I grew up in Montana, where the right of passage was fishing and hunting. My Dad started me fishing when I was 5 years old and hunting at 12, when I could finally get a license.
I started fishing with a willow stick, line tied on the end, with a safety pin for a hook and a grasshopper for bait. I caught a lot of little fish this way and if any of you have tasted fresh brook trout fried with potatoes and eggs, you know what real eating is about.
In the winter we fished with bamboo poles about 12 feet long and, being only 5, it was all I could do to hold it between my legs and maybe throw it out about 10 feet. We had to cross a stream about 30 feet wide and knee deep to my Dad so he carried me on his back to the island, so we could fish in his favorite hole. I didn’t have hip boots cause they didn’t make them for 5 yr olds and Dad worked in a lumber mill at a pretty low wage so we weren’t able to afford them anyway.
I would get bored real quick and did a lot of horsing around. I can still hear him saying, “Quit running, you’re going to fall and bust your head open” and “Stay off that ice you’re going to get your feet wet and I’ll have to take you home”. (Remember this for later in the story).
How did Dad get so smart? Sure enough I would do just that and we would have to go home and fix my head or change my clothes and I’d hear about it for a couple days. Dad didn’t make very much at the mill and. When we went fishing one time with my dad’s boss he noticed I didn’t have any rubber boots, his boss bought me some buckle-up overshoes.
We got to the river and built a fire and started fishing. That long pole got pretty heavy real quick so guess what I did. Nope you got that wrong. I tried to warm my feet by sticking them close to the fire. Got too close and started those new overshoes on fire. Boy, I really caught heck then. Last time fishing with the boss…
My Dad didn’t give up on me though. I still heard a lot of “quit running” and “stay off the ice”. Dad passed away when he was 69 and a couple years before that we went fishing in the river and I told him to stay off the ice along the edge because it wasn’t very thick and he might fall through. He hooked a big one and stepped on the ice and sure enough fell through. “Dang it, Dad, I can’t take you anywhere. Now we have to go home just when the fish are biting”. He was smiling though.
A couple weeks later we were on the river again and I looked at Dad and he had this big funny looking smile on his face. I said, “What?”, and he looked down at his feet. He forgot to pull up his hip boots and water was filling them up. “Dang it we just got there! Now I had to take him home”.
Have you ever ridden a horse? How about a deer? Have you ever been towed in a boat?
Tune in to see how much trouble Dad and I get into.