Most readers of the outdoor press have read newspapers and magazine articles written by Bob Hood. Bob was a very active outdoors writer for close to half a century. He was one of my best friends and we hunted and fished together often and shared story ideas, pictures and the experiences of spending time together in the outdoors from the brush country of Mexico to the Rocky Mountains.
Bob’s passing was not sudden, we all knew it was coming but that didn’t make loosing a best friend any easier. Every time I head to the woods or out on a fishing trip, I think of my old buddy but not in a sad sort of way, it’s more like he’s still there and in a sense, he is.
Cory Ford is my favorite outdoor scribe and I remember him penning a statement something like, “The past is the only thing that never changes; we can go back and revisit it any time we wish.”
I remember Bob telling me about a vintage sausage grinder that he had in his storage building.
“Luke,” he’d say, “back in the sixties, I was approached by a fellow down on the Texas/Mexico border that needed some money and wanted to sell me an old sausage grinder. Even back then it looked ancient, but we plugged it in and it worked flawlessly. I paid him for it and used it to make sausage on several occasions. I’d like you to have it.”
Well, it seems Bob and I were always too busy working on our stories and hunting and fishing together to take time to dig the grinder out of his storage building. Bob knew I was an avid sausage maker and we talked about me getting all the spices, casings, etc. and he and I making a big batch of summer sausage together. That never got done but Bob’s wife called a few months after his passing and asked if I’d like to have the old meat grinder. She knew I would put it to good use and think of her beloved husband every time sausage making day rolled around.
Tom Coker has the honor of being great friends with Bob for forty years or more; he was one of Bob’s longest and closest friends. Tom recently visited Bob’s storage room and loaded the grinder in his pickup for me. I was briefed years ago just how heavy the grinder is and I know the efforts it took for Tom to load and transport it to me.
For many years, Bob, myself and a group of friends would meet in Ft. Worth to spend a few hours perusing the aisles at the Hunter’s Extravaganza. We would always go on Friday afternoon, just as the gates opened. This past week, I met Coker at the show and took delivery of “The Beast”, the nickname Bob gave his meat grinder. Bob had not exaggerated about its weight. We guessed it to weigh eighty pounds, all in a very compact unit! They simply don’t make sausage grinders like this anymore!
I managed to transfer it from Coker’s truck to mine by backing up, tailgate to tailgate. When I got it home, I found it was about all I could do to lift it the 4 feet up to my sausage-making table which I thankfully had constructed of two-by-six lumber.
At the hunter’s show, Bob’s friends and I kept the tradition alive. We were all there attempting to keep the conversation light as we looked over all the outdoor products and stopped to visit with venders, but there was absolutely no doubt that we were all feeling the same loss. Our buddy, who in his own quiet way was the leader of the pack, was not with us.
On the bright side, I am making plans for a celebratory ‘sausage-making’ day. We will schedule a date to coincide with a cold bluebird day after the passing of a blue northern this winter. The Beast will be in action again and we will pause and remember the good times we had with our old buddy and reflect upon all the good times to come. After all, it’s important to keep traditions alive.