He was 10 and attempted to shoot an ORANGE off of his brother's head with a bow and arrow. Confidence oozed as he drew the bow, anchored and released...almost on target. The metal tipped target arrow struck his little brother just outside his eyesocket creating a scary but superficial wound. I got to watch an epic asswhooping of mass proportions seconds after his mother heard of her archer son's attempt....he is my most adventurous fishing buddy, he's a bit more prepared for the task at hand than he was that day in my back yard 39 years ago. But, he'll still sling a proverbial arrow from time to time just to see where it lands.
On our first kayak fishing trip we paddled 19 miles on lake Blue Ridge setting the bar for our version of adventure. We didn't catch a single fish and were both worn out but we enjoyed every single minute of the 14 hours on the water.
Since that day I have fished, paddled and camped in 4 states with him. Nothing has been easy, its required extensive planning, creative logistics and a lot of luck. I've seen him catch his first walleye, biggest smallmouth and biggest trout. He was there with me when I landed my first Suwannee bass that was also my 31st freshwater fish species from a kayak in a year. He has a great eye with a camera and when it comes to computers, he is a master at online scouting and recon of potential areas to visit.
We've camped in some of the most remote and beautiful places I've ever seen. We hiked into Ellico'ts Rock Wilderness area with the Polar Vortex of 2014 bearing down on us with the main intent of testing our camping gear. -3 degrees were met with confidence and anticipation the second night of our trip and we emerged unscathed and actually had fun.
We repelled a well planned attack from a gangly band of racoons on our camp at Little Tybee island without a single drop of blood being shed.
We've had tornadic storms pass over while camping in one of the most remote areas of the Cohutta Wilderness and he's never said anything but that he's ready for the next trip.
We floated Florida's Santa Fe river for 3 days stopping to camp in the jungle like setting each evening all while witnessing some of the most beautiful flora and fauna along with bizarre river features (sinks and rises)we'd ever seen.
With the amount of time we've spent on the water and in the woods we were bound to see some extremely rare sites...a fish eating snake on the Chattahoochee, a hitchhiking squirell on Carter's Lake and a mysterious large footprint along the banks of the Conasauga river in the middle of the Cohutta Wilderness.
There has been some minor casualties...my count is 3 lost fishing rod and reels and 2 broken ones, several on the run gear repairs and a hellacious case of giardia (probably caused by the combination of a faulty water purifier and a heaping pile of fresh bear mess located next to the spring 100 yards up the hill from our camp). My poor car is a 2014 model and has almost 30,000 miles on it (at least half of that has been fishing/camping trips), I currently have 4 fishing reels in the shop being rebuilt and another two that needs it yet none of these things have deterred us from the next adventure. Like the postman...come hell or high water we're gonna hit the woods.
He loves and respects nature as much as I do and I will admit that I probably wouldn't have visited half of the places I did if not for him. We witnessed God's creation on a level that many only dream of...not from a car window but actually feeling it, tasting it and down right wallowing in it for days on end....thank God for little plastic boats.
What lies ahead? Who knows, we've talked about several trips including the Flint River and the Collins in Tennessee for the immediate future and paddling the Grand Loop(Google it) after retirement or if we stay alive long enough. But whatever it may be, my buddy will be willing, prepared and ready to go. While shooting an apple off of someone's head with a bow is a daring feat he's gonna find an orange to nail. Peace