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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Final Hunt

Life - an arrow flying through the woods. 
This is a snapshot about two fine men.

Bob Walker pioneered hearing protection with the founding of Walker's Game Ear -
a company he eventually sold. You will never find an individual with a more positive outlook. 

These men both had a great run but unexpectedly, their arrows found a tree and their soaring flights ended prematurely. They were young and should be hunting today but they have now passed from our earthly hunting grounds. An arrow sometimes finds a tree and just stops. It stops hard.

If one person remembers a man, the man lives on .... and that is certainly the case with these gentlemen. Many in the outdoor community knew them and appreciated their friendship and wisdom. Bob was the ultimate entrepreneur with his Game Ear, a device worn in the ear to amplify sound. Bob knew that as hunters aged, their ability to hear the "crunching of leaves or the breaking of a branch signaling the approach of a deer diminished."  He always said it that way! Bob used the proceeds from his business venture to build a house on a mountain in Pennsylvania where he spent memorable times with family and pursuing his passion for hunting turkeys and deer. 

Bob combined hunting and his knowledge of hearing aids and established a whole new category in sporting goods. He used to say that his product was the first item sold in the Cabela's catalog that used a battery. Bob passed earlier this year after a fierce battle with leukemia.

Over 10 years ago, another arrow stopped prematurely at age 54. Art Carter was the Editor of Sporting Classics magazine and was a prolific outdoor writer and photographer. I hunted turkeys in the Spring of 2003 in South Carolina with Art but he was gone by the summer of that same year after complications following a routine surgery. He was writing about the fine craftsmanship of the leading turkey call makers at the time. We had a fine turkey hunt together and today, I think about Art every time I turkey hunt. I was just learning the game and he was an instant mentor. He told me two things as we sat together trying to call in a gobbler. According to Art, 

1- There is sitting "deer hunting still" and "turkey hunting still". When pursuing turkeys, a hunter needs to be so quiet and stealthy that  "deer hunting still" is far too much movement.

2 - The other thing he emphasized is that turkeys have no schedule.  They are not in a rush. They will often take their sweet time coming to a call and a Tom turkey can test your patience.

Sitting right next to Art, I must have been moving around too often and a bit impatient. Later that day, I was successful in taking a bird that I called in myself as Art set me free armed with new guidance and skills. Art was a sportsman --- the Russell Company named a chukka hunting boot after him - "The Traveling Sportsman" and it is still a big seller today - easy to find with a quick internet search. These men live on in interesting ways.

Following our Turkey Hunt, Art sent me his latest book
with a nice note. We enjoyed each other's company.
Art was well placed as the Editor of
Sporting Classics Magazine.

The moral of the story is that we just don't know when our arrow will stop. The only guarantee is that your Final Hunt will take place one day..... you just might not know it at the time. Don't take a day for granted and give it your all when afield. It can be cold, it can be wet and windy but by golly, give it your all and appreciate the moment and find happiness like these men did. 

When I get up in the morning, I promise myself that I will hunt with the optimism of a Bob Walker and appreciate my gear and doing things right just like Art Carter always did. 

Chuck Matasic - Kodabow Crossbows