This is an incredible story that began back in 2005 and I want to share it with all.
The story is about a kid nicknamed Mikey who touched my life in a profound way like no other.
As a kid I was fortunate enough to be born into a family with a rich tradition for the outdoors and hunting and realestate. I am 51 years old and my dad started me out at the age of five walking with him while he hunted rabbits and pheasants in the early 60's. Five decades have passed and I have not lost my love for the outdoors. Bowhunting Whitetails and trapping are my two favorite pastimes. I was blessed with a son and I was fortunate enough that he too took up the sport of Bowhunting and trapping. This was the fifth generation carrying on the tradition in our family.
After years of learning the ways of the woods my son became very succesful in catching critters and shooting his bow and harvesting whitetails on his own. Trapping was one of his deepest passions in the outdoors and he became an avid trapper. This is where this story really begins. One day while running his trap line on my uncle's old farm my son ran into this kid next to where he was trapping standing at a distance watching him as he ran his traps. After couple times of witnessing this, my boy decided to approach this younger boy and strike up a conversation with him and learn a little more about who he was. The stranger was a kid who lived in the rental farm house next to the ditch my son was trapping on.
He was new to our area and community and was the only child living in this farm house with his parents. My boy never being shy was one of those kids who never met a stranger. After introducing himself to this new kid on the block one thing led to another and the next thing you know the boy was at my doorstep with my son at my farm. The boys name was Mike. For some reason my boy called him Mikey and that was his new name with us.
After Mikey met my son he kinda tagged along with him when ran his traps. Mikey lived out in rural America and had no other contacts his age living close by. He looked forward to seeing my son drive up along the rural road and run his trap line daily. This became a ritual and before you knew it Mikey was at my residence more and more doing whatever my son was doing. My son has this kinda soft spot in his heart for those who aren't so fortunate in life. He kinda gets it from his old man. Who got it from his old man who taught me at an early age everyone on earth is special and has purpose.
You see Mikey was not as fortunate as most kids were while growing up and he didn't get to participate in any reindeer games like most other young bucks did. (Get my drift here) This had a profound affect on this kid and his disposition on life. I had a good read on this kid from day one but really didn't get the full story until later down the line. When Dolly Parton sings her song about her sweater of many colors Mikey fell along those lines if you ever heard the song you understand what I'm saying.
Mikey was being exposed to things he never ever seen or witnessed before in his life tagging along behind a kid who cut his teeth on hunting and trapping. This made for some interesting observations to say the least. Before I knew it Mikey was taking his hunter safety course and was head first into trapping along the side of my son. After the season ended and spring come along and the next outdoor endeavor was Woodchuck hunting. This kid thought he died and went to heaven. Never before had he experienced such enjoyment and pleasure being engaged in something so rewarding then being in the great outdoors pursuing critters. He loved shooting whistle pigs with my boys 250 improved that summer. Wow! You're starting to see the transformation of a kid who just less then a year ago had no confidence in himself and very low self esteen and didn't have a good take on life at all. Blooming into something words can't describe.
By late summer my son and I started ramping up our archery practice and by August we are kicking Mr Glendels butt pretty hard. Many times Mikey was present when we would practice and before I knew it he had my boys first bow that he cut his teeth on in his hand set up and right in there beside us trying to learn the ins and outs of archery. Now, my first impression of this was not positive being it was late summer just learning to shoot a bow and I knowing what was about to unfold next. My son is gonna ask me if he can deer hunt with us this season. Bingo! You got it! Spot on dad. Now, this is a bird of a different color when it comes to bowhunting and just learning to shoot, let alone hold any kind of grouping of arrows, let alone someone who just a few short months ago never set foot afield to hunt anything. I held firm with my judgement on what I was witnessing and expressed my concerns about wounding animals. Couple weeks to go before deer season opens up and this kid is gonna bowhunt whitetails no-way. It ain't happening. Not enough time and besides he has not a clue about anything relating to whitetails, and the nature of deer or anything else related to whitetail hunting.
If there is one thing about me you would pick up on by being around me when hunting Whitetails you don't go about it half cocked. The last thing I want to do is educate deer in my hunting area. My son knows how serious I am when it comes to whitetails and preperation. All you have to do is look on my wall to understand that. Now I am faced with a situation I'm not comfortable with few weeks away from opening day archery season. Folks this kid was 15 yrs old and I don't believe he ever climbed a tree in his life until he met us. He was scared to death even thinking about climbing into a tree stand I had in my barnyard when we were practicing. He dove head first into trapping, loved shooting my boys rifle and shooting my boys bow but when it came time to learn about getting into a treestand it was like brakes on buddy this was not his cup of tea. Hand eye coordination was not in his cards by no means. Scared to death. The unknown, fear of height and that small platform was a hard pill to swallow for Mikey. Wow!
I don't believe Mikey was ever exposed to anything in life relating to hand eye cordination. What I was standing in front of was a kid who was a blank sheet of paper just months before. If you get what I mean? I had to hold my tongue with my son and kinda let things unfold in a natural way. I had to step back in time and reiterate what my dad taught me at a very early age that everyone is special on earth and has purpose. Just be calm don't over react things will work themselves out is what I had to repeat over and in my head.
After a lot of persuading and coaching and practicing Mikey got it figured out and was starting to get the hang of things after several up and down trips in the barnyard stand. Hewww! What a site it was. I kinda started to soften up and things started to kinda click as the days passed. My son was determined this kid was going to be hunting by opening weekend. Okay, whatever I think isn't gonna matter anyway so with that in mind I give in. We now have a complete newcomer being introduced to the world of bowhunting just days before the opener. WOW! Is an understatement.
