The greenskeeper

About the time that I was born, my father traded his deer hunting rifle for a set of used golf clubs. So I never knew my father the hunter, only my father the golfer. He was obsessed by the game; there was no telling when he would pop up from his easy chair and announce, “think I’ll go play 9 holes.”  He took me with him on the longer outings, trying unsuccessfully to interest me in golf. It just never made sense to me; there seemed no point to it, whacking a ball from place to place. I have missed quite a few shots at ducks, some easy ones, but I have never hurled my shotgun in the pond. That was the other thing I found unappealing; I can’t count how many golf clubs I’ve seen flung into the water or the weeds out of frustration.

I know my not getting into the game was deeply disappointing to my father, though he never said a word about it. But it wasn’t a betrayal of our heritage, like when you hear someone is fourth generation Navy or something like that. We didn’t come from a long line of golfers. We did however, come from a long line of hunters, so certainly one of us had broken from tradition.

A family friend and two of my father's aunts prepare to skin a deer in 1920.

A family friend and two of my father’s aunts prepare to skin a deer in 1920.

Photo courtesy of the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum archives.

So I remained his caddy for many years, but never a golfing partner. I enjoyed caddying. Carrying that big bag of “tools,” advising on which club to use and giving pep talks when he fell behind in local tournaments. Most of the courses he played were flat and unremarkable, but some were hilly and lush, edged by woodlands, in places like Santa Cruz. I used to marvel at the grass, every blade in all those acres of fairways cut to within millimeters of the same height. And the emerald ovals at the end of every one – the “green” – ah, like a carpet, like the felt on a billiard table. Perfection. I used to imagine greenskeepers out there in the evenings after the course had closed, cheek pressed against the grass, checking for imperfections in the level and scissoring out any they found.

My father passed away before I started hunting, so I have no idea what he would’ve thought of MY obsession. I too have been known to suddenly announce things, such as “think I’ll go hunt some ducks,” or “that’s it, I’m booking a deer hunt!” I often took my kids hunting with me when they were growing up and Griff, my youngest, would carry a big bag and counsel me on the game as I had with my father. But it was filled with decoys and we were playing the geese. I appreciate that my father wanted me with him in his sport, but I like to think that hunting together is the better adventure for fathers and sons, or even fathers and daughters as some of my friends have experienced.

I can justify my passion in so many ways, especially versus golf, from the spiritual to the practical (you can’t actually eat a birdie). I come back from every hunt changed in some way, great or small. The successes and the failures in the field are so rich and complex, you can ponder them for years. Every outing nourishes the soul, amazes your eyes. And sometimes, there are greens to admire.

Mike's expanse of new clover in Iowa

Mike’s expanse of new clover in Iowa

Like the ones in photos my hunting partner Mike sent me this week. I thought of those long golf course fairways I used to walk and putting greens I used to admire when I gazed upon his newly emerging food plots.

Mike the greenskeeper, on his Iowa property.

Mike the greenskeeper, on his Iowa property.

His hours and hours of preparation were paying off, most especially in lush clover fields planted with Frigid Forage. Our treestands – all 11 of them – are already hung along the edges of these green fairways, and Iowa whitetails, does and young 8 points so far, are already showing that if you build it, they will come just like in Field of Dreams. When the rut begins, more and bigger bucks are sure to come.

I know when I’m in one of those stands this November, bow hanging from a hook, I will marvel at Mike’s newly minted green thumb (these are his first attempts at planting food plots, having just moved back to Iowa permanently), and in my mind will hear the mutter of his ATV towing disks and making furrows, spreading seeds and taking all the necessary steps to grow and nurture the fall food source of our prey. Because I know those fields, like the fairways at Pasatiempo and DeLaveaga golf courses, didn’t make themselves.

Frigid Forage, what Mike used in his clover food plots

Frigid Forage, what Mike used in his clover food plots.

I also hope at some point to be standing in one of those fields, examining an arrow and finding signs of a good, lethal shot, until crimson traces on those greens catch my eye and lead me to what I’ve dreamed about all year. And once again renew that deep bond with the generations of hunters that came before me, and my father.

~ by zenhunter on August 20, 2014.

One Response to “The greenskeeper”

  1. […] “https://zenhunting.com/2014/08/20/the-greenskeeper/” This entry was tagged greenskeeper. Bookmark the […]

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