By Tim H. Martin
Photo: For more than 30 years, Tim H. Martin has kept an outdoor journal. He uses it to capture deer data, but more importantly, he uses it to capture memories.
In Robert Ruark's beloved classic, “The Old Man and the Boy,” he describes March as “a fine month for remembering.” With deer season now gone, March is the perfect time to reflect on the highs and lows of seasons past.
Back in 1985, I began to jot down notes after coming home from hunting. My idea was to keep track of deer activity and record hunting conditions such as temperature, moon phase, rutting activity, time of day sightings and so forth. This data proved to be valuable over the years, but what I discovered to be priceless were the little memories I’d captured.
In 2012, for instance, I wrote about several sessions in a treestand with my then-11-year-old son, Graham, as we hunted for his first buck. Twice, he had a buck in his sights but chose not to shoot because of awkward shot angles. I made note, and we moved our stand over the summer. It paid off with his first buck the next season.
Because of these records, not only did we improve treestand selections, but I also recorded our adventures to read years later, delighting in the details. Like sitting on the tailgate at lunch, sharing a thermos of hot chicken and dumplings and singing Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” Or checking Graham out of school so often his teacher got mad at me. Or my son's expression when a pileated woodpecker lit on a nearby limb and began jack-hammering, its ruckus startling the boy out of a mid-afternoon daze.
My favorite entry from that season was when a beautiful 7-pointer stepped out of the pines and made a scrape within sight of our stand. The angle was poor for Graham to get a clear shot, but we had the safety off and only needed the buck to take one step to the left. Unfortunately, it stepped to the right, and back into the pines. It was then I heard a strange tapping noise that I couldn't figure out. Then I realized the entire tree was shaking. In my journal, I wrote that my son smiled up at me when he realized the tap-tap-tapping was coming from his shaking rifle that was resting on the shooting rail. There's a memory that won't get away!
I encourage you to preserve memories like these and start your own outdoor journal. All it takes is a notebook, a pen and a few minutes. Your children and your children's children will cherish your efforts. Read Recent Tip of the Week:
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