The business of life is the acquisition of memories
O'Neill Williams' face wearing sock cap standing outside in the snow

Creating another memory.

Ok, so you are a tough guy. You go fishing and hunting no matter what the weather: cold, windy, wet, dark, it does not matter. Good for you, you are probably under 40. I once was, and was a tough guy too, about fishing and hunting anyway.

I was thinking about some of the trips I have endured. Take note of the word “endured.” Of course, I wasn’t alone, no sir, I always had a partner, most of the time just as determined. You don’t do this kind of stupid stuff alone.

Once in the late ’60s, I was in my 20s, a good fishing and hunting friend since high school, and now a gun store owner, Rick Hobbins and I stopped at one of the seepage ponds deep in South Georgia.  These are natural ponds that surfaced when Lake Seminole backed up and the water table began to rise. We had been at the lake for four miserable days during February and thought a few hours more on the water would be in order. We rented a small wooden jon boat at the bait store. Get this picture now – 36-degrees, raining, windy, only one little wooden paddle and not a single bite. The water was about five inches deep in the boat and rising fast. Back then, we wore only rain ponchos, had no boots, only tennis shoes. What a couple of dummies. We did not have any fancy gear. After about four hours, we gave it up, thoroughly soaked, cold and fishless. That was over 50 years ago, but I remember it well.

It was during one of the old Georgia Bass Anglers tournaments, in January of 1979, at Lake Hartwell way up in the corner of North Georgia. I was in the points lead for the championship at the time so “I just had to go.”  Forty seven boats went out that morning. It was 3 degrees. The high that day was 9 and the wind gusted to 30 mph. My partner and I never caught a fish, although he claimed a bite later in the day. I could not possibly forget that.

How could I leave out the infamous Griffin, Georgia duck pond adventure? 6 degrees! Good grief!  We had to break through two inches of ice to wade out thigh deep. We had no duck blind so we thought that a soggy wade into the trees would hide us. Painful indeed! I believe one duck flew by. At least someone said they heard one. I was too cold to hear anything over chattering teeth. I forgot my partner’s name, but not the hunt. It was 55 years ago.

Gotta mention a day at Brigadoon Lodge on the Soque River in North Georgia. Six of us ventured forth for a well-planned mountain trout excursion. It was 8 degrees when we pulled up to the stream, about the time of the first cast into the gin-clear water as we waded into the river curves, a fast flowing stream with a temperature of 34, it started snowing, big floaty flakes the size of quarters. Should we leave and call it off, after all who could have predicted this?  Heck no, stick with it, make a cast to two. Of course, in due time, the line was freezing in the guides and we all were walking snowmen.  That truck sure was warm later.

By the time you read this, I’ll be 77 years old. WOW. Damn, what happened? Tell you what though, I don’t recall many days at the office or on the road selling all those years ago, but I sure do remember those days mentioned above and the thousands or so many more days afield; sometimes painful but always worth the effort.

You’ll have to pardon me now, this Fall we’re headed for Montana and a muzzleloader sheep hunt at 12,000 feet. Cold, no air to breathe, windy and, with these old football knees surgically repaired over 60 years ago, with the right one now totally replaced with platinum, painful. No matter, still have the need to give it a try.

See what I mean? Building memories! That’s what you will carry with you if you just test yourself. I loved those days, always will. Now, go get some for yourself. You’re not so tough. I know what you are doing, just gathering up conversation for the fireside when you are too old to go anymore. Remember that the business of life is the acquisition of memories.

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