In the book, “How I Got This Way”, outdoor humor writer Patrick McManus provides insight into life events that formed his sense of humor and perspective. As you read through the book, it makes you realize that when you think about who you are, it is pretty much just a combination of your personality, life experiences and opportunities. In a nutshell, here are some of mine.
My parents raised my sister and me for adventure. Hunting, fishing and trapping were not simply recreational endeavors, they were a way of life. My dad’s continual pursuit of a new dream moved us all over the western United States in search of new and exciting ways to make a living. These adventures created a very close family bond. During that time, my “homes” consisted of everything from float-house logging camps in Southeast Alaska to mid-winter wall tents in the high deserts of Northern Nevada. I alternated between Christian schools, one room school houses and home schooling during the first 14 years of my life. I was able to hunt, fish and trap to my heart’s content.
My dad lost part of his leg in a logging accident when I was 12. I had looked forward to that age for years because that was the year I was going to get to hunt with dad. Instead, dad spent the next decade in and out of hospitals while I learned to become a “do-it-yourself” bowhunter the hard way…which is code for a lot of tag soup and a ton of money spent on arrows!
The year after dad was injured, my parents accepted a caretaking job on an abandoned floating logging camp in a remote area in Southeast Alaska. We were 9 miles by boat and 80 miles of gravel road from the nearest store. We had no electricity, no running water, and no phones. Our groceries were flown into us on a float plane. It was not uncommon to go several weeks to months without seeing another living soul. In hindsight, my mom was crazy for that…she was also crazy tough!
One vivid memory I have from that time was getting firewood for the house. My dad’s foot was basically a giant open wound so my mom had to handle firewood duty with my sister and me. Mom, would load us up in our 18’ boat and tow a small boat behind it 9 miles to shore. Then she would drive us into the woods, fire up the chainsaw and cut firewood for my sister and me to load in the truck. We would drive back to the beach, unload the wood from the truck and into the small boat and tow the firewood back to the floating house we lived in. At the time, it was just another “normal” activity for our family.
I won’t bore you with the details of how many house fires, car wrecks, boat wrecks, and “pet” coyotes and rattlesnakes we had growing up…I’ll just say that it was enough to make my normal a little less normal than most. I’ll also say that it made my taste for wild places and adventure pretty much insatiable.
In hindsight, it’s no surprise that the usual path to starting my own family wasn’t in the cards for me either. I met the love of my life when we were both baby faced teenagers. Fortunately, we enjoyed a four year friendship before we realized that we enjoyed each other’s company so much that we didn’t want to spend any time apart. We were married at the ripe old ages of 18 and 22. In retrospect, we were crazy. Fortunately, we were also both very committed to each other and marriage. We grew up together, raised two amazing boys of our own, struggled to pay the bills and yes…even bickered once in a while. I consider the 21 years of marriage and 18+ years of parenting part of “How I Got This Way” to be the most important piece of who I am today. It is still teaching me about commitment, unconditional love and true partnership.
Like many kids, my earliest “career” consisted of turning my tennis shoes green behind a rusty lawn mower in the summer months. However, I had always wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps. By age 15 I finally pestered a local logging contractor badly enough for a job that he finally gave in and hired me to hand pile brush in logging units, dig fireline and run chainsaw. My noodly teenage arms just about didn’t survive those long summer days! The summer I turned 17, I was offered a seasonal job working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska with a longtime family friend. I spent the next seven summers on a boat in Bristol Bay Alaska making some of the best memories I have of living in wild places with minimal creature comforts.
The combination logger/commercial fisherman filled a need for adventure in my life but my new bride Ruthie and I felt a strong urge to do something for others while we were young. We put out feelers for mission work all over the world. Ironically, a door opened to work with high risk teenagers right in our home state of Idaho. We headed into that experience certain that we would “change the world.” We did not change the world but I think we made a positive impact on some kids that were headed down some very bad paths. Equally important, that experience changed us for the better…both individually and as a family.
After seven years, our time at the youth ranch drew to a close when I accepted a job in the archery industry…a field that I had always truly loved. Thanks to Dan Evans and Trophy Taker, I finally discovered what I want to do when I grow up! During the last 13+ years at Trophy Taker I’ve learned that hunting and outdoor industry people are the finest people in the world to deal with and I don’t want to look anywhere else for the rest of my “career.”
As a result, if you give XENEK a chance, you will find a crazy commitment to customer service, product design, quality control, communication and more. It’s my goal to ensure that your experience with XENEK is not normal…in a good way. And I do know a few things about that!