Case: Dads often blaze the trail for a love of the outdoors

AP photo by Keith Srakocic / Dominick Cerminaro, left, walks ahead of his sons Paul, center left, and Santo, center right, and his father Santo as they enter the woods to go deer hunting in November 2018 in Zelienople, Pa.
AP photo by Keith Srakocic / Dominick Cerminaro, left, walks ahead of his sons Paul, center left, and Santo, center right, and his father Santo as they enter the woods to go deer hunting in November 2018 in Zelienople, Pa.

Somehow — I don't know how it happened — but I checked the calendar, and it appears we are in the month of June and it is time for Father's Day.

Maybe some of you dads out there are like me, and you really don't think much about this holiday. Some cynics (possibly like me) have suggested it is just another day made up by those in marketing to sell more greeting cards and neckties. I'm not sure about all that, but it is a day for us to stop and reflect on the whole dad situation.

Being a dad myself, I hope you will forgive me if I go on here about what is often the status of the father figure in our society. Most dads (most of the good ones anyway) are often the unsung, unheralded heroes and benefactors in our lives. Dads are famous for telling the worst jokes in the history of the world, knowing more random, seemingly useless facts than anyone else, and producing money out of thin air.

Dad also may be the one person in the world who wants your dreams to come true even more than you do.

Now sometimes I know you think I am rambling on about something, and you say, "What has all this got to do with an outdoors column, and guns, hunting and fishing?"

Well, stay with me here, pilgrim, because it is a lot.

Dads have traditionally been the ones (some moms do this, too) to take you to woods and introduce you to the magical world of the outdoors. For all of you arrow slingers, hunting dog chasers, shotgun shooters and muddy boot trackers, let's remember that for most of you, it was dear ol' Dad who dealt with you when you were a squirmy little puppy.

Dad sacrificed countless trips to the woods and waters so you could go along and be introduced to a world that, in essence, would change your life. Dad dealt with you having cold hands, wet feet and endless questions while making more noise than a wounded hippo. Dad taught you how to shoot a .22 rifle, skin a squirrel, track a deer and cast in the riffles for trout or a smallmouth bass. He endured taking you to deer camp when you were little and getting you back to the truck when you were cold, and he didn't lecture you when you missed a deer or a turkey and you thought it was the end of world.

Outdoors dads are the original unrecognized heroes who show you the way on this trail. They get you started and give you the knowledge to find your way, and then they stand back and watch you fly.

I will never forget the day when my dad set me on this path. I had always hunted with him by my side, but when he thought I was big enough to go it alone and I had my own hunting license, he paused one day in the woods.

"I'll go this way, and you can hunt that way," he said before slipping away through the trees.

I remember standing there watching him disappear into the foliage, and a feeling of pride and anticipation slowly came over me as I realized he thought I was capable and ready to go it alone. Sometimes I think about what he might have thought as he walked away.

Just think about if Dad had not taken the time and spent the money to bring you up in the outdoors. What if he had not given you your first BB gun, .22 rifle, shotgun, fishing rod and hip boots. You might have done it on your own (and there are those who do), but it would have been many, many times more difficult, and you would have missed something that is absolutely priceless: time in the outdoors with your dad.

You would have missed the time he carried you on his shoulders to a steep ridge where you heard your first turkey gobble. You would have missed that day in the deer stand when he could have easily taken the shot, but he patiently waited until you could finally see that buck; it was the biggest deer you had ever seen, and when you walked up on that buck lying there, you thought you might faint with joy. You would have missed all those early morning rides in the truck when, though you didn't know it at the time, you were having some of your best talks with Dad.

Now you would give almost anything for just one more of those talks.

If your dad is still here and you can do it, go see him on Father's Day; if you can't, give him a call. He doesn't care if you buy him another tie, but he would like to talk about the time you both missed turkeys the same day, or how he always seemed to catch the biggest bass.

Maybe he will tell you one of his terrible jokes.

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at

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