Tuesday, August 16, 2011


     I've been told by several friends, as I've discarded belongings of little perceived value, that I'm not a sentimental guy. My friends would readily snatch up things from our past that should have held some sentimental meanings, but had just become clutter. Perhaps there's some truth in the statement; I do tend to value practicality, and efficiency. But I'm not immune to the concept totally.

     The wife and I spent this past weekend in the Berkshires. She'd received a voucher for concert tickets as a bonus at work, and we were overdue for a long weekend get-a-way, so we were off to Tanglewood. Naturally, catering to the wife's whims for the weekend would allow me a little outdoor indulgence. I just couldn't let her know prior to our departure that I'd already calculated the price of my niceness. So on day two, as we drove around exploring I mentioned an old friend, Mac, just south of the Mass border that I'd not seen in some time, my father and I used to hunt Mac's farm, and I'd like to pay a quick visit. Sounded innocuous enough to be quickly agreed to, and a plan was set; Monday morning we'd drive down to visit Mac on his farm before having lunch in Great Barrington, and heading home.

     The ride south on Sunday quite definitely filled me a sense of nostalgia. The farm looked as it had the last time I was there, practically unchanged in ten years. Following the same pattern I had in the years when I hunted Mac's farm, I drove to the barn where Mac would often be found. The barn, however, held no sign of my friend, though clearly someone had recently been there, a wagon full of hay halfway backed into the barn. As I prepared to drive the 1/2 mile to the house I was greeted by a middle-aged gentleman who appeared himself to also be a farmer. Explaining that I was looking for Mac, I was informed that Mac had retired some years back, and was seldom at the barn anymore. I was somewhat surprised to hear of Mac's retirement. I hadn't ever thought of it, expecting some how that things would remain the same.

     At the house we were happily greeted by Mac, and his wife Linda. At 75 Mac had changed little. He looked older, but 10 years had passed since I'd last seen him, so it only stood to reason. The Mac I remembered had always kept a well trimmed beard, of a slightly reddish hue, and was never without a hat, but on this day he was shaved clean, and without a hat. He looked sharp in a tattersall, and work pants devoid of the usual stains one would expect to collect working livestock.

     Mac wasted no time filled me in on state of affairs in the woodlands that surrounded the farm. Seated in front of a laptop, Mac pulled up file after file of trail cam pictures; wide racked bucks in velvet, big coyotes, bobcats, and bears. Over the years a sow had taken up residence in the swamp below. Her and her two cubs were showing up regularly on trail cams, and a member of the family had to abandon his hunting plans one evening when her and her cubs were camped out under his treestand. But the real surprise came when he showed me this.

      Have you seen this photo before? I had. In fact, this photo had been e-mailed to me by a friend after he'd seen it circulating the Internet. Turns out this photo which was in a file on Mac's computer along with several others taken at different angles, had been published in a magazine, and online was taken on the farm. One of the pictures showed land features which I immediately recognized, and when I inquired, Mac confirmed that the picture was indeed taken where I thought it had, and that I had good recollection of the property. Turns out that over the years I'd hung treestands within 100 yards in either direction of the treestand in the picture. I'd even arrowed a decent 5 pointer, my first buck,  in that same wood lot back in '98.
     While every sportsman sees things that measure somewhere on the amazing scale every time they're in the outdoors, I'd found it amazing that I'd been so intimate with a small section of woodlands that has in some way found it's way into the limelight.

     Visiting Mac, and seeing the farm again was quite nostalgic. It's stirred in me, at least temporarily, a desire to get in some serious deer hunting, too. It was enjoyable catching up with someone who's generosity will never be forgotten, and  without a doubt I will return with offerings, as my father and I always did when we hunted the farm nearly 15 years ago. My only regret is not having had enough time to stick around long enough to enjoy a dram of single malt with Mac while listening to him play his bagpipes on the porch. Next time. I'll bring the Scotch.

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