“Doc”

July 2, 2017

“Doc”

In May of 2013 I packed up all my belongings into the trunk of my cherokee and started the long drive back home to Colorado from North Carolina. I had just finished a five year contract with the United States Army. After two deployments to Afghanistan I was ready to be back in the rocky mountains with friends and family. The plan was to catch up on some much needed time with my parents that summer before I moved to Bozeman to start school at MSU. When I returned from my first deployment in 2010 my Dad booked a trip to Vail for us and we participated in an Orvis fly fishing school. This trip was really just meant for him and I to catch up and get some guy time together but I fell in love with the sport. I dabbled with fly fishing while I was still in the service but I still had a lot to learn. That summer in 2013 I was determined to spend a lot of time on the water learning as much as I could before I headed North to Montana. My parents lived in Colorado Springs at the time so I got some advice from a family friend to check out a section of the Arkansas River between Canyon City and Salida. I headed down there determined to find trout. I rolled into the fishing access and started rigging my rod and putting on my waders that were two sizes too big for me. I looked like a junk show. As I was preparing my set up a silver Tacoma came crusing in, music blaring from the windows. The truck came to a stop and a gentlemen in his forties hoped out. We gave each other a nod as he started grabbing his gear out of the bed of his truck. As he rigged up I could feel his curious stare on me and I imagined him thinking, "who is this tattooed mess and what is he doing in my fishing spot?". He hollared out to me "which way are you headed?", I replied I would just go the opposite direction he went. He started off down the trail, stopped and walked right back up to me. "Mind if I look at your setup?" This stranger inspected my flies shook his head and asked if he could set me up with some different flies. I told him I would take all the help I could get. He fixed me up, said good luck and stomped off. Right before he disappered down the trail he yelled out to me, "Do you want to come fish with me? I could show you some good spots". I smiled big and yelled "absolutely!", locked up my car and ran down the trail to meet up with him. He introduced himself to me as Shawn. Shawn is a veterinarian and runs a practice in Castle Rock, Colorado. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I had just left the Army and was spending the summer with my parents in the springs before I moved to Montana to start college. After some back and forth Shawn and I discovered that he and I both served in the same unit in the 82nd Airborne Division but about 10 years apart. Of all the rivers in Colorado and all the fishing accesses on the Arkansas, fate brought Shawn and I together. I don't think Shawn made a single cast that day. He guided me, encouraged me, laughed with me and instilled a deep love for fly fishing in me that day. Since that fateful day on the Arkansas I have learned that Shawn is a lover of upland hunting, bird dogs, green chili, and tacos. Shawn and I stay in touch to this day and keep tabs on each other through social media. I hope one day he will find his way into my boat in Montana so I can give him a day on the Madison like he gave me on the Arkansas.

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