He’s the one who woke you up before daylight for that very first squirrel hunt. He made you breakfast, and made sure you had on enough warm clothes. He gifted you the .410 you cradled in your arms, and spent countless afternoons teaching you to handle and shoot it. He beamed with pride as he took your photo with your first kill.
He let you ride on his knee and steer the tractor to plow the ground for fall food plots. He showed you the oats, radish, and clover seeds, and helped you pick out each one as they sprouted. He taught you what white oaks look like, and persimmons and beautyberry.
You could feel his steady hand on your back as you trembled with nerves and adrenaline, trying to find the deer’s shoulder in the crosshairs. He walked you through your first solo skinning, letting you take three
times as long as it would take him. He let you drop the steaks into the frying pan, and taught you how special it is to bring home your own dinner from the woods.
He helped you plant a spring garden with whatever vegetables you wanted. He let you get dangerously close to a wild beehive, so you could see the honeycomb inside. He taught you how the bees and butterflies are just as important as every other creature, and how we can help them out with some flowers in the backyard.
There was a lesson in everything, but he never skipped out on the fun. Each experience was a seed being planted, and as you grew you came to realize that his love for the land had taken root in your own heart. Now you know this was his greatest gift, and one that you must also pass on.
To all the dads who take a child’s hand, and lead them down a worthy path, Happy Father’s Day.