Cliff Pace has been fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series since 2007, finishing runner-up at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell then winning it last week on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Foremost in recalling his first hunts is his father.
With my first hunting experience, and anytime I think about any of the things I did growing up as a child, my father always comes to mind.
I was really unfortunate losing him when I was 18 years old, but I was really fortunate that he's what put me where I am out here in the world.
He spent a lot of time with me when I was a kid, hunting and fishing and doing the kinds of things that kids need to be doing. I think that's what helped jump start my career at such an early age, all the opportunities he provided for me to hunt and to fish.
But when you're talking about hunting, I always remember the first deer that I killed. I cannot remember the first bass that I caught, but I can remember the first deer that I killed.
It was just a little doe and there wasn't much to it, but I was probably 12 or 13 years old and I was as proud of it as if it was a Boone and Crockett. I remember killing it. I shot it from about 50 yards away and I was all by myself. I didn't know what to do and it seemed like it took light years for somebody to get there.
My dad was hunting about two miles from me, he heard the shot, but it took him that long to get out of his stand and drive over to me. I was so proud of it when he got there.
They have a little ritual where they put blood on your face and all that. I got to experience all that first hand, and when you're 12 years old, it really doesn't bother you probably as much as it would when you're a grown man, you just think it's all part of the gig.
But all of those traditions that are handed on throughout all the generations is something proud to look back on and be a part of. One day, if I have children, I hope to do the same for them.
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