Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Five Reasons I Should
Have My Own Outdoor Television Show
1.   I’m incredibly good looking, just ask me and I will gladly tell you. Plus I think we can all agree we need more women in our sport. What better way to add the fairer sex to our ranks than by having my Brad Pitt like physique promoting it on television. (Eat your heart Harley Jackson.)

2.  Bird dogs are way better at hunting birds than I am. I figure most folks most watching bird hunting shows want to see decent dog work as opposed to me missing birds all day with both barrels, which I do with alarming frequency. 

3.  I’ve occasionally been known to get lost. OK I have gotten lost A LOT. I have a buddy who has yet to let me live down the fact that I once got lost in plot of WIHA in Kansas….one of the flattest places on earth. Each episode I could “accidently” get lost. The revenue from GPS advertisements alone would be astronomical.

4.  Tom Knapp is a world class shooter. But after watching any show with him in it or any other great shooter for that matter is terribly detrimental to your morale. I miss with such frequency that viewers of my show will think they are the next Tim Bradley or perhaps the reincarnation of Annie Oakley. This will lead to delusions that they could just clean house on out of state hunting trips. Can you say hunting lodge & tourism advertisements?

5.  And lastly did I mention my Brad Pitt like Physique?

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    The Old Man and the Boy

     I am sure most of you are familiar with Robert Ruark’s “The Old Man and the Boy”. But if not, let me give you a little brief insight into my favorite book by Mr. Ruark. In 1953, Ruark began writing a series for Field & Stream magazine entitled The Old Man and the Boy. Considered largely autobiographical (although technically fiction), this heartwarming series ran until late 1961. Many of the articles in the series were collected into a book of the same name, followed shortly thereafter by another companion book entitled The Old Man's Boy Grows Older. The stories were punctuated by the philosophical musings of the Old Man, who was a character modeled after both of Ruark's grandfathers, though based mostly on Ned Adkins, Ruark's maternal grandfather. In the stories, young Bob Ruark grows up hunting and fishing in coastal North Carolina, always guided by the Old Man. However, the pain of his parents' difficult domestic life and his relatively few childhood friends - Ruark, something of a child prodigy in school, was a loner - are tellingly absent from the stories. Today these two books are his best remembered works; his other novels are long out of print. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ruark(less) I was first introduced to this classic novel in 2009 during my second deployment to Iraq. I was extremely please to discover that the story came close to reflecting the experiences I had has a kid growing up in Kansas, and being taught by my maternal Grandfather to ethically hunt and fish. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but along the way he taught me quite a bit about becoming a man as well. I suppose most everyone had their own “old man”, but allow me to tell you a little about mine.

    Grandpa had a small farm about an hour east of Wichita, Ks. He worked as a maintenance supervisor at the local Archer Daniels Midland plant in my hometown of Fredonia, Ks but always had some sort of project going on at the farm. Cattle, pigs, goats, and of course coon hounds called that farm home. Some of my earliest memories of him are watching him cut and weld scrap metal into gates, fence corner posts and tons of other useful objects around the farm. Grandpa hunted deer but first and foremost he was a coon hunter that loved following the bawling of blue tick coon hounds through the creek bottoms that weaved their way through the Greenwood County landscape that he called home. My parents used to take me and my brothers every Friday to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner to be followed by butter pecan ice cream and if I was lucky a quick coon hunt with Grandpa. On those many hunts that I tagged along I must have asked a thousand questions. But he was always patient and answered every question regardless of how ridiculous. . It seemed like there was nothing he didn’t know about. Perhaps Ruark was talking about my “Old Man” when he said. “When you are as old as the old man, you know a lot of things that you forgot you ever knew, because they have been a part of you for so long.”Robert Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy

