I sit here in a rare moment of calm and isolation, grinning from ear to ear, at ultimate peace. My tired feet are propped up against a very special table created from the massive stump like hooves and Kevlar-like hide of a magnificent African rhino I accepted many years ago as the spiritual gift it is. A crackling fire before me brings forth a joyous tsunami of glowing memories and stimulating visions of 58 glorious years of American Dream adventure. The heat feels extra warm since returning indoors from a freezing cold sunrise romp with my three Labrador retrievers, their smiling faces matching my own thru the shiny glaze of the sun drenched sliding doors. The ultimate aura of this special morning is optimized by the tangible presence here of all my sleeping family under this roof. My saintly wife Shemane, sons Toby and Rocco, daughters Starr and Sasha, as well as my beloved grandkids aslumber throughout our home makes a man feel complete and good. Everyone is safe, warm, happy, healthy and together. Ahhhhhh…..how good it is.
This silent time would be dearly appreciated, I am sure, no matter what. But when it comes during the family celebration of Christmas, certainly a more powerful presence is afoot. Coupled with the fact that I have hunted harder and more intensely this 57th season of my life than ever before, my tired, weary old bones desperately need and crave a rare, well deserved morning on a couch instead of in a treestand or boxblind. Enough, already! Or is it?
Quite honestly, as deeply fulfilling as this sleepy morning is, I must admit that I felt a bit weird as the sun peeked over the eastern horizon. I was having a grand old time with my dogs, but my mind raced with thoughts of just what could be occurring at this or that hunting spot. I belong on the hunt, there is no doubt.
The bloody jeans and dirty, dungy Mossy Oak hunting clothes I just tossed into the washing machine earlier were the source of good thoughts too. My daughter Starr and grand-daughter Riley live up in the Detroit neck of the woods, and don’t get to join papa Ted on many hunts. But last night, we snuggled in a big elevated Shadow Hunter deerblind together, overlooking a magnificent Texas landscape of ash juniper, mesquite, live oak, post oak, pecan, greenbriar and prickly pear cactus, and we had a wonderful time. Dozens of stunning whitetail deer were seen and videotaped, along with some beautiful spotted axis deer and blackbuck antelope. Nine year old Riley was spellbound by the creatures’ beauty and grace, and she silently watched in awe. When I wrapped up the wonderful day with a long range .243 shot on a fat, mature axis doe, her eyes glowed with fascination and interest in the explanation of renewability, cause and effect, consumerism and reverence through honest utility. My grand daughter is now a graduated conservationist and can’t wait to pull the trigger herself. It is imminent, I do believe.
Riley and six year old Jack spent most of the day at the 3D range, mesmerized by the mystical flight of the arrow. Archery is without question the cure for what ails the youth of America, I assure you. Everytime they snapped an arrow onto the bowstring, and painstakingly drew back for the shot, you could see it in their young eyes. They love it! All kids love it. I for one will continue to promote the amazing National Archery in Schools Programs across the country to bring discipline, focus and quality fun into the lives of America’s youth. There may be no better crusade in this current war against our culture.
Though this may appear to be a nice story about the Nugent family at Christmas time, I know my editors will not hesitate to publish it when they get it, for it is more potently a reminder of good, quality of life priorities throughout the year. I adamantly restated at the dinner table again last night how I expect my whole family to join me each 4th of July week at our Northern Michigan cabin every year for the rest of my life. It doesn’t have to be holiday timed, but it is a good focal point for yearly, ritualistic family gatherings of the heart. I personally love the Christmas Holy Days because they fall during the Texas rut, or at least close enough. My whole clan loves to hunt together, and the immense joys we celebrate each season are immeasurable as long as we are together.
It gets more and more difficult each year to coordinate such gatherings, but as the leader of our household, I put as much gentle pressure on everyone as I can without getting too pushy. When we can include shooting and hunting and all the fun of the great outdoors, our time together is that much more intense. The love is palpable, the laughter contagious, the smiles joyful and wonderful, the memories soul cleansing and fortifying.
As we carve up the sacred backstraps for today’s grill party, the Nugent family owes much to the Spirit of the Wild, our grand American hunting traditions of hands-on conservation and the uniquely American freedoms so “we the people” can celebrate our God given, Constitutionally guaranteed rights to own guns and land, and manage our precious renewable resources for logical, self-evident truth utility. Amen and pass the garlic and butter baby! Now that’s Thanksgiving everyday as far as I’m concerned. Every day is a Holy Day. Do not let it dissipate.
The house is coming alive now. Dogs and cats are getting restless. The coffee smells real good, kids are getting up, Nugents are about to seize the day yet again. The house will fill with hugging, talk and laughter now. We will clean guns, gather sporting goods and head back into the wild again for more amazing outdoor time together. Deer will die, protein will be carved, and pure, fun partying will ensue. It’s so beautiful I can hardly stand it. But I’m sure I will persevere.