We have all gotten “those” fathers day gifts. The socks, ties, and coffee cups that adorn the bottom of a drawer somewhere. I have put together 5 gifts for the Wing shooting dad in your life that are sure to put a smile on that special dads face.
A new shotgun is always a great gift idea but, shotguns can be expensive these days. However CZUSA has cracked the code on affordable side by side shotguns, The CZ Bobwhite is both beautiful and functional. I hunted with one this season and, if i was a single gun guy, this could be the last shotgun a man would ever need. MSRP is 799.00
2. Duckcamp Upland Wingshooting Vest
If your father/Husband is a quail hunter then the upland Vest from Duckcamp upland wingshooting vest is a fantastic idea. The vest is light weight, comfortable, and had plenty of pockets and attachment points for any quail hunting adventure. The vest retails for 169.00 and is available from Duckcamps website.
3. Lakewood Products Shotgun case.
The Lakewood Shotgun case is one of the most important tools in my upland arsenal. This case is both bombproof and stylish. The case retails for 229.00
4. Soundgear Hearing Protection.
These custom fitted modern “earplugs” are the latest in hearing protection technology. MSRP is 1599.00 a pair and are worth every penny.
5. A Quail hunting adventure to Prairie Wildlife in West Point Mississippi
My final gift Idea is an all inclusive weekend at the Premier Quail hunting operation in the south. The packages can include as much or as little as you want however al all inclusive package covers everything except shells and alcohol. A full day, 2 hunts, with food, lodging, guides, and dogs is 1895.00. This is money well spent.
Getting ready for that coastal vacation this summer? Well we have a class for you. On May 20th I am holding a class on tying inshore patterns for Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, and Seatrout. The class will be held at Fly South in Nashville Tennessee. The class is tailored to flies we know work in Florida and the gulf coast area.
After finishing the latest John Gierach Book “All the time in the world” I immediately grabbed a 5-weight and went trout fishing. John has a way of transporting us through all the bullcrap, so often associated with fly fishing. He has no ulterior motives to promote sponsors, or be hip and cool. He writes to a fly fisherman’s soul by telling us stories about fishing, without telling us how to fish. When I told a journalist friend, and fly fisherman, that I was doing a review on this book his comment was that John had written the same great book a dozen times. I thought about that for a while and had to disagree. Every Gierach book has a cast of characters and unique stories that somehow captivate his readers. His writings give me mental images of people. places, and most importantly dogs. The book opens talking about the fact fishermen are everywhere and takes the reader to a Michigan dock to ponder the cost of fly fishing. Then from that point the reader takes a trip to a not so “prettied up” town in Alaska. Finally we arrive at a camp where “Uncle Fucker” enters the large cast of characters, and somehow makes the reader ponder some environmental issues with out actually talking about environmental issues, that John had introduced us all to over the years. After that we go on a series of adventures both near and far with John and his cast of friends, guides, and even Moose the fishing Labrador.
These books, especially this one, are a must have in every angler’s book collection. My collection of John Gierach books are all on a shelf above both Hemmingway and Tom McGuane.
I find it somewhat satisfying when I can buy a fishing product made from anything that is recycled, especially recycled nylon fishing nets. The Patagonia Swift current wading pants are one of those products.. Made in Vietnam and Fair Trade Certified, meaning workers were paid a premium wage for their work. These pants are simply amazing. I have tried to destroy them over the past few months and they are like new today. They don’t hold stains, they repel water, they breathe well, and they are dryer friendly. I tried to shrink them by running a pair through the dryer and failed. They are very true to fit and come in three inseams, which is not the norm these days, 30,32, and for us tall folks a 34 inch.
I must mention that a lot of companies fly the sustainability flag but fail the final test. That test being how they get me the product. Patagonia sends your gear in 100% recyclable packaging, down to the tags and the device attaching the tag to the product. They have become the bar for sustainability that all companies should strive to reach.
To this day I am not sure how I got there or exactly why. All I do know is at the lowest, and most devastating, point in my life I found peace at a gravesite of my first canine friend.
The funeral was finally over, and everyone had shed their tears, said their goodbyes, wiped their cheeks and walked away. That is everyone except me. Dad fought his battle against cancer for several years and the results were simply extended suffering. When he finally made his choice to stop fighting, I understood. The problem is that understanding and being ready for his decision were two vastly different things.
I had that same hollow and empty feeling as when we buried Sam, our last bird dog. Something was missing and I couldn’t shake that feeling. On one hand, I thought “hell I am a soldier and not supposed to get emotional”. On the other, I yearned to be able to cry and express my loss like a normal human being.
After the funeral, and between all the “I am sorry for your losses” and the plethora of covered dishes, I managed to sneak in and hold his 16-gauge Ithaca featherweight for a while. That shotgun was the upper end of upland bird guns when he bought it. However today it was all I had left to connect me to the past. I closed my eyes and tried to recall the last time I saw him carry it.
I caressed the dings in the stock, the worn places in the forearm, and the small pits in the bluing, Nothing! No emotions, no tears, and not many memories.
That didn’t help at all.
At this point I was out of both patience and cigarettes, so I politely excused myself so I could resupply and head back to Fort Campbell. I finally found a convenience store that was open, but the clerk knew my father and proceeded to tell me what a great man he was. I truly wanted to just say “No kidding I grew up with the man”, but I smiled and said yes sir he certainly was.
The next few days were and remain a blur. I couldn’t get my head out of my ass and figure out what was missing…
“Was I going crazy?”
“Had I turned into an emotionless jerk?”
So, I left the post on a Friday on a collision course with a bar and some high-octane tequila. I never made it to the bar, nor did I get that tequila-induced haze I was looking for.
I don’t know how I got there, or why I ended up there. The next real thought that went through my head was 8 hours later at a farm gate in Michigan. At first, I thought perhaps I was dreaming and closed my eyes, after all, I had not slept for days. I visualized the farm where my father and I first hunted upland birds together. It was Friday’s farm. I sat there half-asleep wondering why I couldn’t seem to cry. Then I opened my eyes and realized I was not dreaming; I was sitting at the gate to that very farm!
I couldn’t figure out why I was even there. We left Michigan over a decade earlier and up until that week, I have only had passing thoughts about this place.
As the sun warmed up the horizon, and the realization that I was at Friday’s farm sunk in; I recalled the day we laid our German Shorthaired Pointer to rest under a tree on that very farm.
I thought to myself, we buried Sam in 1978. I vaguely remembered the tree and the pile of rocks we used for a marker. I had to try to find her, so I searched for what seemed like an eternity. Unfortunately, things change, and the memories of a young boy on his saddest day, were not exactly clear.
Frustration and the cold set in simultaneously. Then at the very moment, I was ready to give up, a grouse flushed and sat, for just a moment, on the limb of a big tree. Could that was the tree I was searching for? The big oak that split about 4 feet off the ground. After that I found the rocks and sat down. Finally finding both tears and peace in the company of a canine friend from long ago