Several years ago, a friend of mine asked me whether I’d seen the movie Jeremiah Johnson, with Robert Redford. I hadn’t, and he exclaimed that it was downright un-American not to have seen that movie. I rented it and watched. Oh yes. Loosely based on the life of “Liver Eating Johnson” (look it up – AWESOME) Jeremiah was a greenhorn who decided to be a mountain man. He bought tack, traps, and a “Hawking rifle” and headed up into the mountains. He had a rough start, but along the way he met Bear Claw who showed him some ropes and he turned out to be quite a mountain man. The sense of freedom and self-reliance I got from this movie was AWESOME.
Jeremiah Johnson was made in 1972. It was a time when it became popular to make these “Mountain Man” movies. I didn’t see Jeremiah Johnson when i was a kid. I was born in 1973. I did, however see some of the other pop culture mountain man movies and tv from the era. I remember The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams and Little House on the Prairie among others. Back then, all I wanted to do was be an outdoorsman. I began in Boy Scouts and had many great memories camping and horsing around in the woods. But the turning point was when my parents finally broke down and got me a Daisy Powerline 880 BB gun. I was a menace to just about any bird in the neighborhood. I ‘hunted’ everything from rabbits to prairie dogs. I’d spend HOURS out in the fields around my house. We lived near the edge of a small town, and I could walk out into the country. I’d walk a few miles from my house and spend all day hunting small animals. I of course didn’t have the patience to wait for long, and I probably wasn’t sitting still at all. My success rate was very low, but my enjoyment was high. Not long after, I got my first shotgun. I got 2 guns, actually, both bolt actions. One was a .410 gauge and the other was a .16 gauge. I shot tons of rabbits and birds with those guns, and I still have them today. I refinished the stocks and they look as good as they did new. (Interesting note: My dad and my uncle rode their bikes to Sears and split the purchase of the .16 gauge for $50 back in the 60s. Man what a different time!). I wanted to tan and handle fur but my kills were few between and I never really got the chance.
Over time I began playing sports, then the guitar and got away from my hunting and outdoor loves. Throw in a job where I was on-call 24 x 7 x 365 for about 5 years and I didn’t have time for anything else! Then I met some friends a few years ago who were always going hunting, and they invited me along. I picked up right where I left off and just ran with it.
Fast forward back to me finishing Jeremiah Johnson. I realized that I was going to be a trapper. As is my way I made the decision and I jumped in head first. I enjoy trapping with my sons and (yes, even) my wife.
If you read this, please do what I did, and decide to live your life. The nursing home is too late, and retirement age it’s hard to do some of the things you love. I don’t mean go trapping, but just find something you love and get out and DO IT.
God bless you.