Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Good Man

     I met my friend Maurice Chambers over 20 years ago.  Our newfound friendship was built on the common bond of our love for the re-curve bow and hunting dogs.  
     Our friendship continues to be characterized as mentor and student.  I will never be able to learn all the ranch, dog, hunting and work knowledge that seeps from this man.  
     Maurice is larger than life; colorful and loves talking to people.  He has never met a stranger and, lucky for me, is eager to teach you what you need to know about life.
     Maurice has a unique and unconventional style of teaching us lesser mortals ---- he assumes you know all he knows.  This sinister technique teaches you two things simultaneously….kinda like a double bitch slap.  Obviously, it teaches you the skill you don’t know (slap #1) and it is the impetus by which you have to sheepishly, and reluctantly, admit what you don’t know, and ask for assistance.  This second slap teaches you humility, a virtue he highly esteems.
     He’s a Renaissance Man of sorts.  He’s as tough as a boot, with a God-fearing, loving and tender heart.  He loves teaching his Sunday School class.  He still owns a Texas high school track record, and in his mid-70’s, he can outrun men more than half his age.  He loves a DQ Peanut Buster Parfait with the delight of a child…. Almost as much as he loves his 2:00 nap and watching Bill O’Reilly; two things I’ve learned never to interrupt. 
      To list all I’ve learned from Maurice would be a painful exercise in admitting how little I actually knew about all things outdoors, before I assumed my apprenticeship under him.  But here’s a few of the high points:
1.     Get your (re-curve) bow out in front and extend your arm prior to pulling the string.  You’ll make more successful shots.
2.     Set up for an eight-yard shot.  Twenty-yard shots are for beginners.  Why handicap yourself?
3.     Always brace a shovel on your knee when lifting dirt from a hole.  This saves your back and allows you to work 2 more hours for Maurice without complaining.
4.     Two-blade broadheads are twice as good as 4-blade broadheads (you do the math!)  (The two blades penetrate better.)
5.     Never, ever, think of hunting in one of Maurice’s own ground blinds without his permission.  (If you doubt this, ask my friend, Kendall).  Maurice will check your boot bottoms to see if it was your track in his blind.
6.     Carbon steel knives are King.  Stainless is for those guys who are shooting 20-yard shots.
7.     Aim low and shoot lower.  (You bow hunters know what I mean).
8.     How to stitch a hog cut and how to treat a Javalina chop.

     I treasure the quality time Maurice and I have spent together:  mountain lion hunts in Balmorhea, Texas; hog hunts from La Pryor to Del Rio with good and bad outcomes.  We’ve been to rodeos and ropings and brandings.  We’ve worked on fence, dug septic tanks, replumbed a beater house in 34-degree weather, and put tin roofs on old Texas farmhouses.  We’ve blood-trailed bad hogs and threw a rock/paper/scissor to see who got to go get him.
     He was an early champion of my art career, and one of my favorite subjects to paint.  He encouraged me to listen to God and trust in Him, following His lead.  Good advice for anyone. 
     Maurice Chambers is a generous and good man.  He was Augustus McCrae before McMurtry ever dreamed him up.  I’m proud to call him my friend.   

Content and images © Mark Kohler Studio.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post, Mark. You write a sensitive and enthusiastic character sketch.