This kid had nothing in the way of Camo, Boots, Gear, or anything else. We pulled together items we had stored away and fitted him the best we could by opening weekend. He really thought this was big time being able to Deer Hunt for the first time in his life. He was gonna be my son's shadow from now on. This was my boy's idea from the beginning anyway.
I only had one problem though and that was accepting the fact that he would be hunting out of my killer stands. This was a hard pill to swallow for me because this was a first for me in having someone strange from the outside world coming into the elite inside world of mine and my son's whitetail sweet spots. When looking at my trophy room the last thing I need is someone telling the world where my killer spots are. I don't have any bad or mediocre stands they all produce and produce big. 35 years of bowhunting and living in a treestand for four solid months year in year out you pretty much got it figured out where the Big Boys hang out. And to expose this to a total stranger I was not comfortable with to say the least. My son was blind to this fact and didn't have the seniority in the woods his old man had in understanding my feelings on this issue.
Trust and bowhunter ethics are the upmost importants to me and to disclose my most coveted sacred places was unthinkable. This meant sitting Mikey down and having a profound conversation of what it meant to me in what my beliefs are in letting someone from the outside step into a very elite sacred world of one's most cheerished secrets. My son, my dad, and my wife are the only ones who truly know where my most sacred honeyholes are and now I have this kid who I really know nothing about as far as trustworthiness goes penetrating the unthinkable in my rules of whitetail hunting. God this was a tough pill to swallow. Again I went back to thinking what dad taught me as a kid, everyone on earth is special and if you're around a new person long enough you will learn something from that individual.
Again I open up to something I never expected to do ever in my life. Disclose my sacred sweet spots to a total stranger. I even went as far as sitting down with my son in explaining to him just how much it really bothered me in doing this. What was happening to me at the time I couldn't see until later, was this kid was totally changing me but I was to close to it to see it at the time. This kid had me doing things I never would of dreamed of doing before.
After we get through all the issues about hunter ethics, trust and the rules that I live by Mikey gets to experience his first opener Whitetail season in the fall of that year. We place him in the stand overlooking what we call the Jungle on opening weekend. Trust me when I say Jungle that is just what it is an unimagineable impenetrable thicket you can not walk through you have to hunt the fringes and only the fringes. Opening weekend I just so happened to be on a fishing trip with coworkers and was on Lake Erie Walleye fishing that weekend. We were on the water heading out around 6:30 am that morning knowing full well what was happening at home. As we headed out to the reefs I got to thinking about those two boys and how they were making out at home opening morning. At about 8:30 am my cell phone rings and it was my son's number. When my son rings you at 8:30 am on opening weekend you know instantly that news will be on the other end. I couldn't get my fishing pole out of my hand fast enough in taking this call.
My boy's first words out of his mouth were Mikey just shot a deer dad. My first reaction was your kidding me right. My second thought was Buckzilla. No dad Mikey just shot a doe. I gotta go I have to get over there to help him find it. I'll call you later to fill you in. I was not surprised by the fact he seen deer but to shoot one two hours into his first experiece with whitetails was astounding to say the least. After coming home from my fishing trip I was greeted with big smiles and a kid who in his wildest dreams never ever thought something like this would ever occur in his lifetime was standing there full of confidence, pride and a sense of what the definition of comradery meant. He now was in a new chapter going forward in his life and one that would change not only his forever, but mine also. You see, looking back now and seeing how this kid has transpired into what I can not even begin to discribe is something you only read about.
The following year he killed his first buck and a respectful one at that. Since then he has grown into a great young man and has had so many telling stories you would have to have a month of Sundays to hear them all. To see where this kid came from to where he is today is unbelievable.
He has earned the respect of the elite group of guys that come together each and every fall for the ritual we call November Madness. It was truly meant to be in crossing paths with this young kid. He has taught me many things in the years I've known him. What a weapon he is today with a bow. Wow! The one thing that realy caught me off guard is the things he remembered early on when we would be sitting around telling stories and him listening to every detail. He has a good ear for details and sorting the important bits and pieces of a story. What I did not know was how he absorbed a lot of those conversations in his head. I hear him tell things today he is doing knowing full well he picked up bits and pieces from conversations over the years.
The one thing that I really come away with in this story is how each and everyone of us can make a huge difference in someone's life if they are given the opportunity. Look around you and don't judge a book by its cover introduce someone new to the great outdoors and hunting.
Today I could care less about my sweet spots for trophy deer all I enjoy doing is seeing other young people experiece what I have over decades of hunting and share those experiences with others. Mikey was the one who really changed the way I see things today. Just how valuable to all of us is it in seeing each generation below us learning what was passed on to us. I shed my selfish ways of the Trophy Whitetails years ago. Money can not buy what I have experienced these last few years in sharing what I know with newcomers. The joy, pride, high self esteen of witnessing our young at heart becoming seasoned veteran Bowhunters and outdoorsman is priceless. We need to make sure we stick to the foundation and fundamentals of our sport and not be so selfish that we snuff out those who are not so fortunate. If you are fortunate enough to own property share it with someone. If you are blessed enough to lease property share it with someone. It will make all the difference in the world going forward for our sport of hunting.
Remember this quote : Safety comes in numbers no matter what you're doing.
At the end of each day nothing means more to me then sitting at the supper table listening to others tell their own stories afield during those few months in the fall we all wait for each and every year.
Take another look who's around you and see if you can make a difference in someone's life. The impact is priceless to our sport and society. Trust me!
Good Hunting to all. Gotta love it! We call it Primetime down on the farm. We just had our first grandson in April 2009. I can't wait. He has had a set of rattling horns in his hands already.
And Mikey just had his first born child and he now has a son. The kids first picture taken at the hospital was in Camo. Once the seed is planted it kinda grows if you get what I mean.