Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cool Stuff...

All outdoor folks have some cool stuff that holds some kind of meaning to them. These things are likely not all that valuable, at least in terms of dollars and cents, but might offer a worth that money can’t measure up to. Over the years people are bound to hang on to some tangible bit of wood, metal, material or whatever that they’ve used or collected for some obscure reasons known only to themselves. I know a man who doesn’t hunt anymore but keeps an old Faulk’s duck call on his end table. The call is split up the side and doesn’t work anymore and he’s lucky to have a wife who understands. At first glance most folks would wonder why it hadn’t found the trashcan long ago. The old guy hardly ever notices it himself, but when he does it means something.

I have an old military issue mirror that was my Grandfather’s. He gave it to my Dad and he passed it on to me. I’ve used it camping in the BWCA and elsewhere when I or someone with me thought a mirror would be useful. It’s made from a rectangle of very high quality stainless steel and is of a size that just covers my hand. There is a hole punched in one end for hanging and is kept in its own canvas case. I wonder if such quality steel is available anymore – this piece of steel reflects true distortion-free images from either side. I can picture Gramps using it to shave from tent or trench, maintaining military discipline, before grabbing his Springfield for battle in Europe.

Years ago there was a fellow named Charlie S. who handmade a few dog bells for his setters to wear on their collars when he hunted grouse with them. I’ve seen a lot of bells in my time but his were unique in sound and style. I know of two men Charlie gave one of his bells to. I am one of them. My setter, Molly, was wearing it when she won the Minnesota Grouse Dog Championship. I’ve had some good dogs since, but none that have lived up to wearing her bell.

The Buck Folding Hunter is probably the best known Buck Knife ever made. When they first came out I wanted one badly, but could never seem to find the money to purchase one. When my sister presented me one for Christmas I didn’t know what to say. Susan was just a teen with a part-time job and to buy me such a gift was a real sacrifice for her. I was thankful, sure, but she deserved far more than she ever got from me. I cut my initials into it and carried that knife on my belt daily for years before finally reserving it for hunting only. Every deer I’ve ever killed or helped others with has been dressed, skinned, and cut with that old Buck Knife. I’ll never use another for deer hunting. Shortly after she gave me that knife, my sister died in a vehicle accident. Every year I handle that knife; open and close it; pull it over the whetstone; pass it from hand to hand, I wonder what kind of woman Susan would have become. And I treasure that knife.

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