Archive for December, 2020

Random Thoughts from 2020

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

  Instead of rambling in an essay, I decided to bullet point some things that I experienced in 2020. I also included many random thoughts about things that crossed my mind throughout the year. I hope you enjoy and can relate in some way. 

  • My third book, “Pursuing Public Land Bucks,” hit the market early in the year
  • Expecting another relaxing winter in the sunshine, my parents left for Florida on Jan. 1 and never imagined what would transpire
  • I traveled to Massachusetts to shoot at Jason Vanhillo’s annual New Year’s Day tournament with Chris Hall and Jeff Wagoner, and I introduced Chris to a great bunch of guys
  • Got lucky enough to win the NFAA NY State Indoor Championship and the NFAA Mid-Atlantic Indoor Sectional
  • Same weekend I won the sectional, Dad called me on his way home from the ASA Pro-Am in Alabama to tell me he had finished in fourth place but didn’t feel well. 
  • A few days later, I found myself on a plane to Florida to watch Dad fight for his life
  • Took a chance on getting Mom and Dad home from Florida in April, so Dad could get better care and be treated by his own doctors
  • Finally started writing a novel
  • Moved in with Mom and Dad to care for them
  • Although my heart wasn’t in it, I went to the First Leg of the IBO National Triple Crown and finished in seventh place without attending one 3D shoot before going.
  • Attended the Second Leg of the IBO National Triple Crown and finished in fifth place
  • IBO World got canceled, so I finished in fourth place overall and never attended one 3D shoot for the year, besides the two legs, that had Rinehart targets.
  • Went to Colorado elk hunting without my father for the first time since 1991
  • Brought two newbies, Josh and Jacob, to Colorado
  • Went to Illinois to hunt with my Dad, Josh, Brian and Jeff
  • Spent many days at camp in the Adirondacks with my Dad
  • Began working from home full time

                       My Random Thoughts from the Year

  • Many people have no patience
  • When a government official shuts down a state and you have to cancel your VRBO reservation, it says a lot when the owner of the unit holds a job in senior management in Merrill/Lynch and also won a Person of the Year award, and she refuses to refund any of your money
  • People can portray themselves as caring and nice
  • True character can never be hidden
  • Don’t confuse people who are extremely kind and caring for people who are giving good health care
  • Health care is not good in Florida
  • Listen to others when they have done the proper research and given solid advice
  • There are always two sides to every story. It’s wise to stay neutral and listen to both sides
  • The truth most likely lies in the middle 
  • A person’s character doesn’t change overnight
  • It takes years to build a good reputation, but it can be destroyed by one bad decision
  • Reputations can also be destroyed or strengthened if people don’t know your true character
  • If you dislike someone, dislike that person alone. Don’t recruit others to join your cause…… clearly displays your true character
  • Not everyone can do good work while working from home
  • Some people need constant supervision — others need none
  • If people didn’t work much in the office, expect these people to work even less from home
  • Be accountable for your actions
  • Don’t pass the blame
  • As a leader, know how to readjust on the fly and rectify major issues when your poorly executed plans affect every link in the chain
  • Don’t sail your ship into an iceberg when your crew is telling you that your original route needs to be modified
  • Unsinkable ships sink
  • Chains are only as strong as their weakest link
  • Change is not always good and being able to recognize that is essential
  • I’ve finally come to realize why greed is one of the deadly sins
  • The United States is on its way to becoming a third-world country 
  • Corporate America was not set up to be run in small-town America
  • Caring for loved ones is easy when you realize they must come first at times
  • You can never repay people for their care and love so give them the same in return
  • If you don’t like things, find constructive ways to change them
  • Giving constructive criticism is not being negative but not hearing the criticism and labeling the source as being negative displays your arrogance and ignorance
  • Find a way to agree to disagree without getting combative
  • Don’t stomp your feet, kick, throw your arms in the air and yell when you don’t get your own way
  • The people you support, no matter what side, are the ones who are going to cause a revolution
  • Having no term limits will lead to the fall of the country
  • Whether you want to believe it or not, all leaders have a dog in the fight, even if you can’t see the dog lying in the shadows under the bushes
  • Social media has created more experts than I care to listen to
  • Advice for kids: learn a trade or go to college. You’re not all going to make a living making videos for YouTube and TikTok.
  • Alcoholism is a disease
  • Watching an alcoholic is mind-boggling and sad
  • Life is the highest of all highs – if you allow it to be
  • Archery and hunting are my drugs, and I’m addicted to both
  • Being friends with recovered alcoholics and drug addicts is refreshing and eye-opening. They help me understand other people
  • Listen to people who have been there and done that 
  • Parents need to parent their children and raise them to live independent lives
  • You will most likely have a few jobs you don’t like, but it’s not an excuse to not go to work
  • You will encounter bosses you don’t like. Learn to deal with it. It makes you stronger
  • Surround yourself with motivated people
  • Set goals, no matter how big or small, and work to achieve them
  • Make lists – it’s always rewarding to check things off a list
  • Look at the people you spend time with and get a good look — You are an average of the five people you spend the most time with
  • Teamwork is impossible if a teammate has his own agenda
  • Panic/anxiety is a real problem — be understanding and supportive
  • Mental institutions could easily become commonplace again
  • Retirement will soon be a thing of the past
  • As more and more people must rely on 401Ks to survive, the workforce will suffer and there will be hundreds of thousands of elderly people who will be broke and need care
  • Being in the outdoors brings me an inner peace that most people will never experience
  • The flight of an arrow is and always will be mystical to me
  • I love archery
  • How others define you doesn’t matter. Define your own life and legacy
  • I’m thankful every day for incredible parents
  • Medtronic has the worst customer service of any company I’ve ever dealt with in my life, and it seems to get worse every time I deal with the company
  • Diabetic supplies that are required to sustain life are far too expensive
  • Almost all photos are taken during good times
  • Photos will make you smile — look at them and go back in time
  • Life is fleeting
  • I’ve lived one of the richest lives in the world, but I have never been wealthy
  • I treat all people the same – until they give me a reason not to
  • I learned to live a disciplined life as a child, otherwise I’d be dead
  • I’m thankful for everyone who has ever been a part of my life. You helped mold me into the person I’ve become – so Thank You
  • My parents are my heroes

