Yesterday during a quiet moment I walked by a wildlife print on the cabin wall given as a gift by a friend and although it’s been hanging there for years the image suddenly overflowed with a special and very personal meaning.  The print is titled Granddads Legacy by R.J. Mcdonald showing a young boy in camo duck gear seated in a jon boat nestled inside cattails with an old Browning hump back A5 semi-auto shotgun resting neatly in his lap.  Pictured above him is a faint memorable image of a grey-haired mustached old hunter in the clouded sky gazing into the distance with ducks in flight and a sunrise in the background.  The boy too is looking over his shoulder in the same direction almost as though the time that’s passed really hasn’t changed the sunrises or the ducks that have flown through time over countless marshes watched by generation after generation of waterfowler each with excited anticipation for the day ahead.  I’ve walked past that same print hundreds maybe thousands of times but this time it caused me to pause and simply stare.  The boys’ jacket sports a conservation-minded DU patch but perhaps the reason it was such a personal moment was the A5 he’s holding.  It could just as well have been me as a boy.   One of the first guns I shot belonged to dad and was the same A5 Belgium Browning.  That wistful image of the man above could also have been my dad or so many other dads who’ve been responsible for passing outdoor passions on to a next generation.

As a young man I seldom if ever gave any consideration to thoughts requiring similar reflection but as time passes it’s funny how priorities change with it.  Few of us are able to pick up an outdoor experience turn it into a lifelong passion and be able to find a real and genuine meaning to it without guidance.  Most serve time as an outdoor apprentice in early years.  It’s here skills, safety, compassion, sportsmanship and a genuine love of the sport are nurtured as they slowly become our own.  For many this person is a parent or a significant adult in their lives.

Sometimes my thoughts wander too.  What would life have been like without the outdoors?  Honestly I can’t imagine how empty mine would be.  My hunting dogs, and many have lived in my house over years past have been a source of not only enjoyment but they’ve taught me lessons too along the way.  Patience being just one example.  The hours, days, months and years spent together with my sons, Erik and Chad hunting and fishing would not have taken place.  The “firsts” such as first deer, first big bass, first duck (with Erik it was a hen Redhead and Chad’s was a Blue Wing Teal and simply shutting my eyes brings both into vivid focus instantly), first bass tournament win, first time skinning a deer or first time field dressing the same.  Those and so so many more simply wouldn’t have happened and honestly I can’t even imagine what life would have been like.  Maybe more importantly for me I would not have found the same meaning and pleasure for all the years past and those yet to come without Mother Natures’ wonderful outdoors.

So you see now it all brings us back to the painting on the wall.  Is it simply colors on a canvas by someone I’ve never met or is it more?  I know the right answer for me do you which is the correct one for you?  Can you see yourself in the painting too?  If so which one of the two pictured are you?  Maybe if you’re a bit like me it’s both!