Any of you that have children have mixed households as the days get a little bit shorter, and the mornings a little bit colder. Summer is drawing close to an end (don’t get me wrong, summer may still throw a couple more 90 degree days in, probably during early archery season :/, ) But for the most part our days of summer are past. If I had my druthers, I would live in a world that didn’t have summer, or spring for that matter. My perfect world is a land of make believe where it is always fall, and if I have to pick a second season it will be winter. (maybe I can book a first class ticket to Narnia via the closet.) My son will be in kindergarten this year and he is as excited as could be. This will be his first year in “real school”, and he has also had a pretty fun summer. We all remember what summer was when we were children. Days were limitless and no matter what we wanted to make of our wasted time, we could make it happen. The beach, the fair and general ridiculousness were all formidable foes, but we conquered them  June 15 to September 2 every year. Now, being a little longer in the tooth, I have grown to dismiss summer all together. Maybe it’s the fact that I work in a beer warehouse, any one who knows about the beer industry knows that summer is where you make all of our money. This is how the cycle goes. People are hot, people want beer, people buy beer, people drink beer… Which means that we are BUSY! Maybe its the fact that because I’m busy, I don’t have the same amount of excitement about the days potential. I know I will go to work at 7 AM and I will go home sometime between 6:30 pm and 10 pm. That doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination as for planning my day. Maybe I just don’t like being hot, like I always say, “if you are too cold you can always put on more clothes, but if its hot, you can only get so naked.” Either way I am glad to have a little bite in the air, and I am glad that fall is almost upon us. Now is the hard part, as more time becomes mine, I have more things that have to get done…. I have to decide what my priorities actually are…
Last weekend I couldn’t write a blog because I needed to do a tune up on my truck and replace a bunch of parts on the wife’s Jeep. You bet I would have rather been fixing my tree stand and putting it up someplace, but I didn’t have the time. I need to go throw a few rounds down range with the old .338 Win. Mag and make sure she is ship shape for elk season, I need to get a hold of some old friends that I have neglected with my busy schedule, I need to do some scouting, some fishing, change the oil on the four wheeler, check my packs, sharpen my knives, get some new bands for my power bugle, walk the dogs, see a sun rise in the woods, and maybe even sleep in one morning. But that just doesn’t fit into my priority list. As we grow older our lives are governed by other things,and the biggest thief of  enjoyment, is TIME. We have a predetermined number of hours in a day, and a list of things to do that is far longer then our reach, so we list them up in a numerical list, thus “prioritizing” our lives. What a crock of crap!

Because you know sure as I do, that the other word that always goes hand in hand with priority is responsibility. In all reality your “responsibilities” are what govern your “priorities”. ” Man I have been wanting to pick up an AR-15 for quite a while now, but having a wife and a family has really put the binders on being able to part with extra money”. Yep, you are being responsible. “I saw a great deal on a a Cheytac M200… But I decided to pay off my truck, and my wife’s car, and put a down payment on a house instead” Yeah that is owning up to your priorities. Either way it sure isn’t as fun as spending your whole life savings (all $4.91 of it) on pop rocks and jolt cola. No wonder kids don’t want to go back to school, each summer you survive brings you that much closer to “No I can wear that 9 year old pair of shoes, that the soles are falling off of, we need to save the money and get a new bed spread”… We all live it to an extent. Do you know why some older folks wear $19 Velcro shoes, and 20 year old kids wear $200 Jordans?  Its super simple, people that have a little more life under there belt like the shoes, they are comfortable, and they are reasonably priced. They wear them because they like them, not because you do. Kids wear Jordan’s because they like you to like them. Its a status symbol. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent a fair amount of money on boots (and any one who knows anything about good boots knows that a good pair of boots will out last most foreign cars, and a fair amount of marriages) but I buy them for one reason, because I invest in what works. $250 for a pair of boots that will last 10 years. That’s $25 a year. I have a pair of Georgia lace to toe mid boots that I have had since I was in 7th grade that cost my parents like $70,  over 20 years of service and they still fit. $3.50 a year? You bet. It’s hard for me to part with my money, because I know all that has to go in to making it, and I know what I am willing to do without so that my love ones can have more.

That being said,  you have to make yourself a priority sometimes too, and show your kin those lessons also. And you can kill 2 birds with one stone while your at it. If you (like myself) make your family your number one “priority”, it is your “responsibility” to show them what hard work will do for them. I know its hard to spend money, but teach them about the investment. If you want to be able to fish, teach your family and friends to do the same, and as strange as it may sound, (especially coming from me) spend a little money. My son fell in love with fishing using a 2’6″ “dock demon” fishing pole that cost me around $10 at wally world, he out grew it in a year and we moved him to a 4’6″ cheap combo. It broke after 2 trips. I was going to buy him another cheap combo, and it dawned on me. I have a backup rod and reel that I spent a fair amount of money on (given all components were either closeouts or on sale but it was still about $80 ) Now it’s his. He understands that I had to work hard and save to purchase it, and it will last a life time if its treated right. In so he treats it not as a toy, but as a tool to let him enjoy fishing. When I buy a pair of boots, the little man will inspect the stitching and the soles, and he sees what makes them worth that hard earned money. When I use to want something expensive as a child my Mom would look at me and say “do you know how long I have to stand on my feet so that you can have that? Do you still want it?” It hit me hard and I still take it to heart. Now my Son hears the same story. We both use that lesson to understand responsibility and priorities.

As the cooler days come upon us, remember to place your loved ones, and the things that you care about, high on your priority list. Burn a Sunday fishing with the fam, or just taking a ride through the woods, hang your stand, or burn $40 worth of ammo proving what you already knew. Make it an event to remember. No matter what has to be done, it is never as important as the time that you will spend, and the memories that you will make.

-Grant Willoughby 8/28/2016-


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