As I sat on the banks of the Snake River on the border of Idaho and Washington State last week, my thoughts were not so much on the wild river float trip as they were on days and years gone by.
September is when I was hunting deer in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and a huge black bear tried to pull me from my tree stand. I call it huge although I couldn’t really tell you what size it was, I was shaking so bad.
But the bear is not what was on my mind. What I was thinking about is people like my friend Pastor Tony Brown of the First Baptist Church of Whitesburg, who gets a little grin on his face every time he sees me and asks if I’ve ran into any more bears. My thoughts also went to my friend Pat Mullins, who just lost her husband, Carl. Pat and Carl’s family told me Carl would have them read Struttin’ Time over and over to him. Carl had lost his sight just before he crossed the Silent River.
My mind was also on Carl’s brothers, Donald and Chuck, and their turkey hunting stories. Donald was as happy as any hunter when he told me about his turkey that topped 24 pounds, big by any standard. My mind was also fixed on the fact that my steps are getting slower, my years of hard living are taking their toll, and the years are slipping away at neck-break speed. When I return home from this trip, I have none other planned for this year except a bear hunt in North Carolina on October 17.
The thought came to mind also that with all I’ve done, I have left much undone. I would of liked to have gone on a fishing trip with my friends Will and Shelia Connelly. I would have liked to have gone on a dove hunt with “Pap” Raymond Brown, another deer hunt with my friends the Flemings, gone on a goose hunt with longtime friend Mike Caudill, and to have listened one more time to my friend Rob “Cigar” Fleming and his band.
Have I become someone who doesn’t make a difference anymore? Have I already reached the mountain peak, or have I just begun the climb? Only time will tell.