KEVIN TATE: Seems like we really did it for the stories we could tell

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

Sitting in folding chairs around a freshly-built campfire – the kind of wavering, spark-popping smudge that somehow gets smoke into everybody’s eyes at the same time – it dawned on me we were enjoying the fruits of many years’ outdoor effort, and were doing so with an enjoyment that becomes a shade stronger each time.
The culmination of a hunt arrives when preparation meets opportunity.
One is clearly brought about by the other. In the same stripe, the long-term enjoyment of our tradition is carried on when we share our experiences with our friends.
When good friends get back together to laugh at themselves and with each other, that’s what it’s really all about. For me, that’s definitely become the passion that drives the effort, the one that brings me back to the same camps every fall.
One of my mentors in business once told me, after years in a certain enterprise spent handling the day-to-day demands of what must be done and contending with the human resource challenges along the way,
“I’ve figured out, no matter what people’s particular traits or faults are, in the end, you pretty much do this with the people you want to,” meaning we spend too much time working with people not to work with people we like.
That maxim is not always good for business but, in the hunting world, those are the ties that bind. No matter who’s good or bad at what, no matter a person’s faults or failings, ultimately we do this with the people we want to. In the outdoors, that’s the magic ingredient to the recipe that makes some circles of friends truly outstanding.
If all your club’s about is access to land and critters you’re going to miss something very special, and I don’t mean a turkey or a deer.
Probably the best way to build a good group of friends is to be a good friend. Share a hunting spot and be excited for a fellow member’s success. Skip a morning hunt and spend the day cooking something great for everyone to enjoy. Tolerate the failings of the folks you hunt with and, in return, you’ll find some who’ll tolerate yours. Ultimately, those are the people you’ll wind up doing this with the most.
The path that leads to that stage starts with the first step. It’s why we take our kids into the outdoors, really, so that someday we’ll have sponsored the foundation of another group of old friends who laugh and smile around a smoky campfire, and look forward to more seasons of the same.
Somehow, at that thought, more smoke than normal must have gotten into my eyes.

Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.