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Blake Warren – ON THE HOOK

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Back to the vets

Grandpa Strength
Apparently “old guys” DO in fact rule. Or at least it sure seems that way if you happened to have spent a considerable amount of time in the Western Outdoor News editorial room these last few weeks. From this vantage point, the elder generation has been on quite the roll lately when it comes to our little corner of the outdoors world. Lifelong experience, patience and determination have all been on prominent display as of late.

It all started in the days before Christmas when WON headquarters received an epic hunting photo of a father and son kneeling proudly over a beautiful 4x4 mule deer amid a sweeping backdrop of vast, snow-dusted mountains. It was too great to pass on, and so it became our cover shot for WON’s Christmas issue (12/27) — arguably one of our better covers of the year right at the closing bell of 2019.

A WAIT WELL REWARDED — Thirty-four years is a long time to wait for a second shot at the productive and spectacular G3 mule deer zone, but when finally given the chance, Bryan Davis and his father Glenn Davis cashed in, each shooting a worthy buck. PHOTO COURTESY BRYAN DAVIS

The father and son were Glenn and Bryan Davis, 30 years apart at 80 and 50 years of age, respectively. Boy, their story was an absolute dandy. Returning to the scene of a memory-burning hunt just outside of Olancha on the southern portion of Hwy 395 some 34 years after the first — the G3 Zone (formerly the X10 Zone three and a half decades ago), where just 25 mule deer tags are dished out each year, both back then and still today. After the long wait, their number was called and they were back, with dad Glenn smoking a great-looking 4x4 buck right off the bat the first morning of the hunt. Five days later, after covering tons of ground looking for just the right mulie, Bryan followed in his father’s footsteps and takes down his own beautiful 4x4. “Reached up and touched him on the neck.” Words of Glenn’s father and Bryan’s grandfather that unequivocally rang through both hunters’ minds at the conclusion of the fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

Fast forward just a week and a half and it’s another killer photo that found its way to the WON newsroom. Unlike for the professional football team in Los Angeles, it certainly wasn’t a disappointing ram season for 78-year-old Owen Brown — his great photo with a fine, mature bighorn at the culmination of a hunt of a lifetime in the Marble Mountains in the Mojave National Preserve. A single shot with a .30-06 downed the 10-year-old ram, which scored a 1643/8 on the Boone and Crocket scale. Brown too had incredible luck on his side like the Davis duo, pulling one of the mere 26 tags for bighorn sheep in the entire state amid a field of over 10,000 applicants. Brown and his bighorn also found their way onto the cover of WON (1/10 issue) — score another one for the old guys!

To round out the trifecta, just this week another tale of hunting success was delivered by carrier pigeon to the office. Yet another mature bighorn. This one too after another long, hope-threatening wait, three decades in the making. The fortunate elder statesman in this case was 82-year-old Harry Cowan, who despite being physically limited along with his ability to speak due to a prior stroke, managed on the fifth day of the huge effort to get an accurate shot off from his half-century old rifle he built with his father in the ’60s, and with a big assist from family and friends to cap the hunt of a lifetime in bagging a 13-year-old ram at a new hunt unit outside of Barstow (see the full story in this issue of WON on page 14) — talk about determination and perseverance? Man... Have a taste of this stuff, millennials.

Woven with fine thread through these three epic hunt stories in recent weeks were also an abundance of photos and reports of other “grandpa-aged” fishermen absolutely killing it in all directions, especially on the long range scene, decking cow after cow yellowfin tuna with confidence, pride and legitimate joy. Plenty others featured the elder generation holding fistfuls of rockcod with big grins to close out the year, with a few others finding their solid limit of wintertime largemouth on their local (or not so local) lakes.

As someone who sees and reads more than his fair share of fishing and hunting stories throughout the year, the three above couldn’t help but stand out beyond the pale, especially so in arriving in such rapid succession. It was, and is, deeply impressive on a multitude of levels. And it’s clearly no wonder where so many of us get our passion for the very same pursuits — it’s our Grandpa Strength. We’ve all got it so long as we tap into it. Grandpa Strength is alive and well on full display in these early days of 2020, and something tells me this won’t be the last we see of it to be most certain...

On a more somber and truly heartfelt note, there would be nobody even reading this column right now if it weren’t for the man who gave me the opportunity to become a part of the storied Western Outdoor News family and play a small part in continuing the long-standing legacy he and his father Burt before him have done a tremendous job in laying down, which has now incredibly stretched into 2020 from the early days of 1954 — a legacy that’s legitimately astounding within the constraints of reality in this modern era of instant gratification and non-stick attention spans when you get down to brass tacks.

As incredibly fair and as genuine of a man as it gets, with a profound impact on the life­style and outdoor pursuits we all passionately love. Bob, you will be deeply missed and never forgotten. You’ve been the man behind the curtain all along since the early ’90s. You and your family’s legacy, most definitely including your father’s before you, who you’ve honored incredibly and carried out successfully, is alive and well. My sincere congratulations on a life very well lived, and thank you for letting me be a tiny part of it all...

RIP, BOB TWILEGAR (1954-2019)

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