By: Ted Nugent
Ah, life goes on! Work hard, play hard, try hard, rock hard, hunt hard, and I love every minute of it.
I just went for a long, adventurous walk in the woods with my dogs here at our SpiritWild Ranch home in Texas, and made it a point to go slow as if I was hunting, better taking in all the beauty of nature and the always titillating and inspiring graphics of God’s wild creation.
The dogs kept me at full alert as they diligently sniffed and examined every tree, ditch, mudhole, tangle and clearing. I did my best to keep up with them and found it increasingly interesting to follow their lead and take the time to look into every nook and cranny along with them.
As we moved through the forest and thickets, it seemed like every few yards we came upon a familiar piece of ground that brought back powerful memories of some past occurrence.
At the base of this old oak tree was where I finally found that big eight-point buck I had arrowed many, many years ago. Every magical detail of that afternoon hunt came storming back in graphic imagery of the dark, cloudy sky, the whipping leafy canopy, the cawing crows, the slowly advancing deer and how painstakingly I had to get the shot off for that exciting kill.
Farther on at the edge of the little woodland pond, the dogs got a little more uppity as a few gadwalls splashed and lifted off the murky water.
The little cedar covered duckblind was in a wintertime state of disarray, but Lord have mercy how my mind’s eye replayed all those spine-tingling duck hunts of yore with Happy and Gonzo, and more recently, Happy, Sadie and Coco.
I could actually visualize the big greenhead mallards taking flight, the colorful wood ducks splashing aloft and supersonic teal whizzing overhead.
I could see my beloved old black lab Gonzo heaving his big 90 pound muscled body into the waters going after duck after duck after duck.
God he was an amazing hunting companion for 14 years.
At one point Happy went wild, barking and yelping frantically as he treed a big bushytailed fox squirrel only to have the highly educated limbrat dive headlong into a hole.
But the next pecan tree over brought back vivid memories of a not-so-lucky squirrel that Happy actually leapt through the air and caught in mid-flight just before it gained escape altitude a few years back.
Hiking another hundred yards or so, we came upon a big, mature red pine tree that still held some tattered 2×4 boards high up in the limbs, reminding me of the death-defying rituals of old treestand carpentry shortcomings back in the days. I recalled the giant doe I arrowed from that dangerous perch, and it was that day I vowed to never create such an unsafe treestand ever again.
We rounded the bend in the dry creekbed approaching the nearly impenetrable cedar jungle and had to squat-crouch-claw-crawl our way through it.
In its thickest epicenter was the briarpatch where I retrieved my first SpiritWild hog kill, barely able to drag and hoist the beast out of the tangle and into an opening where I could load the rank boar into my ATV.
Our little homeground tour ended a few hours later, and as we strolled the last quarter mile or so across the 50 acre hayfield back to the hacienda, I not only smiled happily at the nonstop fun memories of this walk-about, but actually giggled audibly with joy at the reality that such a simple walk on my sacred wildgrounds had brought back a nonstop flurry of exciting memories.
All the sights of this day and past days were emblazoned in my psyche. The sounds and smells of every step of the way were added stimuli that allowed me to not just remember, but to actually re-live each and every wonderful moment of past hunts and excursions.
Hunting is always thrilling beyond words, but we can experience those wonderful sensations over and over again and again if we just make that extra effort to go back to our beloved hunting grounds, not matter how remote or how convenient.
There is a lot of fishing, shed hunting, turkey scouting, varmint hunting and trapping still to be enjoyed, but never forget how a simple walk beyond the pavement can rekindle some of those very best moments in our lives.
We can go back and we should go back. Take a walk on the wildside every chance you can, and it will cleanse your soul and keep us tuned in to the important things in life.
Great memories are the best trophies of all.