Hunting, fishing key to dad’s trips

Many people whose father has passed on can tell wonderful stories of all the places their dad took the family on vacation. I would say our family only took one traditional vacation while I was growing up.

That's not to say my father never took us anywhere. It's just that wherever that Terry-style vacation took us, it had to meet some pretty strict requirements for dad.

Number one, it couldn't interfere with any irrigating, harvest or major job prospect. Since much of that time he was either farming or custom harvesting that was more than understandable.

Number two, it should involve a fishing pole or a hunting rifle.

Number three, it couldn't involve staying in a hotel or motel or anything to do with what he called a "tourist trap" (a town or area that made its living off sightseers). Campers, well off the beaten track were his style.

While those were the rules for going places when I was growing up, after I was grown I saw the tables turn.

Those trips in that little plywood pickup camper growing up left some pretty strong memories. I still don't know how a family of five slept inside that tiny little box, but we did.

Dad was the breakfast chef over an old propane camp stove. With a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee on the tailgate of the pickup he would stir together diced potatoes, eggs and either sausage or bacon.

Eating that scramble around a campfire I never could figure out why eggs and bacon never tasted like that at home.

I remember running trotlines at midnight with my dad and marveling at how he could take us out to the lines in the dark with just a lantern.

Oh, the excitement of hearing a big catfish or two thrashing the water as dad walked the line hand-over-hand, then finally spying the leviathan in the light from the lantern I was charged with holding overhead so dad could see.

Or, the time deer hunting when we had scored doe permits in the public drawing. Dad told us jokingly beforehand that he was going out to shoot a sore-footed, blind old doe. Middle of the morning I came upon him dressing a three-legged doe. I guess that old girl wasn't running too fast.

Some of my best memories of fishing involve taking fathers out fishing later in their lives. I think I got to see a glimpse of what fathers get to feel when their kids are young and first experiencing fishing.

I had a great day on the water with my wife's father that I'll never forget, even though I got in trouble for keeping him out so long. I had a whole week on the water with a good friend's father. It turned out to be his last long trip to the trout stream he loved. And I had a couple days with my dad that still make me smile.

One of those days I was fishing with dad on a mountain lake and a fish, big enough to pull his rod (actually my rod) into the lake bit. He waded into that icy water after it, got hold of the pole in knee deep water and started reeling. He was giggling like a kid as he dragged himself and the fish to the bank. Soon his teeth were chattering but we were all happy.

Fancy vacations in fancy hotels might make you a hero with mom but dads can't do anything better than to take their kids fishing as far as I'm concerned. Sons shouldn't pass up the chance to turn things around when their dads are older. Soon enough we're left without that opportunity.

Karl Terry, a former publisher of the Quay County Sun, writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

karlterry@yucca.net

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