I am fond of reminiscing about special times afield (arent they all---and dont we all?).
It inevitably takes me back to my youthful days roaming the woods like an adolescent Sasquatch, hunting with gun, bow, steel trap, and string.
Acquisition of a rusty, flea-market Schwinn propelled me into theretofore-unknown mobility---figuratively and literally. The handlebar basket carried sundries and possibles, and the rear fender platform---augmented with the industrious and creative application of baling wire---handled overflow.
Carrying a firearm was a bit problematic. Strapped horizontally across the handlebars proved incompatible with narrow, brush-lined trails. Tied vertically along one of the front forks worked well---until bike and I took a header off a shallow but steep embankment. It took Pop the better part of a day to straighten the barrel of my single-shot 20-gauge with a house-movers jack beneath the tractor drawbar.
I tried carrying various long arms across my back with makeshift rope slings, and I think I still have a few thorns and maybe a rock or two embedded in my backside after too many unhappy convergences of speed, gun barrel, and low-hanging limbs.
Notwithstanding all the bumps, grinds, crashes, and wrecks, Id not trade my days as a bicycling outdoorsman for a sure-enough-good coonhound. The unfettered mobility accented inevitable adventure, and heaped immeasurable wealth onto a treasure of experiences and memories.
Hunter Krenek on his $10 hunting bike. Photo : HUNTER KRENEK
So, it was with happy nostalgia that I received a note and photograph from reader Hunter Krenek, an avid hunter scraping by on a college students budget.
His note tells the tale:
Over 14 years of dove hunting, Ive gradually streamlined the gear that I take into the field. My shotgun, an orange vest, a box of shells, two plastic decoys, and a water bottle are my essential items, but now they are joined by the bicycle.
The hot walk down to my favorite mesquite tree is now a short, breezy ride along a cow path as I elevate myself on the pedals to look for doves.
I got my bike from helping a friend move across town. Ten dollars and some elbow grease later, I had a lean, mean, hunting and fishing machine.
I recommend that anyone bring a bike hunting. Besides the healthy exercise, you save time better spent hunting and add another element of enjoyment to your hunting experience. Lets face it; riding a bike is a lot of fun, too.
As George Bernard Shaw observed, youth is wasted on the young. Many outdoorsmen my age bear the weight of scars, badly healed bones, and other reminders of misadventure and misspent youth. All the doctors and all the kings men couldnt put us together again after a bicycle wreck of any import---and in my case, just pedaling one would be a wreck.
Nonetheless, I am gratified to see young woodsmen revisiting the old ways with new trappings and contraptions. It portends tales of the "old days" shared with their children and grandchildren, and assures the longevity of the axiom: "There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young." ---Oliver Wendell Holmes