BY MARK WALTERS
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY STANLEY TIRE
Live until you Die!
Everyone reading this and anyone that ever has over the last 32-years has, there is one thing in common we have and that is that we will all die. Death is a very uncomfortable subject for most people to speak about, especially when it is someone that is terminally ill.
Early last summer I found out that my good friend Rod Bensley of Burnett was terminally ill with prostate and rectal cancer. Rod's first diagnosis put him as a lucky man if he saw Thanksgiv ing and there was no way that he could be the active outdoorsman that he has been his entire life.
Simply put the cancer is eating his bones and to walk is a chore that could be his last if he falls.
A little history about my friend is that he is 71, happily mar- ried to Wendy Vick, is a retired corrections officer, a lifelong tree climber/trimmer as a part time gig most of his adult life, and until this spring, created and ran Rooster’s Run pheasant preserve on 212 acres of pure paradise in Dodge County.
Rooster’s Run is how I got to know Rod and we have hit it off since day one. When I found out Rod was sick, I went to visit him and I had an incredible learning experience which everyone reading this should learn from. Live until you die, like teaming up with your wife and building a brand-new home on your property that your goal is to sleep at least one night in it or… How about in June maybe you will be gone in September, maybe not. Rod was not gone, and we teamed up with another good friend and shot 15 Canada geese on opening day even though he was in so much pain we had to lift him off the ground after he tripped to end our hunt.
How about Rod being thankful to be able to sit on one of many food plots on his and Wendy’s land and harvesting one more deer with a bow.
Rod and I talk and text often and though he has to rest because as he says it, “he hits a wall,” whenever possible he is always on his beloved UTV with Wendy and his Drahthaar “Sassy” getting something done on their land.
Last week I spent three days staying with Rod and Wendy and I hunted with a muzzleloader, participated in a chukar hunt and also hunted for a day during the four-day anterless season.
Rod wanted to do one last chukar hunt with Sassy and I was a gunner as was Jim Piry and Rod was the true bird whacker. Wendy did a lot of the working with Sassy because Rod had to make sure that he did not fall.
Our first round of 8 birds I witnessed the best dog, upland bird hunting, of my life as Sassy was simply incredible. After the hunt Rod thanked all of us for letting him cross that off his bucket list but it was us that owed him the thanks.
Friends, what can I say, this man has a million of them. Three that I spent a bit of time with over the years are Keith Kneser, Jim Piry, and Randy Henken. Running a property like this is an immense, year-round task and these guys are regulars with the help and now they are simply taking charge with whatever has to be done and of course Rod is there to do what he can and Wendy jumps in and works as hard as anyone that I know.
Another name I hear almost constantly is Tyler Thiede who seems like a son to Rod especially when it comes to any type of help to keep Rod hunting and one more name would be Justin Braun.
With a rifle, Rod shot his 55th buck and is damn proud of that. Tyler, Justin and of course Wendy were there to celebrate and get it out of the woods.
Like I said on day three of my visit Wendy, Keith, Jim, Randy, Rod and myself participated in some deer drives with Wendy and Jim not carrying guns and Keith and Rod being standers. I had not seen very many deer over the last three days, and we had some hunters that had a powerful urge for some fresh venison.
Two shots were fired over the course of our drives, both were by Rod Bensley. One was a heart shot that the range finder told us was at 197-yards. The other was a heart shot that the range finder told us was at 165-yards.
We all know people that are not with us anymore and that our time is coming! Rod Bensley has taught me and hopefully a few other people to stop crying and live each moment like it is your last.
Thanks Rod! Mark
Rod Bensley and his drahthaar "Sassy" enjoying a chukar hunt.