Humbling Happenings

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

I can still remember racing to the library during my study halls after I had finished my homework in middle school and high school. I always went through the door and directly to the magazine rack. I would pick up Outdoor Life or Field and Stream and flip through the pages to look at the awe-inspiring pictures. Then, I would filter through them to read about the adventures of people whose lives I dreamed about living.

The people in some of these stories were larger than life. They were the gods of the outdoor world. They knew everything about deer hunting, bird hunting, trout fishing and elk hunting, among many other outdoor activities. The writers had a way of weaving facts and fiction into many of their feature articles but never blurring the line between the two.

After finishing, I would walk back to the study hall and smile along the way. I never dreamed of being one of the people being featured in an article in a magazine of that caliber. Instead, I enjoyed reading about adventures that seemed all but impossible to me.

My father had brought me to the Wally Taber Show a few times at the high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him talk about his experiences in Africa, the North Pole and everywhere else around the world. When the lights went out and the film began to play, it became a movie to me. I watched a main character and a cast of others go from one adventure to the next. It was all fiction to me. I couldn’t comprehend any person actually doing those things. The adventures were, of course, unattainable in my eyes. Heck, that’s why my father brought me to see the show. It was enjoyable and a break from reality for him — and me.

Time Passes and I Become an Adult

After going to college, I basically forgot about those Wally Taber shows for a while. I was only a kid when Dad brought me to them, and I had let my ability to imagine great adventures dissipate while entering into adulthood.

Then, Dad looked at me one day and said, “What do you think about going to Colorado to hunt elk?”

Wide-eyed and holding back my excitement, I shyly replied, “I think I’d like that.”

Without missing a beat, Dad told me we were going to Colorado. Well, that was 30 years ago this year, and I have lived an incredibly adventurous life in the woods across the United States since Dad decided to take a chance for me — and himself.

Although we hunt primarily at home inside the blue line of the Adirondack Park that Teddy Roosevelt declared Forever Wild, we have been fortunate enough to experience many hunts in the states across the Midwest that I saw on TV when I dreamed of being like the people I read about in the magazines.

