If what doesn’t kill you truly makes one stronger, and pain is weakness leaving the body, then I truly believe I’m on my way to being SuperMan!
There are numerous colloquialisms like those that apply here: Everyone has their cross to bear. Nobody gets out alive! Into every life some rain must fall. Life isn’t fair.
By Ted Nugent
As a hunter like most of you, we cherish our dogs as much more than just pets. Our hunting dogs are serious canine partners in our joint pursuit of our deepest passions in life. A powerful bond is cultivated and deeply appreciated between us, and alas, their lives are just too damn short.
On December 14th, the day after my 67th birthday celebration, surrounded by good friends and family at the Ox Ranch outside Uvalde, Texas, our 12 year old Labrador Retriever Gonzo struggled past the fireplace and over behind the bar at the lodge, laid down one last time, breathed laboriously, and died in Shemane’s lap.
The old boy had deteriorated badly over the last year. He performed valiantly on pheasant and doves in South Dakota and Nebraska in the fall of 2014, and even managed a few ducks last winter.
He still enjoyed his daily squirrel hunts with me and his buddy Happy, but was mostly blind and deaf and merely joined in on the barking in response to Happy’s treed squirrel cacophony.
I had let the boys out for a predawn pee as I dressed for my morning deerhunt. Happy was all frisky as usual and I helped Gonzo slowly down the steps.
His tail was wagging as always as I rubbed his head and back and gave him his meds and biscuit, and Happy was all aflutter trying desperately to get Gonzo to play.
I let them back into our cabin with Shemane as I headed to my treestand, knowing darn well that the end could come at any time for my old hunting buddy.
The call came on the Ox Ranch radio I carried around 9am. Gonzo was “having issues.”
Shemane was about to leave the lodge for some Spirit of the Wild video interviews with hunters and Ox Ranch employees when she heard Gonzo gasping a little more than usual.
She sat on the floor with her friend and cradled his head in her lap.
Within minutes, Gonzo exhaled his last and Shemane pulled him tight to her bosom, crying like a baby.
I hurried back and joined in on one of life’s terrible moments as Shemane and I let it all out, holding Gonzo tight.
Happy was with us and surely sensed something special was taking place as he sniffed his old hunting buddy, hoping for a response.
Gonzo had eaten a great breakfast earlier that morning, and some of the hunters even gave him his favorite bacon snacks to much tail wagging.
All told, with a treed squirrel barking party the day before, a great last meal with bacon treats and saying good-bye in Shemane’s lap, I quite honestly cannot think of a better way for a hunting dog to go.
I have requested the same deal for my last morning.
The tears just wouldn’t stop as we carried the old warrior to the base of a beautiful, towering live oak tree where we laid him to rest one last time.
A large boulder was placed as a marker, and we have vowed to hang a treestand in that oak for future hunts with our special hunting buddy right there with us.
I remember Duke, Kippy, Paco, Popeye, Pinecone, Lady, Minnie, Shad, Bear, Bruin, Gonzo1, Gonzo2, Gonzo3, Puppy Toddy, Porterhouse, BlackJack, Thunder and Rocky.
It never gets any easier, but we will never deny ourselves the very special joy that our dogs bring us.
Happy and I miss Gonzo a lot each day chasing squirrels, doves, quail, rabbits and ducks. You can actually see it in Happy’s face, wondering where the heck his old buddy Gonzo is.
He was a great dog, a great hunter and a great friend. Life just isn’t fair.
Ted Nugent is an award-winning musician and writer, with numerous best-seller books including “Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto,” “God, Guns and Rock ‘n Roll,” and “Kill It and Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish” with his wife, Shemane, among other books. Be sure to check out his website for more news on his latest music, thoughts and upcoming shows, and also at World News Daily, Newsmax and Daily Caller for more insights.
Stay Safe and Hunt Longer This Season!
Are you familiar with the safety precautions that need to be put in place in order to ensure proper tree stand placement and usage? If the answer is “no,” or you feel like you need to brush up on your tree stand safety skills, then the Tree Stand Safety Resource Kit is for you. Containing three prime resources regarding tree stand safety, this collection will ensure you’re well on your way to avoiding as much danger as possible while installing, climbing or descending from, or using a tree stand. Begin with Treestand Safety and Placement, and learn the proper method for hanging a stand. You’ll also get placement advice for the best hunting.