I was thinking about my late wife, Eileen, the other evening and realized that despite all of my friends, I am still lonely.
Not only have I lost a wife, but a cook, friend and my best deer hunting partner of all. That woman sure could chase deer to the old man.
If Eileen went into a patch of woods and there was a big buck in the cover, regardless of how thick it was, the deer was coming out. She was slow in the process, but that was the secret to her success.
She might have come out with some thorns stuck to her clothes too, but she sure did befuddle deer.
When we fished, I didn’t have to baby her. She baited her own hooks, and many times when we were fishing mountain streams, she would go one way and I’d go the other.
In the 1970s and ’80s, she was known along the creeks feeding Lake Erie, and she hooked and landed more than her share of coho and chinook salmon.
When I played a coho, I wouldn’t let anyone but her net it. People lose big fish all the time when they allow an inept person try to net it.
The truth of the matter is I can tell stories about Eileen’s exploits that I wouldn’t dare have told while she was still with us.
One time, we were fishing with my friend, Ed, and decided to try the mouth of Elk Creek. The mouth of this creek would change each time we got there, and on this day, the lake storms created a small island that could be easily reached.
We decided to spend the night there.
It was cold, as only Erie can be, and we collected driftwood and built a fire for Eileen.
I think she thought Ed and I were a bit off for night fishing, but we fished a bit and then huddled by the fire.
I hate to say it, but she got too close to the fire and I smelled something burning. It was the rear of her jeans.
Did she quit fishing the next morning? Of course not.
She tied the sleeves of her jacket around her waist and fished. After all, it was a long drive to Erie and she didn’t want to waste a trip.
Nobody except Ed and I knew what was under the jacket, and Ed being the gentleman that he was, never looked from the time I smelled smoke until the time we got home.
Incidentally, she caught her limit but never bent over when the fish was landed.
I remember another year when we were trying to get a doe for our nephew.
Eileen had a doe license but didn’t like to shoot a deer without a good rack. The two of us drove deer out, but our nephew couldn’t hit them, missing about six times.
We were kind of down, but went to lunch before returning to the task an hour later. As we pulled into a farm, parking beside the barn, I saw three deer standing in a pasture at a good distance.
We got out and made our way to a nearby fence, and I asked my nephew if he wanted to try the shot with his flat-shooting 25-06.
He told me I had to be kidding since he already missed shots from half that distance.
I looked at Eileen, clutching her Ruger 77 .270 and asked if she wanted to try it. She just smiled and made her way to the fence and sat down, holding her hand against the post.
Then, she asked how far I thought it was. I figured it was around 400 yards.
With that, the .270 barked and I told her that I thought she hit it.
She most certainly did, as the deer dropped on the spot as our nephew looked on astonished.
Eileen just kept on smiling and we put her tag on the deer and told our nephew he had his deer meat.
She sure could shoot, though I believe that was the only doe she ever pulled the trigger on. She didn’t mind shooting the buck, but she didn’t like shooting the girls.
I would often drive for her and would chase a buck her way only to have her not shoot because it was too small.
I could never cure her of being too picky.
I sure do miss her.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter..