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Outdoor Truths by Gary Miller;gary@outdoortruths.org

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I was a mischievous youngster. Not mean, just mischievous. The local gang of boys got a little rowdy when all of us came together. I remember things like throwing eggs on Halloween, building a foxhole to hide in on the Fourth of July after we lit our fireworks, and even sneaking around in places that we were not allowed to be. I don’t know if all kids were that way but this was the makeup of the boys of Ford’s Woods. We played football, basketball, and baseball together. We hunted and fished. We fussed, cussed, and fought among one another, only to make up in a few days. It’s still hard for me to believe that several of those, once ornery boys, became preachers later in life. I guess that was the only way that we could ever make up for all of those days when we needed forgiveness.

My roguish behavior also manifested itself in the woods. I shot my BB gun at all kinds of critters. I didn’t know any better. One day I thought that one of the critters was taking revenge. I had walked up into the woods behind my house with my trusty Daisy rifle in hand. I was looking for a squirrel. The sun had just risen and was making it hard for me to see up in the trees. As I was plodding along I noticed the silhouette of a big bird high on a limb. I didn’t know at the time that it was a large hoot owl. I aimed my gun at the center of its body and pulled the trigger. I don’t know if I hit it or not but the bird immediately spread his wings to take flight. The sun’s position at his back made him look enormous and I thought he was swooping directly toward me. I ran as fast as I could to get away from the “prehistoric” bird that, I thought, was going to sweep me off my feet and carry me to its lair. As you can tell this was another lasting impression from my childhood in the great outdoors.

We all have memories like these and many of you tell me how these articles, at times, bring you back to your own childhood. It’s good that we remember those times. They are part of who you are now and they reveal what makes you the happiest. Have you lost your smile today? Take a trip back. Remember one of those “hoot owl” moments. And before long a smile will creep up where it belongs and just where you left it.

Gary Miller

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