Not long ago Pete Harsh, Pro Walleye Fisherman and guide was a guest on Fan Outdoors radio. I’ve known Pete since grade school days as we’d both found ourselves getting home from school heading through our back yard over the railroad tracks and into the Sinclair Lewis Park carrying minnow bucket, reel ‘n rod with a stringer tucked into a jean pocket. The “Big Rock,” or so I called it along the Big Sauk Lake shoreline was often a personal hot spot. Sometimes too we’d venture a bit further to get below the dam – the sweet spot was a fenced off area near the spillway on private ground or so we thought. Pete’s made a career of catching walleye in competitive events across the U.S. garnering him fame, dollars and the nickname “Mr. Tiller” for an obvious reason he shared on the air. (Listen at http://www.kfan.com/media/podcast-kfan-outdoors-KFAN_Outdoors/ 1/11.14) We talked of the how’s n why’s of catching walleye and then Bob asked him “why walleye ‘n not bass, pike or musky?” Pete’s answer really caused me to pause and think. He said his dad liked fishing walleye and would often take him to northern Minnesota to catch them.
Now stop for just a moment to think about something you really like to do. Not necessarily make your living at but something you’re passionate about. It could be birding, running, sports, cooking or camping. For me and for Pete it’s fishing and hunting. But have you ever wondered why? It wasn’t until out of college that I began deer hunting and that was due to some Outdoor Life articles along with stories told by colleagues and friends. Dad had no interest in hunting deer so it was all foreign. But determined to try off I went into the world of deer hunting. It was at least three or four years before any amount of success could be claimed and truth be known the first deer was more like the blind squirrel ‘n nut story often told than something more resembling deer hunting. But through a process of trial and error (lots of that) a certain skill level was achieved. Then years later along came my sons Erik and Chad who each had a genuine excitement in the prospect of hunting deer. So we continued but they became my main reason for going afield in search of the Whitetail. On their first few hunts I was always close by sometimes even sitting on a bucket on the other side of a big oak a couple feet away as they faced the other direction. As years passed college forced miles between us, their schedules demanded time along with the other aspects of growing up. Thus it’s been about 4 years since I’ve really gotten into a deer hunt without them not counting 2 years ago when Erik actually took me on a deer hunt. But the inner force driving me to deer on a personal level has changed and doesn’t seem so important now.
So back to Pete’s answer about why walleye? His reply was “my dad loved to catch walleye!” Now how about me? I make little if any claim to possessing many walleye-catching skills. Of course it’s fun to do but takes us back again to the blind squirrel deal. What I really enjoy and love to do is fish for bass, large and smallmouth. The puzzle is intriguing and when figured out it’s extremely satisfying. For years people have asked “why bass, you don’t keep them anyway?” Our Fan Outdoors conversation with Pete made the “why” obvious it’s because dad loved to fish bass! Sure with different and less advanced techniques, there were 5 ½ horses pushing us then and I’ve sometimes had 250 of them behind me but the foundations came from dad and the excitement he found and passed on. An excitement that certainly has lasted the test of time and for that I am eternally thankful.
Erik and Chad are both young adults now and hopefully like my dad had done for me my successes with them in the outdoor world, hunting and fishing will carry on. Unlike deer when Chad, the youngest left of college I wasn’t sure I’d still enjoy bird hunting so giving it the ultimate test of trying it alone along with the 2 dogs we headed to a field I’d hunted with dad and more recently both boys but this time alone. Not so sure of the result the 2 hour drive seemed longer than usual but just a few minutes into the hunt Molly flushed a rooster and down it came. Tess made the retrieve and Molly put up a second even closer. Gun on shoulder the fact that I’d be done so soon with a 2 bird limit was an instant thought resulting in “no shot!” This hunt proved that the bird hunting foundation was and is to this day as solid as ever and for that thanks are in order. Thanks Dad! Even though you’re gone I owe you and always will for the passions you instilled in me! My hope, as a dad too that I’ve been able to build a couple foundations just as solid! Time will be the proof but I honestly think we did it!
So how about you? Where did some of your passions originate? I’ll bet there was a significant person in your past too-might be dad or someone else willing to take the time to nurture, teach and cultivate a life-long passion! I certainly hope so! Be sure too to pass it on. It’s that important!!!!!