Photo by Erik Ruf.

My dad believed you should find your own way through life. So when my four brothers and I were boys, he’d drop us off one at a time in the mountains to hunt mule deer. On my first opening day, a deer came trotting over a ridge, surprising us both. I shot the deer and hiked out looking for a helping hand. My dad stood at the mouth of the creek, like he’d been waiting for me all morning.

He stood there in support, just as he would in the coming years outside the locker room after a high school football game, at the head of the receiving line at my wedding, and in the waiting room when my own sons were born.

For more opening day traditions, click here.