Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to have some great success in some of the toughest areas, and that is thanks to my father. As a child, he did not put off hunting or any outdoor endeavor because I was with him, instead he included me. Because of this I learned an immense respect for Mother Nature and every single experience she provides us with. He was there for the misses and the success, both with a hug and a mouthful of education that, at the time, I may have been reluctant to hear, but now with a family of my own I find myself regurgitating the same lessons onto my children. I hope that one day I can share some experiences with my kids, in the wild, in wonderment of all this world has to offer.
This past year I became friends with a pretty unlikely person, some of you hockey fans may know him, Brad Marchand. One of the most tenacious, hardworking, loved, and hated hockey players in the NHL, love him or hate him, he obviously plays with passion. As I soon found out, this passion transfers to the outdoors. Through our talks, I learned his whole family hunts and enjoys the outdoors. I will say this: the guy has golden horseshoe syndrome. On our very first hunt together, he killed, while I filmed, a beautiful three year old 8pt buck… In the first hour of our hunt! Soon we were already making plans for spring turkey season to take place in the suburbs of Boston.
As spring approached, the regular season for the Boston Bruins started to wind down, and was a game to game situation to whether or not they would make the playoffs. Unfortunately, despite Brad’s best efforts, the Bruins did not make the playoff. A very bitter sweet situation, I myself being a Bruins fan, but also for Brad’s season being over… but he would be able to turkey hunt. Opening day was just around the corner and I had been scouting every day I could. The plan was for Brad, myself and Brad’s father to head out with A.j. DeRosa along to document every single bad call I made on camera. Brad absolutely insisted his father Kevin be the first up to bat. Kevin, one of the nicest men I’ve ever met was soft spoken and incredibly friendly; he seemed to fit right in, in fact reminding me much of my father which was a welcome thought due to me not being able to spend opening day with my father for several years.
Of course the morning went absolutely as planned. Yeah… when has anyone ever said that? The birds I had roosted weren’t there, they were a mile and a half away, which took us some time to locate. Once we did, it was a thunderous occasion. It happened fast, but soon we had three crimson blue heads with horsetails for beards at the thirty yard marker. I whispered to Kevin, “they are in range, take the front bird when you get a shot.” Soon after, the twelve gauge roared a couple of times, and we were left with some empty shell casings and a fast heartbeat. Fearing the worst, I looked at Kevin, expecting a low hanging head and sunken shoulders, knowing that is the look that would appear on me. Instead, there was this tall man, head high with bright eyes grinning from ear to ear, all he could say was “Wow! That was exciting eh?” I loved it, and we were on to our next spot.
It didn’t take us long to get into another bird–the typical suburban bird that A.J. DeRosa and I had worked hundreds of times–and it was gently coerced, but of course did not come in as planned. Instead of coming the usual way any bird would want to travel, he flanked Kevin not offering a shot. Praying that someone would eventually shoot, Brad had recognized the situation and had shifted his body, waited till the bird came out of strut at fifteen yards, and killed his first mature Tom with A.j. and a very expensive Canon camera right over his shoulder, and his father watching with a giant grin on his face. The obligatory celebration had begun; high fives, hugs and admiration for the bird was to follow, and Brad looked at his father and said “I wish he would’ve given you a shot pop,” to which Kevin replied, “ I don’t care, I just got to watch my son shoot a giant! I couldn’t be more proud.” Then it hit me. Brad Marchand, professional world celebrated hockey player, star, and son to a great man just shared a very ordinary–to me and everyone else obsessed with turkeys– experience with his father for the first time. The same experience I have been blessed to share with my father many times and hope I will for many years to come. And then it hit me: hunting is far more than putting food on a dinner plate or in your freezer–although that is one of the main reasons I hunt. The experiences and relationships that are made and solidified in these great outdoors are second to none. My mind is full of high definition memories that no matter how dire the situation, will put a grin on my face, and endear those who I share them with to my heart forever. It was nice to see that the great woods makes us all equal and am blessed to have made a few more friends. Now, to make those elk trip plans with A.j and Brad for 2016… adventure awaits indeed.