There was a gentle fog lifting from the valley.
At ten years of age, the woods looked magical in the new light of day.
“Dad, look at all the deer in the woods!”
Grabbing a rifle, his thermos of coffee and some snacks he said, “Let’s get out there.”
As we quietly made our way up the bank, through the creek and kneeling in the brush…
…he handed me the shotgun and said, “Line it up, take a deep breath and hold it while you squeeze that trigger. Don’t forget to lean your shoulder into it.”
I did as he asked and watched a ten point buck fall to the ground.
There was a deep churning feeling of excitement, sadness and nausea flooding my body.
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “It gets easier, over time. But, it’s something we have to get through to ensure we can always take care of ourselves.”
After we processed and quartered our harvest, Dad pulled out a heavily used tarp, skillet and some bread and began to build a fire.
I’d never seen anyone just sit down in the woods and build a camp like this.
The tarp was a simple lean-to meant to keep the snow and ice off our backs. His cook system was simple, just a folding metal trivet and a skillet.
He had the fire going in under five minutes and was cooking steak, washed in the creek, within the next ten.
As we sat there, he with his coffee and I with my hot cocoa, I remember thinking how amazing my dad was.
We didn’t have much by way of food in the house. But, even with the stresses he obviously faced in life, Dad wasn’t in the woods that day to get food.
His primary goal was to impart to me the knowledge of hunting which had been passed down, over hundreds of years of being professional hunters, through our family.
Secondarily, he wanted to show me how to celebrate the hunt and take in the moment.
This wasn’t about getting the biggest buck or having bragging rights in the sport. Dad showed me how to track, hunt, harvest and live in the moment that day.
Innocence was in every moment. Feeling a connection, to all around us, was forefront in his mind.
That day was about reclaiming our self-reliance and reconnecting with nature as had been passed down through the generations, through our DNA and through family members like Ellsworth Jaeger. That day was the first day my innocence became passion for the outdoors and my father became my friend.
It’s been four years since Dad left this world. My friend, my father and my mentor moved on; leaving me with the responsibility to go it on my own and impart this knowledge to my son, my daughter, my wife and anyone else who needs to know how to, why to and what we do out there…in the forest, where few dare to dwell anymore.
When the fog lifts for you…start to see what’s in the clearing. Don’t wait another day to go out there. Either be there already or, head up the bank, through the creek and kneel in the brush to see if you can recapture your innocence, envelop your self-reliant nature and reconnect to that which God has bestowed upon us with the woodsy knowledge our ancestors passed down to all of us through our very DNA.
Bob Wayne Jaeger is a hunter, Outdoorsman and shares a lineage with Ellsworth Jaeger and generations of professional Outdoorsmen. This website and our YouTube channel is a simple “fireside chat” for you to share in this knowledge and pass down to your children. Cherish it for what it is, why it is here and how you can use it.
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