Hunting and fishing can be an escape in trying times


Sometimes these stories write themselves. Sometimes they don't want to be written at all. This one has been a particular struggle.

I have been fortunate that the outdoors have been a big part of my life. When I was young, whether it was fishing, hunting, riding horses, hiking or swimming in the river, the outdoors was always my escape. It continues that way today.

Families everywhere will be sitting down today for Thanksgiving dinner. As my blended family comes together there will be one person missing from the table, the most important one.

Earlier this year my wife, Liz, died unexpectedly. Her absence will create a huge void in the day for all of us. Because in numbers there comes comfort and that is the reason we all need to be together today.

To say this has been a hard year for all of us would be an understatement. Most everyone knows the feeling.

As I have looked for a way to cope the last 10 months I have once again sought refuge in the outdoors. Thankfully it was there.

It started before the funeral and has continued since with the support of the hunting and fishing community who have provided both sympathy and empathy.

Some of those have been friends for life, some I have met through my years at the Tyler Paper and some at the time were complete strangers that have become friends. They might not have always known what to say, so they spoke a language we both could relate to, hunting and fishing tales. If only for a few minutes they were the great escape.

Then came the trips outdoors, big ones to Mexico and Brazil to fish were important because both were unplugged. No computers. No cell phones. No television or radio. Just the experience, the scenery, the action and my own thoughts. It took a couple of days to acclimate to being unwired, but it is not such a bad thing. I realized it has been a long time since I have been able to hear myself think.

Those trips were great, but unfortunately the bank says I can't do one a week. That is when daily fishing trips to local lakes and a friend's private lake took up the slack.

So did spring turkey season with hunts in Brown, Llano and Kerr counties. Two were a bust. The third may have been in the top three best spring hunts I have ever had. In the end, however, all three were great adventures and another day spent outdoors.

Then came dove season, the front door to all fall hunting in Texas. Dove season has always held a special place because it was what my dad and I did from the time before I could hold a shotgun until the last year he could. It is also where I started with my sons, Tristan and Thomas.

I just went twice this year, but both times were with groups of men and women who were fun to be with.

And now it is the fall season. This is potentially a good year for deer, ducks and quail, something that doesn't come along often and should be consider special when it does.

Hunting season doesn't mean the end of fishing season and I have been doing that as well, and have plans to keep going as the air and water temperatures fall to miserable levels.

My sons are grown now, and work keeps them from getting away and going with me as often as I would like. Those early trips meant a lot as I watched them grow into hunters and fishermen. Now that they are probably better at it than I, when we can go it just keeps getting better.

And soon there will be grandchildren old enough for kids' rods and BB guns.

I write all of this for a reason. It is Thanksgiving, and even under trying times there are things to be thankful about. For me, it is the outdoors. I am lucky because it has been both a vocation and an avocation.

My life has changed. It certainly isn't headed the direction I had expected this time a year ago. There are tough days, but I am always thankful for the outdoors.

Like the sign someone posted earlier this week on Facebook said, Nature, cheaper than therapy.

Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at AllTexasOutdoors and on Twitter @alltexasoutdoor .


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