Getting older but not old yetWORTHINGTON — I drove over to Sioux Falls today to drop off my son Brandon, who has a job in Kuwait. The placement officer from the Colorado School of Trade where Brandon trained as a gunsmith told him of the job.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I drove over to Sioux Falls today to drop off my son Brandon, who has a job in Kuwait. The placement officer from the Colorado School of Trade where Brandon trained as a gunsmith told him of the job. He will be stationed on an Air Force base there and will service the military ma-chine guns and other automatic weapons used in that part of the planet. This is a one-year stint and the pay is pretty lucrative.
It is still hard to say good-bye for a year — even if the Face-book and Skype social media can keep you in touch. There’s nothing like technology to make a 50-year-old feel his age.
When it comes to my outdoor pursuits, there are also ways to tell someone is an aging out-doors person. I thought I would share five of them with you and you can see if any of these sound like you.
The first is that I can drive past a Cabella’s store without stopping and spending $500. I used to make about five differ-ent lists over the winter. There would be a list for clothes, an-other for fishing lures and gear and others for hunting have-to-haves. Back in the day it would take more than one trip to Ca-bella’s or Scheel’s because I usually did not have enough money to purchase every item on every list. Now I am into replacing what wears out and it takes longer to wear out things than it used to.
The next way to tell you are an aging outdoors person is that the Lasik eye surgery you had 15 years ago no longer functions for tying a fishing knot or fish-ing a new transducer wire from one end of my boat to the other. After I had this corrective eye surgery I did not need glasses to shoot pheasants or ducks. I was also lucky in that it corrected my need for glasses to read the Daily Globe. This effect has worn off and readers are be-coming the norm, not the excep-tion. I still have good long dis-tance vision, but the up-close stuff is a different story. The effects of aging on an outdoors person are becoming evident.
The third way to tell you are an aging outdoors person is no longer having a burning desire to be the first person on the ice testing your courage and com-mon sense. I was visiting with a friend last week who told me the first time he went ice fishing was with me and that the ice was only 2-3 inches thick. He was scared and I was oblivious.
My idea of ice fishing now is determining who has a wheel shack and when I can borrow the key to drive my truck up next to it. Hopefully the heat is already on. This is not likely much this year.
The fourth way to tell you are an aging outdoors person is that you will actually cancel a fish-ing trip if the weather is sched-uled to be horrible. I went to the Minnesota/South Dakota fish-ing opener on Big Stone Lake with some young friends of mine 25 years ago. The weather forecast was 30 degrees and windy. We went anyway and, as we sat on the shore in the snow and freezing rain, we were still glad we went. It was the adven-ture as much as the fishing.
My no-holds-barred need to adventure has diminished greatly when the weather is bad. I now change my plans and go the week after. This was un-heard of as a gung-ho adven-turer in my 20’s.
The last item on my list is not a sign of aging that I see in my-self, but one I certainly see in the other folks around me and even my buddy Les Johnson. When you take a diehard pheasant hunter like Les — who has hunted pheasants with Labradors (flushing dogs) ever since he started hunting — and all of a sudden you see him with a pointing dog, you have seen a good sign of an aging pheasant hunter. I call pointing dogs a gentlemen’s dog.
Labradors work cover and will pick up the bird’s scent and bust the bird to flight as soon as they can. This is a flushing dog. When hunting over flushers you need to be at top attention at all times. You never know when the next flush might hap-pen, especially in heavy cover.
A pointing dog, on the other hand, is a slower, gentler ap-proach. A pointing dog will scent the bird and lock up when it gets close. This is a dog that is as still as a statue, nose pointed at the hidden bird that will re-main so until you walk within 10 feet away and either send the dog to flush the bird or flush the bird yourself.
You have the opportunity to get ready, make a good stance, shoulder the gun and then flush the bird. A good pointer can hold a bird solid for many min-utes. Many pointers cannot be called off a point. They will stay motionless until the bird flies on its own or is flushed by the handler. Don’t get me wrong I love pointing dogs too. They are very different than flushers and have an appeal all their own. Les just had his knee replaced and, right up until last fall he could keep up with me and any other pheasant hunter half his age. There are many young hunters that hunt pointers for other reasons, but many older hunters move to this type of hunting companion because it is easier on older legs.
I do not currently own — and will most likely not have — a pointing breed dog in my life for at least a while yet. This is not to say that, at some point, I won’t. My dad taught me that never is a very long time.
I have some signs of aging as an outdoorsman, but for the most part I am still going strong. Not if, but when, I fi-nally make it to the happy hunt-ing ground in the sky, I hope my last minutes on the planet find me standing in a field of native grass with a gun in my hand and several dogs at my side. I always tell my wife where I am going hunting so she knows where to look for me if I don’t come home. I am older, but as of today I am not yet too old — even if the pace has slowed a bit.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.