From one who has been in the hospital during the last year almost as much as he has been out of it, I have concluded that it is time to announce my retirement from this precious weekly column I have written since June 1974.
It is no small thing for me to walk away from the column, but my recent illnesses have made things chaotic for everyone-the Sun Staff, Laurie and me, and most certainly for you Sun readers.
So, after some 40 years and 2,300 columns and at age 69 I am stepping aside. The Sun may replace me with a younger man or woman or they may choose not to have a weekly column at all.
A couple weeks ago I spent my second session in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) where I was fairly certain I was going to die from the low-grade "B" cell lymphoma I have been afflicted with the last decade. (The V.A. says I got cancer from Agent Orange when I was in Vietnam in 1970 with the 1st Recon, 1st Marine Division. I'll take their word for it.)
The plan is at this point is for me to work with physical therapists to "gain back strength" and undergo a round of chemotherapy. Of course I have no idea how this will work out. In other words, I could be dead in a month or two or I could live another five or ten years.
I will miss writing about rifles, shotguns, handguns and fishing outfits. I'll miss discussing rifle cartridges and their development. I will miss writing about old times and new, and telling the stories of times gone by. I'll miss writing about dogs...I'll miss it all.
It reminds me of the time back in 1985 when Laurie and I joined Jake and his friend Elmer Stampka at the old Northern Hotel in Billings. Laurie and I were down from Southeast Alaska for three weeks of hunting in Montana. Jake and Elmer were on their way to Wolf Creek north of Helena to hunt muledeer bucks.
Jake and Elmer were about Laurie and my age back then. Jake said to Elmer-"We'll follow the fence line a mile or two and take it easy. All we need is a couple young women to keep us company."
Elmer replied, "Jake I don't need a young woman...what I need is a nurse!"
And so it goes. Thank all of you for reading my column. And as the late John Madson wrote many years ago on the eve of his death-"See you in camp at sundown."