I had to write this article because of the recent loss of a great friend who we never would have even met if it wasn’t for being hunters and the outdoors.
In April, I wrote about the Stony Creek Massacre that happened at Tuttle Creek 25 years ago. That’s the year we met Charlie and began building our friendship with him. Seeing him every year since, we were blessed to be able to hunt and enjoy his property.
Charlie never married, and when he retired, he purchased this house and land. It was his “little piece of heaven.” You could tell how much he loved it, as you would usually find Charlie just walking around enjoying nature.
Over the past 10 years, we could see his health start to go downhill, as he had COPD, a breathing disorder, where it was getting harder and harder for him to breathe. I was fortunate to visit with him at length twice this year. Well, in June, he was told that he wouldn’t be able to stay out there by himself anymore; he would have to move to town where he would get more care. Sad to say, Charlie decided to take drastic action, as he found his favorite spot on his piece of heaven and took his own life. We will miss Charlie, because we loved him, and he was a great friend.
Another sad story I recall was of another outdoorsman I knew. This hunter and fisherman spent a lot of time in the outdoors. I believe he had developed a heart problem and was told by family and doctors that he shouldn’t spend time alone in the outdoors, so he decided to take his own life.
Both of these tragic stories really bother me, because of how desperate they must have felt. I had friends make the comment that, “Well, hopefully they were at peace with this choice.” It’s hard for me to believe that there could be much peace with this action. I pray for them and hope that their souls are at peace.
I’ll end with a story of another outdoorsman who, to me, had a better ending.
Glen was a great outdoorsman who fished all the time. When I was a child, he was my hero, as I could see that spending time in the outdoors was a priority. He fished a lot with many close friends, but one in particular was the local eye doctor. It is my understanding that they had a sign that read, “God made Thursdays for fishing.” I heard that they took many Thursdays off to fish together.
I loved listening to Glen tell his wonderful stories while he puffed on his pipe. No one could tell stories like Glen. He died of cancer. At his funeral, I could see all the fellow outdoorsmen there to honor him. The pall bearers put his casket in his boat and drove him to his final resting place.
I believe all three of these outdoorsmen loved the outdoors more than I can explain. I looked up to all three and hope and pray that they are somehow at peace. All three will be sorely missed.
Rick Cunningham is an avid outdoorsman from Ellis.