Sharing outdoor activities strengthens bonds with family and friends

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The older you get, the more often you make significant accomplishments.

First, life is far too short. And unpredictable. We need to count our blessings each day and make the most of each.

This is why it is so important to spend the quality time you can with your loved ones while you are still able to enjoy and appreciate the experience.

The most recent reminder of these truths came during a recent hunting trip in northern Maine.

There is perhaps no better way to improve relationships, in this case between my oldest son William and I, than to pursue outdoor adventures.

There is certainly an intrinsic pressure there. In May, I took on the immense responsibility of replacing best friend, hunting and fishing buddy and longtime BDN Outdoors columnist and editor John Holyoke.

In this role, I’m expected to know things about hunting, fishing and the outdoors in Maine. There is an unspoken expectation that I should be able to follow a large woodland buck, fly salmon salmon fishing at East Outlet, and have an encyclopedic knowledge of dry flies and guns – among a myriad of ‘other topics.

Of course, I have a lot to learn. What knowledge I have, I was eager to pass it on to Will, who in recent years has become more involved in fishing and hunting. Fortunately, he is an avid reader who takes the time to research these topics, so get some good information from him as well.

Our travels last week took us to Jackman (thanks for the hospitality, Emily Anderson), where hundreds of moose hunters and lots of grouse gunners have deployed across the vast desert.

This view of an area southeast of Jackman taken on a recent hunting trip shows the contrast between fall foliage, bare trees and a replanted tree harvest area. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

The principle was simple. We would search and call for cuts, hike forest trails and roam the roads to help our friends locate a moose – and maybe get a few partridges along the way.

We did our Sunday reconnaissance trip and our Monday walk with John. We shared many stories, many of which Will no doubt heard a bunch of times, and we tried the old college.

We haven’t seen a squat. But we had a great time.

John’s departure on Monday night, after 1 1/2 days and 200 miles of driving, left Will and I to share the rest of the trip together.

Despite our seemingly marginal scouting skills, it was awesome. For two more days we drove. We searched. We walked. We talked.

Sometimes for long periods of time we didn’t say anything at all. Well, Will didn’t. He’s not as talkative as his old man.

We just marveled at the beautiful fall foliage, rolling hills and vast expanses of harvested timber and choked out a lot of road dust.

We scanned the side of the road and the countryside, but never saw a moose.

Will spotted a barred owl perched in a tree one evening, but that was about it. It really didn’t matter.

Along the way, I realized how special it was to share the experience with him.

William Warner, the son of Bangor Daily News Outdoors editor-in-chief Pete Warner, examines the scenery on a recent hunting trip to the Jackman area. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

It reminded me of the countless hours I spent trolling for salmon on Sebago Lake with my dad. I gleaned a lot of knowledge from him on our travels, which often included a transistor radio tuned to a Red Sox game.

Looking back, I know his stories of previous trips to the lake were his subtle way of helping foster a bond between us and our family fishing heritage.

The two of us never went out hunting, which in retrospect I know we wish we had done together. But this is a long lost opportunity.

In the future, I will focus on going out and the outdoors again, hopefully with a family member or good friend.

The fresh air, the beautiful scenery, the peaceful silence and the occasional adrenaline rush that comes with hunting and fishing are best shared. These are experiences that improve our relationships and our lives.


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