Happy Thanksgiving! Wow, where does the time go?
However, Thanksgiving Day has gifted me with a host of outdoor memories.
For me, from the time I was old enough to hunt up until I became too handicapped to hunt, Thanksgiving Day was always a special hunting day.
First it was rabbits, squirrels and pheasants that got my attention on that special day. It wasn’t until I married my Darlin’ Edna that I got hooked on deer and turkey hunting.
Every Thanksgiving hunt carried with it special memories, but there were a few that made it even more special.
As a young teenager growing up in the Village of South Meriden, it was Raven’s Farm — now Casertano’s Greenhouses — and surrounding areas that we would hunt.
Of course, back then, a young teenager carrying a firearm on a street was no cause for alarm. Today, it’s a whole different world!
The farm located on Raven’s Lane, a private road that ends at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club, was once surrounded by pasture land and hay and corn fields. Today, the pastureland has grown into a forest of trees, while the hayfields have given way to sand pits and greenhouses.
I can still remember hunting a nut grove with the Hanlon boys — Neil, Mike, Tom and Paul — and their uncle, Phil Fisher, for squirrels.
It was the start of a lifelong hunting trip, filled with so many outdoor memories that many young people today will never get a chance to experience because our whole world has changed so much.
When I was a kid, opportunities to hunt with adults were many. Today, way too few young people are introduced to our hunting outdoor world. The electronic age has taken them by storm.
Imagine being a 16-year old and hunting with a buddy on the property that was once Raven’s Farm. Me and Jack Sears. We had my dog Chipper, a springer spaniel that loved bird hunting.
We were hunting an old overgrown apple orchard on a corner of the farm when Chipper flushed a couple of pheasants, and Jack and I each downed one.
It was a beautiful fall morning with a heavy frost on the undergrowth and we were both thrilled to have scored on both pheasants.
The old apple trees still had some apples on them and we took a break, picked a couple and ate them, with their frosty sweetness making a perfect day even better.
The outdoors can do that to you.
As teenagers, we also spent a great deal of time prowling the Quinnipiac River for ducks. Back then, the only wild geese we would see were the huge flocks heading south for the winter. The ducks were readily available for us to hunt both on the Quinnipiac River and Broad Brook, on a cove that we named the “Duck Cove.”
Thanksgiving Day always made our hunts extra special.
Of course, back then, things were a bit harder, and it was game food that graced the Roberts table, a couple of times even on Thanksgiving Day. Having provided some of the game meat for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner only made the day better.
As the years went by, things changed and so did I. I became obsessed with hunting whitetailed deer and wild turkey, here and in Maine and New York.
Edna and I had purchased a small home in New York. It sat on a hill overlooking a lake and was located at the end of a gravel road. At the time, it seemed to be the perfect place, and I still remember having a couple of Thanksgivings there that were the kind of days one never forgets.
That fall, I had put a tag on a wild turkey and told Edna we would have it for Thanksgiving. Just imagine: a wild turkey for your dinner from your own land — WOW!
But wait, it gets even better. I hunted that Thanksgiving morning for deer. I had screwed up my application for a doe permit, so the only deer I could take would be an antlered buck.
The morning started out with a mixture of sleet and rain falling on a couple inches of snow that had come down earlier. As luck would have it, I was treated to a parade of does going by my treestand, but no bucks.
I was just about ready to call it a morning when I saw movement coming my way and it was a buck!
He had his nose to the ground as if trailing one of the does that had gone by earlier. He seemed oblivious to anything else around him, including me. He would be my first New York buck on a Thanksgiving morning that I will never forget!
Of course, one of the best memories of Thanksgiving Day was the time spent after the hunt. Coming home to a house filled with the aroma of a roasting turkey, with Edna’s famous stuffing followed by a huge slab of pumpkin pie, and then onto the couch to watch some football.
How could it get any better than that?
I hope that you have some Thanksgiving memories, and if you are a hunter or fisherman, get some kids interested in the great outdoors so they can make some memories of their own.
If you get a chance, talk to Joe Tkacz III about catching some kokanee salmon on West Hill Pond on a fly rod.
Those that go after kokanee usually fish at night and use corn for bait. Tkacz did it with a fly rod from the shoreline. He will give you the details if you ask him.
See ya and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving our great country.