Accept My Everlasting Thanks, Paul ... for Noticing

Article excerpt

After several years of coaxing from my angling pal Rand, I finally decided to lay it all out.

Of course when I thought about it, I was a bit reluctant to talk about me instead of someone else who deserves the applause.

So I sat down at the keyboard so I could share the following with you.

We were just walking up to the truck after a very exhausting grouse hunt when Paul looked over at me and said, "You're something else pal, you always dive in to life every single day."

We got in, pulled out the thermos bottles and drank some hot coffee while reassessing the afternoon hunt. It was another of our many celebrations for just being alive and accepting what the woods and waters offered us.

I was very moved by Paul's statement.

My late friend is no longer with me since his death in 2011.

His absence was just as powerful to me as the death of Buck Squancho. Two outdoor compadres whose cups always ran over with the juice of the wild.

In Paul's lifetime, he was one of those individuals who could accomplish most tasks placed before him.

In fact, he reminded me of broadcast sidekick A.J., who prides himself as a problem solver and innovative carpenter.

Paul, on the other hand, could spot a grouse on a tree branch 50 feet away, and then nail it before the dog could sound the alarm.

His casting ability improved every season, and he displayed his prowess by tossing a small Mepps spinner to a smallmouth bass that was hiding behind a tiny chunk of partially submerged boulder.

His generations-old shotguns glistened from constant cleaning and top-coating applications of fine gun oil.

And his kitchen skills earned him nods from some of Chicago's finest haute-cuisine chefs.

But one aspect of his life that drove me nuts was his refusal to pick up a fly rod and learn the simple and easy lessons necessary to add to his outdoor repertoire. He always claimed fly fishing was far too complicated for a simple-minded bloke like himself. He ridiculed fly fishing as "something snobs did with their money."

Once we were on a trout expedition that didn't allow an angler to use anything except a fly. …