Photos. We all have them. Some of mine have earned a place on our refrigerator. Others that have been fortune enough to be printed out are tucked away in an assortment of books and journals. But most of them are lost in a myriad of folders on my mac. Occasionally, I stumbled upon one or two long lost treasures when seeking out a file for work. Today I was blessed with one such occasion.
The photo was of Michael Kurtz, a guy who has been my very best friend since I was 14 years old. We had just wrapped up a very successful hunt by Wisconsin standards, and it was special in the fact that is was the last waterfowl hunt Michael and I would share before he moved out of state to pursue his career as a paramedic. He was a country bumpkin at heart, just like the rest of us, but longed to work in a fast paced station of the big city. I couldn't blame the guy. After all, I had gotten my chance to go off to college and started a dream job in the outdoor industry.
Sitting at my computer, I was taken back to the camaraderie that Michael and I had experienced throughout our middle school, high school and college days. I shot both my first goose and duck with Michael. We ran a guide business together in high school. Michael partied a little too hard one night at the age of 16, and passed out on a lawn right where he told me to pick him up at 3 am for a goose hunt. We went and shot birds that morning. I skipped out on a hunt with Michael for the first time to hang out with a girlfriend. Went hunting with Michael a few years later that lead to me breaking up with a girlfriend. No matter what cards life dealt us, we always found time to get out into the field and chase birds. Those were the glory days of my youth.
Michael has been living out of state for almost three years now. In that time he's worked his way into a very fulfilling position as a paramedic with the City of Indianapolis. Even though 300 miles of pavement now separate us, we still manage to get out on a few hunts each fall. They allow us to act like giddy teenagers in the marsh again.
I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.