Sure...Happy to...If some you have stories, look for David Smith's thread and add them there, too. I'll print it all out for the family.
On a calm evening in late November, 25 years ago, I crawled into bed in a Boardman motel room shortly before 10 p.m.
My new acquaintance, a taxidermist who drew me like a magnet to his enthusiastic passion for duck hunting, said he'd be along.
As promised, he burst through the door about an hour later and without much talk climbed into bed . . . then leaped to his feet at 11:45 p.m. and said "Let's go!"
We scurried out into the dark and, shortly after midnight, launched his boat in the fog, motored a short distance across Three-Mile Island slough off the upper Columbia River and began putting out decoys in a small bay made by a hook off the rocky shoreline.
We were just about done at 12:30 when a large inboard jet sled loomed from out of nowhere and shined two bright searchlights on us, then panned over to the decoys. A long series of loud expletives erupted from the boat as it backed out of the bay.
That very moment, sharing the gloomy dark fog with a man I barely knew, I committed myself to David Boys' lifelong friendship. He grinned widely, lighted a couple of propane heaters and within moments, the rock pit serving as our blind was a warm, glowing amphitheater.
"Let's get some sleep," he said, still grinning as he nodded off to wait for daylight.
David, 63, who lived in Molalla and was semi-retired from Artistic Taxidermy, died Wednesday afternoon. His small skiff was carried away by a squall from an equally renowned Oregon waterfowl hunter, Worth Mathewson of Amity, as David chased a wounded brant down the tidal current of Tillamook Bay.
David wore a lifejacket, but was found lifeless, without the skiff, among the rocks near Barview. His body temperature was far too low for revival, despite prolonged attempts.
"I shouted at him to come back and get the big boat," Mathewson said. "I'll be haunted forever by the sight of David turning and flashing that grin of his."
I'll cherish David's grin and its silent reassurance; sometimes showing teeth, sometimes not.
"It's OK," the grin always seemed to say, "you can do this; we'll make it; go for the brass ring; stay with me."
I'm deeply privileged to have watched David smile:
xx As we motored down the Tillamook River in the dark on our way to a duck hunt and saw marine sheriff's deputies checking boat lights at a ramp we had to pass. David handed my wide-eyed son a bright red bobber and a flashlight with the crisp instruction to "Hold this over the bow on the left side as we pass by."
xx As we shared drinks and stories sitting in lawn chairs at Hampton Station, one of David's antelope collection stations in Oregon high desert. He handed out free "Buckbuster salt" and "Antelope cantaloupe" to all who stopped, whether or not they would be customers or even were hunters. No story went un-grinned.
xx On a caribou hunt in British Columbia the year before last and a year after his two Native American (First Nation up there) guides drowned in a similar tragic accident before he could take a trophy bull. "There you go," he said through a tight-lipped grin over his bull's carcass, christening the animal with the last of his coffee in a tribute to their memory. "I finished the job."
xx Two days later on the same trip as we rode horses 22 miles out of the wilderness. Twice, without warning, David leaped enthusiastically off his mount and ran alongside simply for the joy of the exercise and to feel the wind's chill on his cheeks, the taste of snowflakes on his tongue. He said, "Isn't this just the most magnificent country you've ever seen?"
xx Last week as he thanked me for inviting him along on a catch-up-with-old-times goose hunt even though we didn't fire a shot. "You know what? That was just fun," he announced.
It's reassuring for survivors to intone "He-died-while-doing-what-he-loved," but while that's true, David didn't want to die any more than the rest of us.
He said so, in fact, on several occasions to myself and other hunting partners. He beat back heart problems more than a decade ago and routinely pushed himself to exercise limits just to stay in shape for "another 10 or so moose hunts," he told me last week.
Not that death scared him. Rather, it was a threat that could interrupt his passionate zests for hunting and fishing, for caring for his family, for passing a heritage to every youngster he met.
When our times come, we won't be judged by whether we wanted to be there.
How did we live?
I like to think that David Boys, a devout Catholic, gets a free pass through purgatory.
That he's entered the gates the way he left us -- with a grin, his teeth to the wind.