Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Passing of a friend

My friend Mike Phillips passed away Sept. 11.

It was expected and actually welcomed. Tough to see him in that feeble condition for the past 3 months.

I care to remember him as the relentless deer hunter that he was. Often, on nasty days, when I would be staring at the bent trees from the window while drinking coffee or curled under the comforter, I would get a call and hear, "Whadcha see?"

"Huh? You're kidding me, right? You didn't go out in this weather, did you?" would usually be my response.

He would then chastise me and say something to the effect, "The big boys (bucks) don't take a day off, now do they?"

Wouldn't make a difference though. I just can't see the point of being in the stand during an all-day downpour. Miserable. And if I do see a deer, I'm not on it until it's too late.

Mike always seemed to make it a test of His will to be under the sheets of rain in his latest Gore-tex suit he got from Cabela's or some other catalog.

The day after his death, Tuesday, Sept. 12, I wanted to do some kind of hunt to reflect on our friendship, even if the only season in right now in Michigan is goose. (Mike wasn't much of a waterfowler.) But it was raining. I stayed in bed. Typical.

To my defense, I did get home from work late and probably would have stared at empty skies with only a couple of hours sleep. Just didn't have enough motivation.

So far, I've been on two goose hunts at my spot on public land and have only heard a lone honker off in the distance. That's been the extent of my action. I realize I need a better spot, or just a few more options. And I'm going to keep an eye out for them.

Where my motivation truly lies is in some of the last conversations I had with Mike. He told me when I visited him in his Butler, Pa., hospital room, in July that "it's going to be a good year for bucks. I just have a feeling." He also told me that this would be the year I would score on a nice one.

I hope I can do him justice.

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