I was told once – actually more than once — “When you reach 60 there are three things you never pass up …” I won’t get into what the three are, but they mostly had to do with biological functions.

In the past two years since I was diagnosed with a terminal disease, I have learned there are many things in life we often take for granted. I also better realize there are wonderful opportunities that present themselves each and every day and that we all need to slow down, take notice and give thanks.

There are many more than three things none of us should pass up at any age.

If I sound like I’m preaching or dwelling on the negative — I’m not.

I’ve learned that no matter how bad things may seem on a given day, there is always someone you know who has even more troubles.

I’ve learned that even on the coldest, wettest, nastiest day you can find something positive to be thankful about.

In spite of the negative news we see and hear in the media each and every day, I’ve learned the world is filled with truly wonderful people who care, and are willing to help.

I’ve learned that family comes first, and you never depart without telling those close to you how much you care. There are no dividends from staying mad or upset with someone.

I’ve learned that good friends are not hard to find, and there are many more in your life than you might have ever realized.

I’ve learned that the heart beat of a community beats strong even in difficult times.

None of us really knows what tomorrow will bring, or even if there will be a tomorrow. That’s why we must make the most of today.

Depending on your faith, you also realize there is nothing to fear about tomorrow.

I found a saying recently (author unknown) that goes like this: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift — that’s why it is called the present.”

I often think that being an outdoors person gives me a special advantage to enjoying life, nature and all that surrounds us. Men, women and children who enjoy the benefits of our natural wonders through pursuits such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, bird watching, biking and other outdoor activities seem to — more often than not — take the time to slow down, enjoy and notice more of life’s little pleasures. And they are usually sharing those pleasures with others.

Now, before I offend anyone, that’s not to say couch potatoes, theatergoers and art lovers don’t enjoy life, love and family. That said, I would also venture a guess that even those who don’t consider themselves lovers of the great outdoors can look back at a moment or moments in their lives when they were filled with wonder and excitement because of a natural event.

It may have been a memorable sunrise; the fury of an ocean storm; or looking out the window of your warm home as a wintry blizzard swirled and howled, covering the landscape in a blanket of white.


As I write this article, a flock of turkeys is slowly working its way across the hill behind the house; pecking and scratching as they look for food. I enjoy watching these and other birds and animals year round, in spite of the fact that I hunt; a contradiction some find difficult to understand.

There is so much to observe and enjoy while sitting in a turkey or deer blind well before the sun makes its first appearance of the day. The forest sounds that are only heard during hours of darkness begin to fade, as sounds of an awakening world begin, softly at first, then building in volume as more wildlife begins to move about, starting their daily routines.

You often catch glimpses of the last movements of the nocturnal animals as they scurry back to the protection of their daytime haunts, at the same time others carefully appear out of the shadows as their day begins.

Excitement mounts when a big tom turkey approaches within shooting distance of your blind, or when you hear the distinctive crunch of frosty, dry leaves as a majestic whitetail buck slowly approaches on a cold, crisp November morning.

Every trip onto our waters fishing, or in our woods on a hike or a hunt, brings a new set of memories. Sharing those memories with friends and family is important. Important to you and important to them.

I watched this past weekend as two of my grandchildren — ages 3 and 5 — climbed the hill behind the house walking into the tangle of beach and oak trees, moving farther away from the house. Even as they went off on this adventure all alone, they were under the watchful eye of both grandparents and great-grandparents.

My grandchildren may or may not ever become hunters. But I can guarantee that this little adventure into the woods, all alone, will be remembered by them and those who watched them. Like I said — there is something to be thankful for each and every day.

Get out and enjoy the outdoors when you can, and if you are unable to go alone find someone to come along for company and to help.

If you have a friend you haven’t talked with in a while, give him or her a call. Is there someone out there you care about? When was the last time you told them just how much you think about them?

Other thoughts I want to share are: everyone should have a “bucket list;” never put off doing something important, no matter how big or small; and never go to bed at night angry.

Spring is here and new life will soon be sprouting all around us. Fishing season has opened, turkey season is just over a month away, summer picnics are being planned and before you know it, fall will arrive leading us to another winter.

Make plans now to get out and enjoy the coming seasons with friends and family, and get a head start on your bucket list.

Let me end with this — again author unknown: “Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance.”

Thanks for allowing me to share these thoughts with you. I promise I’ll turn Red Neck again next column and start talking about fishing and hunting!

Enjoy your week in the great outdoors.