They say the outdoors is one of the best places to make a friend.
I found that to be true back in 2006, when I met Nic Taylor while turkey hunting with his stepfather, Al Prante.
It was the first time Nic or myself had hunted turkeys.
I remember our first morning out, Al had stationed Nic and I about 10 yards apart, while he started calling from behind us. Nic and I giggled like school boys hearing a naughty joke when we first heard a tom’s gobble-gobble-gobble in response to Al’s calls.
That tom never came within sight, stopping about 25 yards away at a fence. Nic and I craned our necks this way and that hoping to get a view of the hesitant turkey.
We were equally amazed that a tom would gobble back at our rookie attempts at using slate calls.
At one point, Al and I watched Nic race down one hill and charge up another in pursuit of a gobbler – a pursuit that came up empty. The sweat was still rolling down his face when he came back to our blind, but Nic was all smiles.
We told stories throughout the day and enjoyed our time together in the hills and woods outside Colville.
Those stories and memories will have to last now. I learned today that Nic died Monday night.
I knew he was gravely ill, Al providing me e-mail updates.
That trip almost five years ago was the only chance I had to meet Nic. But he will always be a big reason that trip was so much fun, so memorable, even though we failed to get a shot off. I always appreciated his willingness to share his first turkey trip with me.
Indeed, the outdoors is an amazing place to make friends.
My sympathies go out to Nic’s family and friends.