by Eric Schmidt on April 14, 2020
In my family, all of the old timers are gone. It's a sad reality for sure, but that's just how it is.
It should go without saying that I am immensely thankful for the times that I spent in the fields with the older generations in my family, where my first deer hunt happened to be my grandfather's last. He could hardly breathe while trudging along in the lower elevations, so the reality of standing at 8000 feet was a real stretch for the man. 9000 about killed him.
It has been told that my grandfather was a helluva good wing shot, but not nearly as good as my great-grandfather, who had mastered the art of shooting doves with a single shot 410. I've always assumed that hard times were behind the choice to use such a gun, but I could be wrong. During more prosperous times, he upgraded to a classic pump gun. It was a Winchester Model 12, choosing to hold firm with the 410. He passed on his wing shooting capabilities to his oldest grandson and I can tell you that whenever my father swung on a bird, it was a thing of beauty. And because he seldom missed, my young Red Ryder self kept busy in finding the downed ones and chasing the cripples too. It was the best of times.
On most of the hunts my father would carry a Model 12 as well. His was a twenty gauge that threw a full choke. He definitely enjoyed out-shooting most of us who were using larger chokes and gauges. And if I happened to out-shoot him, which I did during his later years, he would say that I wasn't being sporting when using the twelve. "That's a bunch of bullshit" he would announce. "Any damn fool can hit a bird with a twelve gauge." That's what he would say.
The seasons I spent in the fields with my father and uncles remain with me. The countless memories are what I hold onto now as I wasn't involved with photography back then. There is no image bank.
So when going through some recent work, this particular photograph made me pause and reflect on how special it is when an older generation is able to go hunting with their child and/or grandchild. My friend's father (pictured) was celebrating his 80th birthday with us in a duck blind. Appropriately, he shot well that morning and wore a big smile on his face while throwing steel at the birds coming into our spread. I distinctly remember thinking what a wonderful feeling it must be to go hunting with your son and grandson at that age.
I suspect he is as passionate about hunting as he was back in the day, repeating stories about the times he spent in the fields of Iowa, the blinds along the Eastern Shore, and going after all of the above in Montana.
We've known each other long enough that I'm starting to hear many of these stories for the third, perhaps fourth time. Truth be told, I enjoy them as much as I did the first time around.
There are some things I no longer take for granted.
©2020 Eric Schmidt. All rights reserved.
The first half of his career was shaped in California before pulling up roots and planting new ones in Bozeman, Montana with his wife and their three children.
He is comfortable being at the helm of a large production and is not above collaborating on assignments that call for a more nimble approach either. His partnership with notable advertising agencies from around the country have earned recognition from Communication Arts and Graphis.
Client list includes assignments for AARP, Allstate, BASF, C.C. Filson, CSX, Cargill, Diners Club, Doubletree, Marvin Windows, Mississippi Tourism, Nikon, Sea Island Resort, World Wildlife Fund, plus numerous pharmaceuticals and wineries. Editorial clients include Aspen Magazine, Big Sky Journal, Entrepreneur, Outside, Rotary International, and Walmart.
When Eric is not traveling for work, he can be found in the fields, mountains and rivers that surround his home.