Wednesday, May 13, 2015


        I should have done it years sooner. I just kept putting it off. I was too busy. I had family stuff to do. I had work stuff to do. I had church stuff to do. The bottom line was that I was an idiot. My good friend Kirk Deeter maintains that fishing is as much about the people we fish with as it is about anything else. He’s right, of course. And I was an idiot for waiting years to fish with my old friend Spencer.
       I don’t remember when I met him – back in the 1980’s sometime, I expect. I was just beginning to realized that I was getting bored with being a biologist and that I was getting interested in how fish and wildlife agencies work and how we could make them better. He was the big dog of that small group of folks who were convinced that we could use management science borrowed from the business world to make fish and wildlife agencies more effective. He was the reigning herd bull; I was a stupid little spike who bugled too loud, too high and too often. He probably should have put the run on me, but he didn't.
       Instead of running me off, he took me in. He taught me. He shared his wisdom, and not just about our work. I remember the time he told me that I was confusing my job with my life. I didn’t want to hear it, but he was right. He taught me to listen, to reflect and to capture other peoples’ thoughts without worrying about my own. We traveled a lot together in those days. We went to dozens of states to share what we knew. We were even hired by some big shots in DC to go to a small, teardrop shaped country off the southern tip of India to help them do some planning for their national parks. It was a hoot.
         But he never lost track of who he was, and he wasn’t about to let me do that either. He always had both feet planted solidly on the ground. So when he retired, we started a consulting company. We didn’t know very much about running a consulting company, but we figured it out. We worked with state and federal agencies, even some other outfits. We worked on salmon in Alaska, wolves in Utah, prairie dogs in Nebraska and a host of other gigs. We had a blast. We might have even done some good in a place or two. I hope so.
       But eventually, I moved on. The partners went their separate ways. And Spencer went to Casper. He and his wife wanted to be close to their family there. And he wanted to fish the North Platte. We fished it together with some friends not long after he moved there. He made the mistake of letting me row the drift boat. I doubt he’ll make that error again. But as always, he was kind and patient and he took my ineptitude with a laugh. That’s the way he is.
       That’s why I’ve long maintained that if God had given me an older brother, I’d want him to be like Spencer. And why I won’t wait so long for us to fish together again.


No comments:

Post a Comment