September 30, 2020

Opening Day Preparations Part II

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Here is Part II of “Opening Day Preparations”. Part I can be found here and Fall Senses here.

I am quite convinced as well that while you are shopping for all the “necessary” items you will encounter some of your buddies doing the same thing and of course this will lead to story telling. The “honey, I’m going to run over to Cabelas for a minute and pick up a box of shells”, turns into a several hour excursion and she knew it before you left. My point is that along with the shopping comes the need to tell stories about hunting. It monopolizes nearly every conversation at work and at the sporting goods stores.

I am sure that every one of us has our little rituals that we go through in preparations for opening day. As the day nears, the nighttime pacing begins and during the daylight ours we gaze into the fields and the woods. It becomes more and more difficult to concentrate at work. One fellow told me that around October 15th each year his right index finger would begin to twitch uncontrollably at times.

As time draws ever closer, we begin the final preparations. At night after supper we throw an extra log on the fire and go in search of our favorite hunting knife – the one that your father gave you that was his grandfathers. You bring it out into the living room and you gather you children around and you tell them as many stories as you can remember that were told to you about that knife. The children sit in amazement. They believe somehow that the knife holds magical powers and they realize that someday they may be the one to sit where their dad is sitting and tell the stories, so they listen more intently.

After the stories, you pull out the old oilstone that also once belonged to grandfather and you work on putting an edge on the old knife. The urges to get out into the woods grow with every passing hour. The ritual of bringing out items of past hunts and all the gear you think you will carry in your survival pack is passed on as well. Even though you may not be aware every one of your children are watching all that you do and they will repeat it. That is what makes it special.

Myself, I save the best for last:

The Gun and The Knife
By Thomas K. Remington

“Tis the night before hunting and all through my house
We had just finished supper – potatoes and grouse
The weather outside was cloudy and cold
Perhaps we’d have snow like opening days of old

I grabbed an oak log and tossed it on the fire
I called to my son so we could conspire
I asked him to go and find grandpa’s knife
The stories it held were bigger than life

Every year they are shared with my family by me
In hopes that traditions live long and are free
Most precious to me and someday my son
Is the old Winchester – it was Daddy’s gun

Whenever I hold it it speaks to me
I remember the hunts with just him and just me
It’s what bound us together and made us as one
He left us too early his work was not done

To clean the rifle the eve before
Is tradition I’ll keep forever more
As my son watches he too shall learn
That someday it will be his turn

Pay close attention my oldest son
Someday here my work will be done
The knife and gun aren’t just a toy
It’s important to me what you teach your boy

Keep the traditions and pass them on
So that when the day comes and I am gone
You can sit in my chair and hold the knife
And tell of the stories that were bigger than life

Tom Remington

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