Over time, I learned a lot of things about whitetail deer, and I became a better hunter. I studied every action and reaction of the cautious four-legged critters, and I made conclusions after watching their interactions with people, predators and other animals in the forest.

Eventually, I gained enough knowledge to feel comfortable writing a book about the things I had learned. I hoped the book would help others save time learning things on their own. We all know how valuable time is, especially as we get older. Sometimes a page or two in a book can save a few moths of research on a computer. I wanted to give back to others, just as so many people had freely given to me along the way, including my parents.

After publishing a few books, a little notoriety found its way into my personal world. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan of being in the spotlight, and I try to shy away from it as much as possible. Although I like to talk to people about my passion, I definitely would never consider myself any better than anyone else. Instead, I know there are many people far and wide who can teach me so much more about the things I enjoy, and I’m always willing to listen to a good mentor.

Finding My Way Into the Magazines

Somewhere along the line, Dan Ladd introduced me to Randy Flannery, and Randy introduced me to Scott Bestul. Scott interviewed me last year for an article he was doing for Field and Stream’s rut issue. I was honored but felt a little out of place with the legendary people who were also included in the article. After all, I’m just the little boy who used to go to the library to read stories about Myles Keller or Jim Zumbo. It was a humbling experience to see my name in print next to Mark Drury’s name, where both of us were being referred to as “experts.” I’d never call myself an expert, unless an expert is someone who has spent countless hours making mistakes to get a better understanding for the 20 seconds of success he gets to experience a few times each fall.

After my long-winded conversation with Scott last year, he shared my name with Brian Lovett, a writer from Field and Stream who contacted me last summer about an article he was doing about hunting on public land. I graciously accepted his invitation to talk with him, and we (or should I say I) rambled on and on about deer hunting. Although I’m notoriously quiet, when I start talking about deer hunting I can become excited and talk for hours on end. Well, that’s what happened. Brian was probably ready to hang up on me, but he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. When I read the article he wrote for Field and Stream, I quickly realized one thing: I need to think more when I speak. I sound like a redneck when I’m quoted, and my speech skills do not reflect very good grammar. I’m kind of embarrassed at some of my quotes, but I guess most hunters won’t know the difference.

I think I sometimes take a lot of things for granted that Dad has taught me over the years. I have to remember that I have years of experience doing what I love to do: deer hunting. I’ve realized that no question is a dumb question. I used to be that starry-eyed kid in the library who had a gazillion dumb questions. Dad answered most of them with a sheepish smile, but I still needed to go to others for further advice. I still ask dumb questions, but the questions, no matter how big or small, help me educate myself and others. They make me mentally prepared for almost anything that can happen in the woods.

I’ve probably rambled long enough tonight, but I’m sitting here a week before Christmas and hunting season has closed where I hunt. As I look at the top of my desk and see a variety of books and magazines, I can’t help but stare at the Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines in which I’ve been mentioned. Then, looking at my computer and reading Brian’s on-line article in Field and Stream, I feel warm inside. I feel like Santa just sat down and ate his cookies with me. We talked a little about deer hunting, and he left as quickly as he had arrived, my eyes widening as he made his way up the chimney to the waiting reindeer.

Sometimes the gifts in life are small and people we don’t even know give them to us. While I know Dan and Randy, I can’t say that I personally know Scott and Brian, but I feel they both gave me a gift that I dreamed about as a child and teen. Dreams are not unreachable if you follow your passion. One day, you might open your eyes and realize you have followed a path that others can only imagine. You might just be Wally Taber to a child out there somewhere, or your mom or dad might bring you to a show in hopes of getting away from reality to entertain you, not knowing that the two of you may embark on your own adventures that could rival anything you ever saw at the show.

With everything going on in the world around us this year, I cherish the gifts I’ve been given throughout my life. I cherish the little things, including the gifts the givers never knew they gave. Many writers give hope and understanding to their readers, while other writers share their passion. I feel fortunate to have been able to help two writers share their passion with readers of all ages, races and walks of life. I’m just hoping there was one kid somewhere who went to the library and grabbed the magazine or read the on-line piece that I was featured in. That, my friends, would be a dream come true. I hope all of you have a happy holiday season. Here’s the article that Brian wrote this year for Field and Stream.