The wrinkles become more pronounced on his sun darkened face as laughter overtakes him. A face that has seen 92 revolutions around the sun. A face creased from the worries of hard times, but also one that has witnessed love from generations of family.
It’s also a face that lets me know there is hope for the longevity of my obsession.
His story continues, temporarily interrupted from time to time by the roaring laughter of friends and three generations of family that have encircled him.
I catch the gist of the narrative through his body gestures and the little spanish I remember through higher learning and restaurant kitchen classrooms.
We are all back from our morning hunts, me empty handed, the old man with a fine specimen of an 8 point Carmini whitetail. He’s ecstatic, as if he were an early teen with his first buck in his crosshairs.
I’m thrilled, both for him and for the affirmation received while watching him tell his tale. For some time now I have been questioning how long this can last, how long can an obsession burn before blinking out into oblivion. A hot fire burns out quick or so the saying goes.
Here in the deep backcountry of Mexico I find my answer in the face of this old man. Apparently this feeling is a feeling that doesn’t die with time.
The story winds down and I step out of the walled tent to the consistent growl of the desert winds. I pause and look at the panorama in front of me. What I see is three generations of hard work and dedication laid out before me.
Taming this land would be impossible, hell not desirable to tell the truth. But the camp I now stand in shows a family’s vision to integrate themselves into a hostile landscape through sheer willpower and effort alone.
Bumping down switchback after switchback that was hand carved out of the mountains that guard this valley on our approach the day before proved that willpower can move mountains. Willpower, calloused hands and a vision.
I thought I came to Mexico seeking Carmini whitetail deer. Shortly after arriving I knew my subconscious intentions were different. I was here to see how a single purpose can bleed down through three generations of family.
I came here to prove what I was personally seeking in life could and had been obtained by others. I am here for inspiration.
Gustavo the mastermind of this ten thousand acre playground pops out of the tent and clasps me on the shoulder.
“This evening you will kill a big Carmini,” he says to reassure me.
I smile to myself. I have five more days here and the last thing on my mind right now is sinking an arrow into a deer. My goals have shifted. I’m here to learn how something as beautiful as this can happen and how I can translate it and take it home with me to replicate with my family.
“This evening it is,” I reply.
I know it’s a lie and that I don’t want to shoot anything yet, but I play along.
I settle into the stand, the heat from the day still pounding down on the desert floor. I push back into the cedar tree as far as I can to eek out any shade it has to offer. There isn’t much to be had so I accept my punishment for heading in too early.
The image of the old man’s laughing face once again pops up in my head. I can’t shake it for some reason and I know if has more significance to me than what I am currently understanding, I just can’t peel back the layers at this point to know why.
He’s happy because of hunting, I get it. Why is that so important to me at this point in my life?
I sit back and look inward, letting my breathing slow to the pace of the desolate land. Everything here is slow, there seems to be no rush and I let that calm me and relax my thinking.
The creases of the old man’s face come back to me. Moreso the look of admiration from his son and grandson burrow their way into my brain.
“Three generations of shared vision,” I repeat to myself.
Not just shared vision but action. For vision without action is just a pipe dream. Long hours of cutting trail and forming the earth to meet their needs. The foresight of an end goal and the patience required in seeing little progress towards this goal. In the world of instant gratification this is its antithesis.
This is twelve years of three generations working this land to create a family legacy.
With that last thought it all sinks in. Legacy. To create something that will be enjoyed by those you love long after you’re gone.
Legacy. This seeps through my body as my thoughts wander to what my children are doing back home. How are they feeling about the absence of their father? Is my intended purpose of teaching them that you have to give every last ounce of your soul to obtain your dreams getting through or do they see my absence as a slight against them.
You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
I’m here to find out how it’s done. To see how a legacy is formed. How to replicate it in my own world.
I see the headlights of the side by side cruising along the trail, headed to pick me up. Caught up in my own thoughts I almost forget where I’m at.
Oh yea, treestand. Don’t fall out.
Gustavo and his son park beneath the stand as Gustavo calls up to me.
A donkey wearing a sombrero could have been playing the tambourine below the stand and I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue. I was lost in my own head.
Feeling I owed him some type of response I shot back.
“Just a couple of small ones. Tomorrow morning I’ll get one for sure.”
I hop in the back seat of the side by side and we slither our way back down the windy trail towards camp.
I notice the admiration in Carlos’s (Gustavo’s son) eyes as he talks to his dad in the front seat. He points out at different locations along the way about where stand should be placed or maybe a better spot for a trail. Normally it would have passed right by me, but I’m looking for it. Looking for the relationship between this father and son.
There’s admiration in his eyes. One that I know comes from a son being inspired by a father who thinks big and grabs the world by the balls.
I smile to myself. More affirmations. I came to Mexico seaking Carmini whitetail, I’ll go home with a better understanding of legacy.
// Fred Bohm
To find out more about hunting Carmini whitetail in Mexico, check out Aqua del Oso Safaris.