share the treasures these great outdoors have blessed us with. After all, who will be there to carry on this tradition if we don’t pass it to the next generation of sportsmen? Don’t be surprised if one of these young sports shows you a thing or two.
Answer to last week’s question: Alaskan brown bear.
This week’s question: What is the most common misconception about white-tail deer?
– NEWS staffer Terry Farren, outdoor_report@bangordaily