A Toast to Our Fathers: The Ultimate Outdoorsmen

A Toast to Our Fathers: The Ultimate Outdoorsmen

Like many outdoorsmen and women, I was introduced to the outdoors by my dad and grandfathers. It seemed like everything we did revolved around hunting, fishing, and shooting. Those three activities were treated as sacred and took precedence over everything else.

My love for the great outdoors is a direct result of the respect for woods and wildlife instilled in me by the men in my life. As I enter my 30s, my love for the wilderness is stronger than ever. I now realize how difficult it must have been for them to take me as a loud and energetic kid.

I’m not exaggerating by saying this, but if it weren’t for fathers and father figures in our life, hunting as we know it today simply wouldn’t exist. Father’s are not only responsible for keeping us safe while we’re out but also for passing on their keen knowledge and traditions. Many of which were likely passed down from their fathers and their fathers before them.

That knowledge grows with each generation. Even if you are a late onset hunter and the first in your family to pursue it, it is your job to pass whatever knowledge you learn onto your sons and daughters. While just about everything can be found on the internet today, that first hand knowledge is hard to learn through a screen.

At a very young age my dad trusted me to defend the blueberry bushes from winged intruders with my Red Ryder. I distinctly remember setting that thin wooden buttstock on the ground and using every muscle in my body to operate the lever giving me another shot. These small lessons weren’t just in hunting, but instilled a discipline in me that allowed me to be successful in other realms of life.

Patience was probably the hardest thing my dad had to teach me. Simply sitting still. While it took the better part of a decade to truly understand what that meant, I now feel that I can explain it pretty well. It is tolerating being uncomfortable. It’s letting your legs go numb while sitting at the base of a cherry tree with a gobbler on its way in. It is accepting that you underdressed, sucking it up and dealing with it because it is prime time, and to leave the stand early would likely mean a missed opportunity.

Everyone perceives the woods differently. Those perceptions are a culmination of every outdoor experience you’ve ever had, good and bad, and are largely influenced by those around you. Despite having been in the woods countless times over the years, my dad and I still look at the same piece of deer sign differently, and I still learn something everytime I’m out with him.

What you learn while hunting with your dad isn’t fully realized until you start hunting by yourself. Suddenly, all of the decision making that was on your dad’s shoulders are now on yours. As the sun rises and it gets light, you realize that the tree 10 yards in front of you would be a much better spot than the one you’re in. Making that decision to stay put or move is no easy task. I personally ask myself what Mountain Man Joe(my dad) would do.

The traditions that are passed on by our dads can be traced back many generations as well. In most cases, we don’t even know how they started. Getting your first buck was a big deal in our family. It was like your ticket to manhood. When I grew up, a kids first buck was almost always a spike. Whether it was a spike or a mature 8 point, the celebration was the same. You conquered buck fever and held it together enough to get the job done.

Looking back at it, that celebration was as much for my dad as it was for me. While I remember everyone patting me on the back, I’m sure he got the same recognition if not more. After all, other than pulling the trigger I had little to do with my success that morning. It was his patience and ultimately his one man deer drive that produced that little buck.

Every hunting family has similar stories that get shared on occasion. While they may get stretched a little one way or another, and the bucks tend to get bigger each year, it is hard to beat looking back at them. Experiences make unforgettable memories and stories that will be told for years to come. So this Father’s Day, have a beer with your old man and relive some of those times spent together hunting, fishing, and shooting. Cheers to all of the fathers in our lives for sharing and passing down their love of the great outdoors.

Written by Kurt Martonik

Kurt is a researcher at Spartan Forge and avid outdoorsman. He flew as Boom Operator in the USAF for just shy of 7 years and following his service attended gunsmithing school at the Colorado School of Trades. After graduating there he moved to Montana and was a stockmaker/gunsmith for C. Sharps Arms. He currently resides in his home state of Pennsylvania and operates his gunsmithing shop, Highland Custom LLC on the side.