    I don’t recall exactly how old I was when I got my first gun. Maybe 11 or 12 I really can’t place the exact age, but I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was my birthday and my parents were having a party for me at our home. When it came time to open gifts, I unwrapped each and every one and thanked whoever it was from just like any well raised kid should. (thanks mom and dad) And just when I thought I was a done, a long white box was presented to me to by Grandpa. My fingers made short work of the package which soon revealed a brand new Daisy .22 Cal bolt action rifle. Like I said I don’t remember how old I was when I got that rifle, but I remember questioning in my head whether I was old enough. I took the gun out of the package and raced outside where I promptly sat on my haunches and leaned against the back of our house shouldering the rifle pretending it was a machine gun. (imagine Rambo type sound effects) What I didn’t know was that everyone was watching this from the kitchen window. I looked up and saw them, and immediately felt as though I had let him down. He felt I was old enough to have my own gun and here I was acting a fool not five minutes after receiving it. I vowed right then and there that I would do my best to make sure his trust in me was not a poor decision in judgement. “Any time a boy is ready to learn about guns is the time he’s ready, no matter how young he is, and you can’t start too young to learn how to be careful.” ― Robert Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy

    I was a blood thirsty kid, no other way to put it really. I am rather ashamed to admit that now, but at least I have come a long ways from the kid that wanted to shoot anything and everything, just because he could. It took far longer to outgrow the "It flies it dies" mentality then I'd care to admit as well. I still prefer a day, with a bird or two in my vest as opposed to coming home empty handed. But it's not the end all be all on whether I consider it a good day or not. These days dog work is primarily that deciding factor....but I digress. Grandpa wasn't a conservationist, at least I don't remember him that way. I don't recall him fretting over the declining numbers of Quail in our part of Kansas. That's not to say he didn't care, just that I don't remember him being concerned. But what I do remember is fishing a little pond in the pasture to the west of Grandma and Grandpa's house that was chock full of bullhead. I had brought that daisy rifle along for whatever reason, and being the blood thirsty heathen that I was. I was looking for something to shoot. I wasn't catching much off the fishing dock so I grabbed my rifle and rod and walked around the edge of the pond to find a spot that might prove to be more productive. While on my way to a better spot, I saw a rabbit hop out of the cover of a cedar tree, I flicked the safety off and shot him dead. And I had every intention of just leaving that rabbit lay. Later that evening I nonchalantly informed Grandpa of what I had done. His reaction made me immediately realize my Foley, and I soon found myself walking with a flashlight out to the pond to recover my rabbit. I learned how to skin a rabbit that day and I also learned that a man doesn't shoot what he doesn't plan on eating. “You might as well learn that a man who catches fish or shoots game has got to make it fit to eat before he sleeps. Otherwise it’s all a waste and a sin to take it if you can’t use it.” ― Robert Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy

    “Time just seems to fly away for a boy. That, I s’pose, is why one day you wake up suddenly and you ain’t a boy any longer.” ― Robert Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy
    Most of the memories that I have shared with you took place when I was no older than thirteen, yet they seem like they were just yesterday.  My "Old Man" Raymond D. Bumgarner was taken from this world on April 14th 2010.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, and I sincerely hope that never changes.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Outdoor Memories

    Being deployed is hard.  You have the obvious things that make day to day life difficult. Things like separation from loved ones, living conditions, unbearable heat, dust, food (don't get me started on that one) and a plethora of other things that make life as a deployed Soldier uncomfortable.  Then there is the ones that aren't so obvious.  They differ from person to person but I am confident everyone Soldier has their own cross to bear.  Mine is being away from home during Autumn bird season.  I have tried this year to combat the inevitable deployment depression by planning my midtour leave to coincide with Quail and Pheasant season in Kansas.  Now, I told my Commander I needed that date due to my anniversary which just so happens to be the 18th of Nov.  So....technically, I'm taking leave to coincide with my anniversary, but lets not get into semantics.  In the meantime, between now and November I will just have to console myself by remembering hunts that have come and gone.  And, of course living vicariously through the photos and emails of friends out there chasing the upland birds that I love so much.  I can always find solace in my outdoor memories despite whatever hardships I may be enduring at the time.