Grandfatherly Wisdom

Posted on February 21, 2017

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“…there is not a grandfather who does not adore his grandsons (granddaughters).” – Victor Hugo

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Grandfatherhood, if that is indeed a word, (it should be if it isn’t) may well be the greatest blessing bestowed upon the male race. It is a special title reserved for those who survived parenting. As I sit and pen this the magnitude of what is about to happen is unlike any, outside of this, I’ve ever experienced; no, I didn’t just kill a world record buck, nor did I win the lottery. This is far more significant than any of those things. Any day now (actually it transpired four days ago) will mark the point in my life where I will meet my newest grandson and my daughter & son in-law’s first child. I don’t really feel that old: I’m not really sure you have to consider yourself old to be a grandfather. Nevertheless, my fifth grandchild, Lucas John has made his grand entrance onto the world stage. Indeed, it was a bit premature but, a day filled with hopeful anticipation for me, thoughts of the future with him, my two other grandsons and two granddaughters currently dominate my thoughts.

I’m reminded of Robert Ruark’s book, The Old Man And The Boy, where he writes,

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Did you ever wonder why I spend so much time and trouble and accumulated wisdom on you?” The Old Man paused…Why would you suppose that a man of my advanced years and general accomplishments would waste so much time trying to beat a little knowledge and a few good manners into the head of an unlicked cub? Am I trying to leave a memorial behind me?” The Old Man continues, “The reason is that all I got of me to pass on is you, and I know a couple  or three things I like. I know quite a lot of goods and quite a lot of bads, and as long as I ain’t  got any money I would like to leave a few of the good things behind…A boy has got to grow up to be a man someday. You can delay the process, but you can’t protect the boy from manhood forever. The best and easiest way is to expose the boy to people who are already men, good and bad, drunk and sober, lazy and industrious. It is really, after all, up to the boy, when all is said and done, and there are a lot of boys who never get to be men, and a lot of men who never quit being boys.

While a brand-new life holds lots of promise, it’s what’s invested into that life that ultimately determines the final outcome; a big responsibility that every parent knows all too well. Having now been a grandfather for seven years, I, like the Old Man have learned a few things along the trail that I desperately want to impart to all of my grandchildren.

Gleanings From The Track

Every young man yearns for the adventure and excitement that stems from being king of the mountain, spending the night in a tree fort, capturing frogs down along the ponds edge or slaying metaphorical dragons with a make-shift sword. I want every outing with my grandkids to be an adventure, one in which I will have the chance to see it afresh, straight from each of their eyes and perspective. It is innate in every boy and some girls to hunt. That instinct however is no guarantee that every boy will hunt, as Ruark explains,

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The hunter’s horn sounds early for some, later for others. For some unfortunates, prisoned by city sidewalks and sentenced to a cement  jungle…the horn of the hunter never winds at all. But deep in the guts of most men is buried the involuntary response to the hunter’s horn, a prickle of the nape hairs, an acceleration of the pulse, and atavistic memory of his fathers, who killed first with stone, and then with club, and then with spear, and then with bow, and then with gun, and finally with formula. How meek the man is of no importance; somewhere in the pigeon chest of the clerk is still the vestigial remnant of the hunter’s heart; somewhere in his nostrils the half-forgotten smell of blood.

I can only hope that my grandsons, and perhaps, granddaughters will follow in the footsteps of their dads, grandfather and great grandfather, to know and experience the camaraderie, joys, triumphs and excitement that our hunts have engendered.

I wait with great anticipation for the day that I introduce them to the white-tailed deer and the many mysteries that shroud that magnificent creature. I long to answer the myriad of questions that they will eventually ask. Inquiries such as: Gramps, where are all the deer hiding? Why do they run from us? How many spots are on that fawn? What do deer eat? Why can’t they talk like us?

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As they mature, I expect their inquisitiveness to further expand and for them to ask: How do you know that is a buck track? Why do bucks make rubs and scrapes? Do you think we will catch up to the deer we are tracking? How can you tell how big the buck is since we have not seen him yet?

Aside from replying to their many queries, entertaining endless curiosities, I expect to ingrain in them a great respect for wildlife; an appreciation for all that is most wild, and a thankful heart for the gift of life itself. I want them to see my dead deer, one that I took through fair chase, using ethical standards. I want them to realize and understand that a deer sacrifices his life that I might live. I want them to know that blood is not dirty and hunters are not bad. I hope to be there when each of them takes their first whitetail, as I was when my son took his first. It is then that they will better understand that bullets kill, death if final and life is truly precious.

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It is common knowledge that when it comes to kids, more is caught that is taught. I intend to be the kind of influence on my grandkids that they will want to emulate. I wish to pass on to them the reasons behind the precepts that I live by, the ethical standards that I hunt by and the core values that make their grandfather who he is. I want them to know that the ends don’t justify the means, that success is earned not granted and that without failures, victories will end up hollow. After all, the end result of a successful hunt is not entirely in dead deer flesh and antlers. While a vanquished buck is the primary goal, it’s the journey in getting to that buck that will hold the greatest significance; events played out along the trail where you experiences turn into memories lasting for a lifetime.

The Grandfather In Each Of Us

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Our hunting heritage runs deep and if we are to continue that rich past we, as a hunting fraternity, must all become involved in fostering, teaching and mentoring our youth, who will eventually become the next generation of hunters. Their hunting future hinges on what we do today. As for me, hold on…got to go, my daughter just arrived holding my newest grandson…my journey is about to continue!

All images and text on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier      © R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.

 

 

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