Sam was born on the backside of a mountain in the San Juan's of southwestern Colorado, during a driving rain and snow storm while his Mom and Dad were hunting a rogue Black Bear that had been breaking into people's cabins and tearing the places apart. Fortunately, the boulder his Mother was lying against saved them from the massive mudslide caused by the rain. Oh, and as it turns out, the mudslide occurred at just the moment the bear was charging, stopping him in his tracks and subsequently pinning him against a tree and holding him there until Wildlife officials could arrive.
Ok, none of that is true (though it mighta been). Sam was actually born in the tony Margot Perot Children's Hospital in fashionable North Dallas surrounded by dedicated medical professionals with the latest life saving technologies at their fingertips. It only seemed like a driving rain storm accompanied by a mudslide. No, the truth of it is, is that Sam was born a City Mouse. He was raised in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area with stints in Oklahoma City, Ok., Boulder, Co., and Windsor, England - big cities all.
Like most young folk, he dabbled in a variety of sports - football, baseball, basketball, soccer - but soccer was the one that captured the imagination. He had above average talent and played Club Soccer from an early age through High School, including his stay in England where he was "the" American both on his club team and in the league.
The question arises as to how does a City Mouse playing a "non-American" sport find himself in a duck blind, a big retriever at his side, at day break while it is raining? Let's do a short progression.
He got his first gun - yes, a Red Ryder BB gun - at Christmas when he was 8 years of age. He got his first shooting lessons - safety, aiming, loading, gun care - in his back yard. His first official outing was a rabbit hunt with his Uncle and Dad, both of whom were carrying small gauge shotguns. The notable event of this experience is when he realized that his trusty Red Ryder was not powerful enough to actually stop a rabbit. He cried, frustrated and disappointed. A friendly discussion with his Dad and Uncle (who, in addition to being a fine human being, had a Ph.D in psychology) seemed to calm things. A second notable event of this hunt is that his Mom fried up the rabbits (two) for dinner. A full experience.
Sam's second big experience came when he was 10 years of age. One of his Grandads arranged a deer hunt for both he and his Dad in Tennessee. The big challenge on this one was bureaucratic - Tennessee required a Hunter Safety Certification and Texas did not issue them until a person reached the age of 12 years. A number of phone calls later a gentleman in a position to get things done said "I think it is important that a 10 year old get to go deer hunting with his Dad and Grandad". So, at the age of 10, Sam completed the Hunter's Safety Education course, the youngest person ever (at least then) in the State of Texas and received his Hunter's Safety Card but with the proviso that he would have to take the course again once he turned 12 (bureaucracies must be bureaucratic).
The hunt was in every way but one a success - the deer camp experience, lots of story telling (everyone on their best behavior in front of a 10 year old), camp fires, the opening morning excitement, field dressing and skinning of a nice buck. The "one" exception is that Sam did not personally bag a deer but the fire had been lit. Of note, the hunter who bagged the buck gave the hide to Sam. We had it tanned, it was on display for years, and he still has it. His first deer, a doe, came a year later at the same location in Tennessee hunting with his Grandad.
Then, the hunt that turned hunting into a minor obsession occurred when he was 14 years of age - elk hunting in Colorado. An elk hunt the previous year had to be cancelled at the last moment for reasons that, in retrospect, were silly, so that there had been an extended period of anticipation for this one. During this "extended" window, Sam had acquired his first big game rifle, a Winchester Model 70 in 7mm, been to the range several times and had built up a ton of excitement. That the hunt was a good definition for the phrase "bad luck" only makes it the more memorable - left by themselves (Sam and his Dad) the first day out, two neophyte elk hunters managed to lose-out on a nice 5x5, missed shots, lost magazines (Dad), long stalks and belly crawls with the elk disappearing when just in range, picking one spot only to have the elk move through the one not selected, a big bull in the middle of a herd not allowing a shot. It became exhausting. But, getting close to 20 years later, the stories of that hunt still get told.
It would be a couple years, and a couple hunts later, before Sam would tag his first elk - a smallish, older 4x4 - that he shot with his Dad. Sam has since shot Elk, and even a couple Whitetails, with bigger racks but this is the one that took the "pressure" off. Of historical interest, the elk was hit twice, one in the front left knee (or elbow) and a 'dropping' shot perfectly placed behind the left shoulder. The question has always been, why was Sam aiming at the elbow?
There have been a number of elk hunts since - some successful, some not - with both rifle and bow. Same with deer hunts. And there have been pheasant hunts. And quail hunts. And dove hunts. And hog hunts. And bear hunts. It has not been mentioned yet, but Sam is an avid fly fisherman, primarily in a handful of watersheds in the San Juan mountains (not everything was made up) of Colorado. It seems like something is missing, whatever could it be. Hmmmmm.
Oh yeah, duck hunting.
For reasons unknown, Sam has become - is - an avid duck and goose hunter. It certainly could not have been a result of his first duck hunt (before he was of driving age) - 2 1/2 hours of driving, staring at a mostly empty body of water for three (3) hours, two (2) shots, one (1) duck, followed by another 2 1/2 hours of driving. But, sometime during his time in college, he got the bug. He soon had all the stuff - the clothing, the waders, the decoys, the Mojos, the bags, the layout blinds, the blind making materials, the "right" shotgun with the "right" chokes shooting the "right" shells, have decoys been mentioned. And, of course, Linkin, Sam's Chesapeake Bay Retriever. What a college kid (young adult?) needs in NW Oklahoma with a 75 lb. dog bred to navigate the icy/rough waters of the Chesapeake Bay is a question, certainly one that his parents asked. But, it has worked, a man and his dog. Linkin is still with us 13 years later - old by Chesapeake standards. His days in the field are over (excluding (at least) one annual hunt dedicated to him). But, he has a fine son, Abe, who now regularly accompanies Sam to the duck blind.
Sam is an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. He likes thinking about it, talking about it, researching it, preparing for it and actually doing it. When successful, he makes every effort to ensure the game is properly processed. And, he enjoys cooking (smoking, roasting, frying, grilling) the end product as well. The full experience. He takes an active role in managing the habitat on his family's properties, is respectful of the quarry he is pursuing and adheres to ethical hunting/fishing practices.
On the side, Sam is leading a full and active life. He has degrees in Accounting and Finance from the Oklahoma State University, is married to a beautiful lady with whom he has two small children (a boy and a girl). He turned an internship into a full time job at Chesapeake Energy (we do not think his choice of employers is related to his dog choice), gained valuable skills and is currently the acting CFO for a startup. A young man making his way in life.
On a personal note, Sam is a bit reserved with a quiet, albeit direct, communication style. He is fair to a fault, holds strong convictions, takes responsibility for his actions and works at being successful at whatever he does. There is really only one outstanding question - why in the world was he aiming at that elk's elbow?