More Men Like Them
By: Len Harris
My dad was the ultimate sportsman. He tried every fangled new thing that he read in the classic magazines. (Field & Stream and Outdoor Life). He always read them at the local gas station with the rest of the hunting and fishing fans.
His interests were diverse. You could see him on the stream with a bamboo fly rod in the 50s and 60s before bamboo became chic. Then you might be invited to the Harris laboratory to help him make a recurve bow in the early 60s.
I always had a birds eye view of all of the new projects. Being the only son, my dad thought I should watch and learn from each one of his ventures into the outdoors.
I still remember the guys from the local station coming to watch my father shoot his long bow in the back yard and watch him false cast in April with his bamboo fly rod.
My dad would take out lots of the local young guys fishing and hunting. He tried to expose the young guys to the proper ways of being an outdoorsman.
He would target the boys without father or fathers that weren't outdoorsy. It was kinda a quest of his. He would say..."If they respect the outdoors and can shoot a deer or clean a fish.....that was a good step to becoming a good man in adulthood." "Lots of the lessons of the outdoors translate directly into regular day living." My dad was adamant about that.
I was too little in the beginning to go hunting so i pretty much went only fishing with him. We were always joined by one of the local young men. I was always a little jealous when dad would head up north deer hunting and would have 2 or 3 local teenagers in tow to learn the ways of the outdoors.
I started going hunting with dad at 8. We went squirrel and pheasant huntin'. I usually helped the dog flush birds or tree squirrels while my dad and his hunting friends shot them. It was really fun being out there. I would always listen to the lessons my dad gave to the local young bucks. I figured it would be my turn soon and I would have a leg up on this hunting thing because I listened very carefully to the lessons taught.
November 1967. My dad didn't get a deer locally so he was going up north to his mother's home near Trego to deer hunt. He called all of the local kids to see if they wanted go. None could go. They either had filled their tags or had to stay close due to basketball practice. My dad left on his own the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
I know I'm jumping quite a ways ahead but it seemed like time flew after that. I was 16 years old and an accomplished angler already. My mother made sure she kept me in fishin' poles and lures.
I yearned to go hunting. My mother seriously disliked hunting ever since 1967 when my father died while deer hunting. She forbid me to use any of my father's guns and sold off the majority of them. My mother told me I could use the one gun she saved for me when I was an adult and not before then.
It was opening day of squirrel season. I went to the local gas station and saw all the guys talking about how good the squirrel hunting was. One of the guys that my dad used to take was there. He asked how my hunt had went. I told about my mother's rule about hunting. He was really taken aback. He couldn't believe that Lenny Harris' son was not allowed to go hunting.
It was Sunday morning about noon. There was knock on the door. I answered it. It was Jim Chellevold, the guy from the gas station from the day before. He wanted to talk to my mom. He reminded my mother about how Dad had taken him hunting as a teenager and how he loved the outdoors because of my dad. He asked if he could take me squirrel hunting. My mother himmed and hawed for a while but finally broke down and let him take me.
Jim took me to local gas station and he bought me my small game license and a box of 410 shells. We went back to my house and we inspected the pump 410 that had not been used in 6 years, ever since my dad died. Jim gave me a quick refresher on hunting safety in front of my mother to satisfy her and off we went squirrel hunting.
We came home 3 hours later and cleaned our squirrels in the back yard. Those 3 hours of squirrel hunting with Jim were beyond description. Jim told tall tales of when my dad had taken him hunting and fishing. He told me about dad calling and wanting to take him along in 1967......Jim had already filled his tag.
My mother was softened by the kindheartedness of Jim and allowed me to go hunting then. I went hunting a few more times with Jim and he taught me all of the things I missed from not having my dad teach me.
After those early outings, all of the young men that that my dad had taken hunting, now fully grown, took turns taking me hunting. Some of the older gas station crew took me also. I learned many things from all of them.
I wish there were more MEN like Jim/Judd/Geno/Cheesy/Rod/Pat/Sig/Sig Jr. in the world.
I don't smile often in photos. Sig Jr. took this photo. The reason I am smiling is because he said "You are a better trout fisherman than your old man."
Are you one of those MEN?