A few months ago I was manning a booth at a trade show, doing my best to act mature enough to justify my position. People shuffled by at a steady pace all day and I found myself conversing with a few of them from time to time. One man, in particular, stood out from the others in the crowd. He stopped by with no agenda and took a seat in one of the empty stools in the booth. He clearly wasn’t there to buy what I was selling so I didn’t even bother to try.
Tonight I am sitting in a new place along an ancient stonewall that cuts a straight line through towering oak trees that may be almost as old as the wall. Their very existence reminds me that I am not the only one to ever step foot here. Someone, a long time ago, placed each one of these stones by hand for some reason. If they could speak I wonder what they would say. And the old oaks that have watched this wall crumble over the years – I wonder what they would say.
Maybe they would tell stories of guys like me who sat in this same spot for hours on end. I can almost imagine an old man sitting on the wall under the big oak as the sun sets over the ridge behind him. His tired shoulders and weathered face tell me everything I imagine he’s thinking. After a long day of work and a hard life he’s come up to his favorite pile of rocks to sit and think. He’s thinking about his wife and kids, his work, and his faith. Before long I realize that I’m staring at a reflection of my older self.
Yesterday Colin shared with us what he has learned about tracking over the years (click here to read yesterday’s post). In Part two he shares a story that explains why it excites him so much. Enjoy the read!
A Novice’s Guide to Tracking: Part 2
by Colin Temple
Now for story time with Uncle Colin…
It all started that first year at camp on Newark Pond. At about 10 AM, on a cold sunny day with 3-4” of fresh powdery snow I picked up a track of what appeared to be a buck and a doe on a mission. They had been jumped out of the swamp we hunt by another guy in our hunting party so when I picked the tracks up and they were basically headed single file towards a gap between two small mountain peaks. The larger of the two was a nice track, but I wasn’t 100% sure it was a buck. After following the tracks for approximately half a mile they turned directly uphill and led me to a rub on a 4-5” diameter tree. At that point I knew I was not only tracking a buck, but a pretty good one at that.
When I was a young boy I remember rifling through any hunting catalogs that came in the mail. Every year without fail I would purchase something from one of those colorful, make-you-wanna-buy pages and couldn’t wait for the box to show up on the doorstep with my new item. One year I bought a bow which was my biggest purchase by far, but most of the time I bought something like camouflage pants or shirt that made me stand out from the older generation and helped me blend in with the leaves.
I still remember the day we met even though it was almost 15 years ago now. Little did we know but we were destined to become best of friends. You have seen me graduate high school and college, get married, build a house and begin a family. We have a storied history together and I’m sad to see it come to an end.
The contents of this letter may be hard for you to comprehend, especially since I didn’t warn you at the end of last season, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Please don’t take it personal. We were a great team and I’ll never forget the times we had together in the back yard and in the woods.