An annual tradition

April 4, 2008

Faith Outdoors

Yesterday, I made my annual trip to the Northwest Sportshow at the Minneapolis Convention Center. For lots of avid hunters and anglers, this is a sacred pilgrimage not to be missed.

My tradition is taking my Dad, who is now 86 and walks with a cane. I remember him taking me when I was a boy and the show was held at the Minneapolis Armory. One of my favorite sights was a lure maker who called himself the “Rat Man.” He had a small pool set up where he would cast and retrieve his lures hour after hour as he tried to entice people to buy them. I did one year when I was older, but I don’t think I ever caught a fish on it.

No matter. It’s the joyful anticipation of the upcoming fishing season — and now, turkey hunting season — that keeps me coming back to the Sportshow every April. Plus, I cherish the time that I can walk the spacious floor of the Convention Center with my Dad. This year, I had to coax him a little bit. He was busy getting his tax return ready and his legs were bothering him.

I told him he needed a break from the tax work and he finally agreed. This is as much persuasion as I’ve ever had to use on him. It has become an unspoken tradition that we both acknowledge and share every year.

I wasn’t sure how the show was going to work into my schedule this year, but I saw an opening yesterday afternoon and called him. When he finally agreed to go, he asked me how soon I was going to come and I told him I’d be over in 20 or 30 minutes. I wanted to spend a couple hours or so at the show and leave before dark.

A few years ago, we stayed until late in the evening and walked back to our cars to discover that his truck had been broken into. The thief should have known better than to break into my Dad’s truck. It was filled with lots of clutter and little of value. My Dad had to drive home with a broken window and that is about the only bad memory in several decades of going to the show.

I hope to make one more trip to the show this weekend. A local hunting and fishing expert named Gary Clancy is giving seminars on Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) on turkey hunting. He has written a book on the subject, which I have. He also has written several books on deer hunting and has written freelance articles for many local and national hunting and fishing publications.

He also writes a weekly column for a local newspaper called Outdoor News. In this week’s edition, there is a lengthy feature story on his life. I read every word and enjoyed it all. I have never met Gary in person and I hope to do so this weekend.

And, of course, get some quality advice that I hope to use in the woods this spring!

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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