March 6th, 2000

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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It's All in a Day Outdoors

By Al Campbell

(Previously printed in the Rapid City Journal)

Occasionally I get a chance to do something real interesting. You know what I mean, one of those days that will linger in your memory for the rest of your life.

Many times the reason you remember that day is because something went wrong and you had to work hard to overcome the problem or survive the day. Sometimes the day lives on in your memory because it was a day so nice; it buries the average days you usually have in your already crowded mind. Sometimes it's both.

Such was a day in mid November when my son asked me to join him on the opening day of the prairie deer season. I didn't have a deer permit for the area, but he wanted someone around who could help him retrieve a deer if he was successful. He also wanted me to spend some time with his two young sons, Nathan who is seven and Cody who is four. In other words, he needed a babysitter. What grandfather wouldn't want to spend the day with his two grandsons in the great outdoors? I agreed.

Very early the morning of the hunt, my son arrived at my house to pick me up. I expected the grandsons to be asleep, but they were wide-awake and ready to go. Their whooping and running around the yard probably woke the neighbors for two blocks in every direction. I was wondering if I had enough energy to survive the day.

Four hours and a million questions later, we arrived at a wooded section of hills in the northwestern part of the state. While dad searched the hills for a deer, grandpa (the kids call me "Pa") answered a million more questions. I never questioned it before, but why do deer like to live in such steep places? Wouldn't it be easier if they just lived in a hay field? Why does my face turn red when the youngest grandson puts his sticky hands on the lenses of my binoculars? Why does Pa need a nap when the grandsons want to explore? Can mountain lions open car doors and eat you while you nap? Like I said, a million questions.

Exploring a new world can be a real adventure. We found one heart shaped rock, so we needed to find another. One bag of pinecones isn't enough; we had to collect one for each of the boys. I'm told that orange vests sized for adults, look like Jedi robes on young boys.

"Pa, don't you think this big rock would look nice in our front yard?" "Why don't we cut a Christmas tree while dad hunts?" "Nathan found a deer horn; I want one too!" "Do coyotes eat little boys who can't run fast enough?"

Exploring is a wonderful and sometimes humorous task when you do it with little boys. "This is juniper. Pull off a few needles and smell it. That's what juniper smells like. This is sage. Notice how different it smells than juniper and pine?"

We were having a great time when Cody held up a handful of small nuggets and asked what they were.

"Oh, those are deer droppings Cody."

"Can I keep them Pa?"

"I don't think that would be a good idea Cody."

"But Pa, if the deer dropped them, he didn't want them anymore; so why can't I keep them?"

"Well Cody, your mother probably doesn't want them in the house."

"But Pa, I can keep them in my bedroom. She won't mind if I keep them there." When a four-year-old pleads his case, his volume control occasionally gets a little high.

It finally occurred to me that Cody didn't know what deer droppings were. From the funny smile on Nathan's face, I could tell that he knew what Cody's new treasure was, but he wasn't telling anyone. Big brothers are like that sometimes.

"Cody, do you know what deer droppings are?"

"Yea, something a deer dropped."

How do you explain something like this without laughing?

"Cody, deer droppings are deer poopy."

"Oh!" he said as he dropped his new treasure and rubbed his hands on his pants leg. The rest of his discoveries were pointed out while they remained on the ground.

We also discovered we had a flat tire and the spare was very low, but a passing hunter came to our rescue with a tank of air. Hunters are usually willing to rescue other hunters in need, especially if those other hunters have little children with them.

We didn't return with a deer that day; but we all had a great adventure. It was a day I'll remember for a very long time. I'm sure a couple of young grandsons will remember it too.

How about you? Isn't it time you took your children or grandchildren on a little adventure? The treasures you find will be more than pinecones and pretty rocks. ~ Al Campbell

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