February/March 2012 EHJ (Issue 129) - Every father secretly wishes that his son will share his passion, but not many fathers have the privilege of seeing it happen. A week after I shot a 121-inch Coues deer in northern Arizona, my father, Dave, and I were attending the SCI show in Reno, Nevada. The family and a close family friend were meeting in the lobby for dinner. As my father approached me, he had one of those something’s wrong looks on his face, and my first thought was, "What did I do wrong?” Then he started to cry and told me he had just received a call from the doctor. He had throat cancer.
I can’t begin to describe the emotions that went through me, but the biggest was, "I just can’t lose my dad.” How do you describe the man you have worshipped all the born days of your life? He’s taught me everything I know and I always felt that if I could be half the man he is, I would be doing well. My godfather, Will Garrison, was there at the time, and he pulled us all together and told us not to give up hope. He had fought cancer two years previously and lived to tell the tale.
For the next year, I watched this man and my angel mother drive the long road down to Phoenix from the Rim Country of Arizona for treatments. I saw him drop from 220 to 160 pounds as he lost his hair, his taste, his energy, and his enthusiasm for life. But after six grueling months, the PET scan came back clean. It killed me every time I left the house to go scouting or guiding, or to go on a hunting trip without him. I wondered if he would ever be able to regain the passion he had for the one thing in life that he had always loved…hunting.
I was really encouraged when my dad put in once again for his dream hunt – mule deer on the Arizona strip. If you’re a trophy hunter, there is no better hunt. For 15 years, I’d watched my dad put in and get turned down.
For a full account of Dave's adventure, go to page 42 in the February/March 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.