ARTICLE BY DAN CHASON
I am blessed to be in good health. I am blessed to have a great job and a wonderful team of people that I work with every day. I am blessed to be married to my best friend. But my pride and joy are the children of my children. My wife and I are blessed with 8 grandchildren (6 boys and 2 girls). Every one of them having attributes that make them individuals but most of all, each of them have a connection to “Mimi” and “Pop/Papaw” that are unique. What a strange but favorite memory is how I inherited two names. Our oldest granddaughter, who just graduated from high school (with honors and scholarships) was about 2 years old and was just starting to talk. I had been a grandfather for a year or so to my oldest grandson, Elijah. Rylee and I were playing and she was sitting on my lap. I would look at her and say, “Ok, Rylee. What’s my name?” With that jet black curly hair and those gorgeous brown eyes she would watch my mouth as I would say “Pop.” She would repeat, “Papaw.”No, Rylee try again….”Pop.” You see my grandfather was Pop, my dad was Poppie and I wanted to inherit my title from them. Rylee refused. “Papaw.” And to this day, it is Papaw.
Of all of these wonderful, talented kids one of them absolutely is unique in his relationship to me and in his love of the outdoors. When Chance Crow and I started hanging out, I found out very quickly that this young man was a sponge. He hung on my every word and tried to mimic every technique and method I used in both the woods and on the water. What has transformed over the years gives me great pride as I see his relationship with me is identical fashion as the relationship that I shared with my Pop. I never knew I would enjoy the company of a 14-year old as much as I do every time we are together.
It does not matter if we are going to the camp or if we are chasing bass. Chance is a tenacious hunter (when I can keep him awake) and an avid and talented fisherman.
I remember one time when he came to my house and we were in my storage area. He looked at the hanging shirts that were mostly from my days from fishing for a living. When he saw the sponsored shirt with my name on it his eyes lit up. Not only did he go home with that shirt, but on every trip now when I pick him up, he is wearing it with pride. There is a sense of family, lineage and respect that is very uncommon in today’s youth. I will have to say that credit goes to his raising. My daughter Danielle and her husband, Casey, highly encourage all of their boys to interact with their grandparents and it does my heart good to hear the “yes sir’s” and “thank you’s” that are so missing in many young people’s vocabulary.
Chance took his first buck with me. It was a very cold morning and we set up in my favorite stand. It was just one of those mornings. We watched the first deer come into the food plot and it was a good 8-point. Chance never reached for his gun. “Is that a mature one, Pop?” The deer was 3 1/2 and was a prize for any young hunter. “That’s your call, Chance. I’d wait a minute.” Instead of being over anxious or upset, he just smiled and watched the deer in my binoculars. Not long after, another nice buck came out, then another. At one time we had 3 bucks in the plot that most hunters would have shot immediately. Finally, I saw all 3 deer alert and look to the left. I could not see his head but I could see his hocks and body. He was a mature buck. I told Chance to get ready and when the buck stepped out, I could see it was an old deer but the horns were not impressive. Now mind you, this kid is looking at 3 other racked bucks. I told him the big buck was a cull but it was his choice. With a well aimed shot, he dropped the buck at 137 yards. Weighing in at 206 lbs it was one of the heaviest bodied deer we took that year. His choice and one that made his Pop very proud to witness.
The same came true when we went bass fishing. The fish were biting and we were catching some pretty good bass. Chance caught a really nice bass that again, most kids would want to take home and show off. Chance’s response was “let’s let him grow” after a cell picture was captured.
You cannot teach kids a better lesson than conservation. Leaving something for tomorrow and the opportunity to watch a fishery or a property flourish due to management. Too many times we make the trip about what is harvested or how many big fish are in the live well. I can assure you one thing, this young 8th grader is not only a fine young man, he is a gifted angler and hunter. It gives me great pride to see that he gets it. He gets the fact that we are stewards of the land and water. We can make things better for tomorrow and Chance is all in when it comes to that cause. Again, I won’t take full credit for it as the basis of his character is formed at home. Good parents with a good environment have made him into the young man he is today and into the man he will become tomorrow.
I know that my Pop and Poppie would be very proud as I am of the young man I’m proud to see carry on my name and heritage.