I find that of all the groups out there in this world today, outdoorsman have a different bond with each other than almost any and are far more in touch with themselves as a person. Hunting and fishing is a way of life, its a breed, its a memory and a religion; but it is also a lesson that no school can teach. It teaches you about patience, passion, dedication and to have that fire of love grow untamed. For some, they like to get out and away from the real the world and escape into Gods Country where as others it is simply a way of life.
For me, I will say right now that it is all of the above and I have learnt more from hunting and fishing then from any school teacher, who was my mentor? My father, Stuart Heather.
Looking back as far as I can remember there are memory's that will never be lost, they are engraved in my memory, even though some are blurry as far as images go, the experience will never die. I can remember being about 6 years old fishing for Rainbow Trout with my dad and younger brother fishing from shore smashing off trout by the dozens (this could be a fish tale), or being in the Bronco sitting on top of a coulee looking for that big buck at sunset. To my dad, it was more of taking us along just so he could get out but to me, it is the start of something so amazing. At that time, being 6 years old or even 12, you don't see how those key moments are going to affect the later days of someones life but being 24 now, I can see it clearly!
My father is my idol, my hero and my mentor even though we didn't get to experience adventures every year but no matter where I lived or how far away I was he was teaching me every time I stepped foot into God's Country. I will never forget my first elk hunt back when I was 18 years old.
I was playing junior hockey in Golden, British Columbia and had a turn for the worst and was released from the team. My first place to go was back to Medicine Hat and I was back home within 24 hours of my release. Stuart (dad) had his special bull licence for the Cypress Hills management hunt and was left alone on this hunt. Even though I should have been looking for work I was going to be his pack mule, and I will tell you this right now, I was the happiest mule alive. Finally, I get to hunt with my idol and we are going for elk!!
So we headed out a few days prior to the hunt and at this time the elk 'should' be coming off of the rut so we figured that it would be a good idea to find where they are travelling in hopes of cutting a herd off coming from the fields. Well, I will tell you what, the picture perfect scenario of having bulls screaming, charging in was an under statement. We were just walking back to the truck and had about a 1/2 mile to go and we decided to give one last rip on the tube to see if we could at least here a bull. Not 10 seconds later, he answered and wasn't that far away. So we both looked at each other, grinned and said "should we try to get close?" both knowing that we could end up spooking that bull we couldn't help but go in after him (with only calls as our weapon). We worked this bull hard, getting closer and bugling, it sounded like a war zone and out of nowhere this small 3x3 pops out into the perfect bow range and stands there looking for this bull. We froze, I can remember being in a half squat and holding it for about 5 minutes inching myself to my knees with this bull standing less than 30 yards away looking around. I got down on my knees finally and out popped another small bull, we thought we were in for the show of a lifetime! They two stood there staring each other down and barked back and forth. I don't know who was more excited, the pack mule or the veteran. After some time they both decided to leave but the bull we were after was less than 200 yards away and it was getting dark. We made the brave move to head back to the truck and wait yet another day until we could hunt.
That memory alone being along the side of Mr. Great White himself will never fade or blur but it becomes more clear every day that passes by. That day was a lesson for me, it was a lesson of patience, composure, relationships and adrenaline and most importantly a bond that the two of us haven't experienced for a long time, too long if you ask me.
To close this hunt off, the next day on our scouting trip we ended up calling in a different bull to touching distance and watched him KO a spruce tree 20 yards away and on the second last day of this 4 day hunt we ended up getting our bull. It wasn't the biggest elk out there but it was the biggest memory saved on my internal memory card.
I want to close this off by saying this, Dad without you introducing me into the outdoors I wouldn't be where I am today and even though I had to teach myself a lot of techniques but you taught me the importance of hunting, the heritage and the way of life and that is something that only a father or mentor can teach and for that I thank-you. You always said that you want to be able to hunt and fish with your boys, and you are and will for the rest of our lives!
One last thing, that drives me to succeed, write and try to teach others, when I was again a young boy on a family camping trip I was fishing by myself from shore and caught a decent sized pike. Now, I wasn't exactly old enough to go out on my own but I did and my Gramma Marge came over to me and said " Brandon, you are going to be a great fisherman when you grow up, you know so much and love every minute of it"; well Grandma I am getting there and without all the support and introduction at an early age I wouldn't even be writing this. I love you guys. God Bless!