Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Trophy by Any Other Name

Dictionary.com defines "trophy" as "anything taken in war, hunting, competition, etc., esp. when preserved as a memento; spoil, prize, or award, a memento of a victory." Makes one wonder about the term "trophy wife", doesn't it?

In the context of hunting or fishing, most people are familiar with the concept of a trophy. It usually is a large animal or fish taken, defined as a trophy because of it's relative rarity. Many species even have defined criteria for a trophy. Some are formal, some informal. A ten pound largemouth bass is generally accepted as a trophy. Again, large size and rarity being paramount in the definition.

For large game, the ubiquitous typical whitetail deer has a defined trophy class by the Boone and Crockett club as a deer whose official measurements exceed 160 points using their rack measuring system. Some hunters classify anything with more than 10 points a trophy. unofficial.

I have some trophies in my man room. I don't have a 10 pound largemouth or a 10 point buck on the wall. But I do have mementos. But my trophies are reminders of things of wonder in my life.

On my gun safe is a mount of a beautiful pintail drake duck. It is a reminder of a hunt my son Justin and I took to the coast of Texas on Matagorda Island over 12 years ago. On that day we took a ferry boat over to the island and hunted the salt flats. We were too late to catch the early morning flight, but I wanted Justin to experience the wonder of hunting ducks in an environment that produced large numbers of waterfowl. It was on this trip that Justin made a beautiful left to right crossing shot on a handsome drake pintail. I whooped and hollered and slapped him on his back in celebration. Those who know me know that I am not given to lots of that kind of thing, but I was ecstatic. The pintail on my gunsafe isn't that same bird...we couldn't afford a taxidermist in those days. It came from another hunt. But it always takes me back to Matagorda when I gaze on it.

On my wall is a mount of turkey tail feathers (called a fan), and a turkey beard. It was the first (and only, so far) wild turkey I have taken. It isn't a particularly large bird, but it was a first, and it provided me with my most exhilarating hunt to date. The other thing that makes it special is my good friend Ronnie called that bird in for me. He literally had birds twenty feet away from us...birds who have vision 4 times that of our own. I was afraid to blink. It was awesome, and I never will forget it. Thanks bro.





There is the pheasant mount over my door that reminds me of the hunt in the Texas panhandle that brought him to me. But more than that it reminds me of the hunting heritage as the grandson of an Iowa farmer, who spent his young years trying to outwit those corn fed birds.


I have other trophies too. I have two photos of my daughter Marissa and I dancing to "Butterfly Kisses" at her high school graduation party. My lovely wife had the pictures framed, and got the lyrics written in calligraphy in another frame. I still get choked up at that one. Marissa is nearing her college graduation now, and has become a fine young woman. But I still remember dancing with her standing on the tops of my feet when she was a little girl.

I have a picture of Justin on his first ever fishing trip, with his little Zebco rod, and and another picture of Marissa and my youngest child Amber on a local lake fishing in my old boat. Happy times recorded for my comfort when miles, time, or temperament separate us.

What about my granddaughter? Oh yeah, she is a trophy. Glad you asked ;-)


I have a few odd trophies as well. I have this thing of bringing home a small stone from the rivers and creeks I fish out of state. My hope is that by taking a stone, it will ensure that I can return again. My daughter Amber got me started on that when we brought home a big chunk of pink granite from a fishing trip we took to Lake LBJ. There was a time when Amber was my best fishing companion...of course that was before Arianna was born. I do miss those days.

I have stones from Blue Creek, Beaver Creek, and the Rio Grande from Colorado. I have one from Hiwassee River Tennessee, and the Owyhee River Washington. Each reminds me of a scene in my memory of these lovely places.

Did I mention my trophy wife?

You should have seen her when we first met....I guess I domesticated her a bit.

Tight Lines...and Ride Free...! ;-)

7 comments:

Steph said...

oh

my

word.

that getup still cracks me up every time i see it. :)

Mark said...

Me too!
I think I have to sleep on the couch tonight ;-)

Pinky said...

Oh, wow. Mark, you are one blessed man. I know you are well aware.

Your lovely wife looks like the Edge (U2) in that picture. Did you dress up as Bono that year?

Hope you have a fluffy pillow tonight!!

Mark said...

Pinky, LOL. No, Bono I am not. That year I dressed as a 40 something outdorsman who stayed home and handed out candy. Original, no?

And fortunately my wife gave me grace to sleep in my bed...

Pinky said...

I have this strange feeling that your wife and I would get along juuuust fine! :0)

I'm dressing up as Rosie the Riveter this year. Of course, nobody will who I'm dressed as, but me, but oh well.

Mark said...

Oh, I think you are right there. She is awesome.
Rosie the Riveter...how cool is that?
I think I would know who you were..Rosie had pink hair, right? ;-)

Sara Lisch said...

That one choked me up a bit, once you got to the trophies you didn't kill to conquer (the family). I'll have to work on my bucket list. The trophy list would look much like yours, with different characters! We are lucky, aren't we?