A routine chore uncovers a scrapbook
BY THE MASKED BIOLOGIST
Special to the Star Journal
Last weekend I was running low on firewood and was forced to empty out the back of the truck. My truck isn’t just a vehicle; it is a rolling toolbox, a hunting base camp, a recreational vehicle, an ice fishing shanty, and sometimes a moving or garbage truck. Even though I pride myself on keeping my truck clean, there are always small items that disappear into the crevices and corners of the bed especially when I get busy. Since I had to pull out all my ice fishing gear, and the tool boxes and other items I haul along everywhere I go, it seemed like the time to give it a thorough cleaning. I was surprised by how many memories I had rolling around in the bed of that old truck.
There was an empty rifle cartridge, which I realized after a few seconds was from the round I fired at the deer I harvested this fall. A couple of empty shotgun shells were frozen to the bed. They were rusty, a telltale sign that I brought them back from of one of my duck hunts. I found a bit of bendable coated wire, which I recognized as an improvised lantern hanger from our last family camping outing Labor Day weekend. I found a broken bungee cord, which I recognized from one of our family’s river tubing outings. Something new for this year, a practice tip for a crossbow bolt from my first year participating in the sport. I found a ball of fishing line with a bobber clipped to it; while there were a few fishing outings last summer, I would bet it was from our Father’s Day outing to Perch Lake. It was a very windy day, and I remember our fishing lines getting fouled a few times on a log along shore.
In my crate of ratchet straps, I found an empty LP canister from one of my grouse hunting trips, where I usually grill a lunch on the tailgate of the truck. Luckily my burger was just cooked enough to eat when the gas ran out! There was also an empty bug spray can from our trip to a friend’s lakeside cabin for our traditional Independence Day celebration, an afternoon of fishing followed by an evening of fireworks, venison, and feeding mosquitoes. I pulled out a couple of empty candy bar wrappers stashed there by my oldest son, a chocolate fanatic, from last spring’s turkey hunting season.
Way in the back corner was a small metal dog food dish, which I started hauling along when I started field training my lab pup last summer. I also found a small orange leash inside, which I used to try to keep him from leaping out of the duck skiff on our training runs. It turns out you can’t teach common sense to a dog; you must let them develop it for themselves. I also found a couple of chewed pieces of rubber that he chewed off one of his fetching bumpers.
It really struck me that we had done so much last year. I always have such high hopes for a full suite of hunting, fishing, boating, and camping activities throughout the year but I usually end up doing less than I would like. I have been hauling these random bits of memories around with me everywhere I go, but haven’t put them all together to think about the big picture.
Now, of course, I have all kinds of sawdust and bark frozen to the bed of my truck. Soon spring will be here, and I will be sweeping the truck out and setting it up to start taking the kids turkey hunting again. The new year is like the back of my truck, waiting to be filled and refilled with a year’s worth of activities and adventures with my family and my friends.
The Masked Biologist earned a Bachelor of Science degree from a university with a highly regarded wildlife biology program. His work in natural resource agencies across the country provided opportunities to gain experience with a variety of common and rare fish, plant and wildlife species. Follow The Masked Biologist on Facebook. Email questions to MaskedBiologist@charter.net.