I've gotten to the point - middle age, I guess -  where I really appreciate having things in my life that stick around for a while. I've got a wife I'll be beside for another 40 or 50 years, God willing and the lightning don't strike. My dog is eight years old and coming into his prime (which means he can still keep up with me on a hunt, but no longer bounces around the house like a pogo stick on methamphetamine if he doesn't get a walk in). I've been shooting the same Remington 870 Wingmaster LW Magnum in 20 gauge for about the last 25 years or so, and had my Benelli SBE for at least 15. My truck just hit 185,000 miles and is still going strong, for so long as I can keep my eyes on the road.

I also have this collection of little rugrats, bright-eyed and starting to come out of the dew of babyhood into a life of adventure and exploration. They love rock-hopping and romping in the woods, and I bet Jack asks me to go hunting before too long. But they are still a work in progress, many years yet to go before they hump it up the Black Mountain Crest Trail or the Teton Traverse. They have a ways to go to begin to develop the patina that age and hard work bring.

Some things start to show their wear in a neat way, and then they end up with a lot of good stories to tell. I guess you could say that about people too, but with them you take the good with the bad if you know what I mean. It's nice to go down to the gear closet, in the middle of summer when hunting season is still just an embryo of a hope, and think about the miles I've got under my belt.

As to gear, I got these McAlister upland pants with waxed cotton facing in 2007 (McAlister is now defunct, unfortunately). Hunted them for three hard days in the woods of north-central Wisconsin chasing grouse and timberdoodles, and they got broke in real quick. They've hunted South Dakota in a few feet of snow, and in balmier times, the heat of South Carolina in the early fall, and the rocky slopes on Montana's Kootenai NF (as shown below). They've got a bit of blood, a little gun oil, and a few good coats of sweat in em now (can't wash the waxed cotton, so you just hose em off). They are due for a re-proofing, but are still going strong. I wouldn't wear 'em on a date, but they'll go just about anywhere else.

The only drawback in the McAlister pants is the thin poplin fabric in the seat, which has a few noticeable holes from crossing wire fences, and which show up quite well with white boxers. So I have some extra fabric that I'm going to take into Mama-san and see if she can jerry-rig up a reinforced seat for me. Shouldn't be quite as hot as the Filson Double Hunting Pants, but a similar level of protection in the high wear areas. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I've also got this old Army jacket from the early 70s. It was dad's first "ski jacket" back when he was courting my mom (He missed the boat to the South China Sea, went I-A for 90 days in 1969 but they never called his draft  number). Still, a cool piece of kit that has worn in well, and makes a good coat for when you want to get out and get dirty a little bit. The GI poly/cotton mix launders up nicely. Probably has some good stories to tell from before Mom and Dad got married, not that I want to know the particulars.

Dad bought these boots (pictured above) from Cabela's, probably in the early 90s. I stole them at some point after I got out of the Marines and have hunted in them since. They are broken in nice, the leather with a little mink oil will turn away the dew, and I didn't have to pay for them. Dad finally noticed on our last trip that I was wearing his old boots, and laughed. I don't think its that funny - they are good boots. No sense in getting a new pair.