Never one to leave a member of the crew behind, hed stayed out looking for his misplaced nephew, and, remarkably, had found me at 4 a.m. in a blinding snowstorm. Couldnt let you drink alone, he said with one of his famous smiles, pulling a small hip flask from his back pocket.
I never remember Black Velvet ever tasting any better.
A week before the regular season opened this year a time of year Ed relished like a kid at Christmas he died of a massive heart attack.
He was sixty-four.
I have a lot of great memories of Ed. Most of them center around my hunting camp in Blue Ridge, a place thats been in my family for more than a hundred years.
He grew up not far from there, and was the most skilled woodsman Ive ever known. Ed was the backbone of our camp, always the first one there and the last to leave.
He taught me that a mountain of fulfillment can be found in the solitude of the forest, and that nothing is as important in life than family.
Ill take a little piece of him with me every time I shut the truck door and head into the woods.
After Eds death, the crew promised his mom that we wouldnt let it break up the camp. Thats the last thing Ed would have wanted, she said.
Weve already had an extraordinary year, having tallied thirty-four points to date, although its been bittersweet with Eds bunk vacant. After my brother opened the season with a six-pointer, he went to visit my grandmother in the nursing home in North Creek.
She smiled broadly on hearing the news. No one was more proud to hear that the boys had bagged one than my gram.
Then, tearing up, she spoke these words of strength: You may have been the one who aimed the gun, but it was Ed who pulled the trigger.
* My grandmother passed away three months later.