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Published: Sunday, 6/19/2005

Young gun owes it all to his dad's love of outdoors

Bill Reynolds of Elmore has everything an outdoors-minded dad - no, make that any dad - needs on Father's day:

A grateful teenage son who looks up to him as his best friend.

"My name is Brad Reynolds," began a recent e-mail. "I am 13 years old. My dad's name is Bill Reynolds. He is 62 years old."

The names seemed familiar, and sure enough, a search of columns from the last couple of years turned up short items about successful deer hunting and wild turkey hunting trips that father and son have made together in southeast Ohio.

But those snapshots of days afield just describe the bare bones, the skeletons of experience and a father-son relationship. Such tales usually are results oriented - how big the buck, the longbeard, whatever. The young man, however, wanted to relate the rest of the story, put some flesh on it, no apologies to veteran radio commentator Paul Harvey.

"I wanted to tell you about my dad," wrote Brad. "My dad has many health problems [asthma] and doesn't always feel good. In spite of this he has always taken time to teach me about hunting, animals, and the outdoors.

"When I was 9 he sat through hunter safety courses with me so I could learn how to be a safe hunter. Since then he has taken me on numerous hunting trips.

"He always lets me have the first shot at game we see. Sometimes we sit for hours just being quiet together in the woods. We watch the squirrels play and just listen to the sounds of the woods.

"When my dad can't physically do the walking necessary for some hunting trips, he has found other guys willing to take me with them so I don't have the same limitations he does.

"He does a lot of stuff for me. He's nice and everything."

Bill Reynolds of Elmore and his son, Brad, 13, display the two turkey tails and a buck that the teenager was fortunate to bag while hunting and sharing time outdoors with his father. Bill Reynolds of Elmore and his son, Brad, 13, display the two turkey tails and a buck that the teenager was fortunate to bag while hunting and sharing time outdoors with his father.
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Such thoughts are a treasure beyond measure. No number of appearances of your name in the Boone & Crockett big-game book or International Game Fish Association's world fishing records can begin to compare to the records a dad etches in his sons' or daughters' memories.

Brad, who will enter eighth grade at Woodmore Junior High School in the fall, told a little more about his dad in an interview too - starting with how, for being so outdoors-oriented, they do not fish.

"I'm allergic to fish, so I don't fish a lot. I can't eat them or touch them or anything." And here is Dad, a retired boat-repair specialist from the walleye capital of the universe, Port Clinton.

That said, Brad notes: "He has taught me to handle a fish. You slide your hand over its back to keep its fin down so you don't get stuck.

"He has taught me what different birds look like - blue jays, robins, cardinals. And he's taught me what different fish look like: bluegills; largemouth bass - they have a bigger mouth than smallmouth bass- and catfish." The latter, the young outdoorsman noted, must be handled carefully because of their sharp spines, which can inflict a painful wound.

Which turns the conversation to the hunt, and they have hunted often and well. The young hunter has an enviable bag to remember already and it's only the dawn of his teen age.

Squirrels were the first game. "I've got a lot of them."

Canada geese? "I got one."

White-tailed deer and eastern wild turkeys in southeast Ohio, however, constitute the cream of the crop.

A year ago April, Brad beat most Ohio wild turkey hunters to the punch, taking not one but two birds before adult hunters even went afield. He and his "best friend," dad Bill, participated in the first statewide, youth-only spring gobbler season, which was held the weekend before the opening of the general season.

The young gun had been turkey hunting for three seasons with his dad, and finally had a close encounter of the terminal kind - terminal for the bird, that is, an 18-pound gobbler with one-inch spurs and 8 -inch beard.

Next day he took a young gobbler, or jake. The fanned tailfeathers, mounted and displayed at home, are lasting mementoes.

Deer hunters would love to have had Brad's record at his age. When he was 11 he took his first whitetail, a six-point buck, with a muzzleloader. Last fall he bagged a doe one weekend with a bow and arrow, then followed up the next weekend with a dandy, heavy-antlered 10-point buck that weighed 180 pounds. Brad's proud mom, Jenny, made sure at the time that he passed along the story.

Brad and Bill hunt private ground in Athens County for deer and turkeys with a friend, Brian Grubbs, and his dad, Charlie.

"They do the [extra] walking," Brad said. "We have lots of fun down there."

Some closing thoughts from Brad's initial e-mail are a perfect way to wish happy Father's Day.

"I want to let my dad know how much this means to me. My dad always makes me feel special and I will always be glad for everything he has taught me and for all the fun we have had together.

"If you can, would you print that in your article for Father's Day?

Sure, Brad. Sure.



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