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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Old Buck






By Chris Larsen  who writes for foremosthunting.com.

Despite the title, this story isn't about an wily, experienced buck. In fact it's not about a deer at all. My Grandpa was affectionately known as "The Old Buck". And you'll notice I didn't call him my grandfather, he was my Grandpa. He was a tall, slender man with wide shoulders and Danish likeability. He didn't have a braggart style confidence. He carried himself with a calm coolness.


Grandpa introduced me to the outdoors. He took this young, whippersnapper to the city park pond to wait for bobbers to disappear. Back in those days, we didn't filet panfish. Grandpa would cut the heads off, gut 'em, and scale 'em. From there, he'd roll them in flour and pan fry them. I haven't had panfish like that since then. Our outings weren't always successful. In those cases, we would cruise up to the local diner for a "walleyed-pike" dinner. I don't want to sound like an old man, but that's what walleye was called back in those days and once in a while I still see "walleyed-pike" today.

As I became a little older, our fishing trips took place a little further north. We would take grandpa's RV up to the Hayward, Wisconsin area. Soon after, I would be armed with a Chinese made, break barrel pellet gun. It was powerful enough to pass a .177 pellet straight through a squirrel. But every year as Grandpa, Dad, and Uncle Bob would load up for their annual trip to Wyoming, I would be left at home.

One year before I could legally hunt, I was finally allowed to head west with the elder Larsen men. The plan was to tag along with Grandpa and learn the essentials of mule deer hunting in the Rocky Mountain foothills. I'm not sure why he was stuck with me, but he was. I'm sure it was just another opportunity to teach his grandson something.

The morning after we pulled into the Eastern Wyoming ranch, Grandpa and I were walking ridges while keeping our eyes peeled for big mulies. I don't recall seeing any deer, and I know we didn't get one. But we kept walking. Every time I wondered what to do next, he said, "keep walking." Gramps did pop a coyote. I'm not sure how things are these days, but back then cattle ranchers were happy to pay a bounty for any dead coyote.

One particular morning stands out above the rest on that trip. It was a fairly warm day, sweatshirt weather to be precise. We had walked for a few hours when suddenly he stopped. By this time, I knew to stop with him. I started scanning the opposite ridge and saw nothing. When I looked back The Old Buck was just standing there, but his legs were crossed like a corkscrew. I asked him a question that seemed totally plausible to a 13-year-old hunting newbie, "Is that an ancient Indian hunting stance?" Grandpa chuckled and said, "No, I gotta take a dump!" And that's when I learned to always carry toilet paper.

A few months later I was finally able to apply for a hunting license. A few months after that, I learned another one of life's biggest lessons. We're not guaranteed anything in this life and that hunt I shared with Grandpa would be his last. The Old Buck had cancer and he died a few weeks before we would have left for Wyoming. We never made that trip. And for a wide variety of reasons, I've never been back. Grandpa's last hunt may have ended in an unfilled tag, but it was clearly a success. His knowledge lives on with me and I'll pass it along to his great-grandson. Despite never meeting The Old Buck, my son will know the importance of carrying toilet paper, that nothing in life is guaranteed, and to always.... keep walking
 
Thanks a ton for the great article Chris you are welcome to guest post any time here at Ben G. Outdoors.


4 comments:

Mark said...

Nice post. I don't recall ever hunting with my grandfathers - we mostly fished together. It seems no matter how much time we had with them it was never enough.

Lech112 said...

Great story. Chris' grandfather would be happy to know that Chris got me interested in hunting and fishing.

Well done post, thanks for sharing Ben G.

Ben G. said...

Mark- I never hunted or fished with either of my grandfathers both were farmers and didn't have time for hunting and fishing.

Lech112- I agree sweet post Chris!

heyBJK said...

Great story about your grandpa, Chris! It hits home with me since it's only been a few months ago that my grandpa passed away. Thanks for sharing!

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