Lost a Dear Friend

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sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Not sure how to put into words the feelings I've had over the last 4 days since losing one of my very closest friends. Most of us are very fortunate to be able to call a small circle of people really, really close friends, more like family or brothers. Brent Johnson was like my brother, we met 40 years ago in 1976, me not long home from the service & him not long out of medical school. Brent was my Dentist & we hunted, camped, raised boys, a little hell & shared hundreds of campfires & midnight rides together.

He was probably the smallest college lineman I had ever seen, both of us had played college football & even though I was a running back & Brent was a lineman I had him by 25 lbs. I think he ate raw meat & gun powder for breakfast because pound for pound I never met a tougher man, I really think if he had wanted to be one Brent could have been a Navy Seal just on Grit, he was that determined to succeed.

Like any two families just starting out we didn't have a lot, I had just built a new home on 4 acres along the river & Brent had built a home out of the big city from his Dental Practice on a few acres where we both had horses & dreamed of far away hunts & camping trips with our growing families.

Brent had bought a homemade single axle horse trailer & we were headed to one of my honey holes for a 4 day archery hunt 70 miles away. About 10 miles from our campsite we heard a loud thud & something jerked us almost off the road, Brent slowed down & the left wheel off the horse trailer when rolling down the highway past us, the axle had broken & the tire & wheel had came clear off the trailer! The tire went down the highway then in the dirt bank. We unloaded 2 shaken horsed, put them in a friends corral & went on bowhunting & then went home & borrowed a flat bed trailer & went back the following weekend after work & flagged down a sheep herder & one of his men & the 4 of us picked up that horse trailer & put it on that flat bed. True story, I told you he was tough!

In all my life I never knew any man that loved the outdoors the same as I did except for Brent, every single time we went in 40 years he would say how lucky we were to be living where we did & how beautiful the mountains were & he always took the time to enjoy the moment, it never got old, I loved that about him. For both of us it was always like we were seeing it for the first time.

In 1981 we decided to do Alaska & do it our way, everything would go on our backs. We hired a bush pilot to fly us 150 miles west of Anchorage & drop us for 17 days. I remember Brent's wife saying, she thought that was the last time she would ever see him again! We had fresh meat for the first day, after that it was all freeze dried food unless we shot some game. I did kill one of my Caribou the first legal day we could hunt so life was good. We did go way too heavy on freeze dried Blueberries & I've ate very few since 1981,

We had landed on a large gravel bar in the middle of the Kuskukuim River right at dark & when that little 185 lifted off we knew the world had just gotten a lot bigger. We pitched our tents in almost total darkness & hit the sleeping bags after flying all day long. Early the next morning I got up & stepped outside to relieve my 20 gallon bladder & noticed Brent was gone! I walked clear around my tent & saw another tent 150 yds down the gravel bar we had landed on the night before, maybe the wind? Before I could even do up my zipper I spotted some Dall Rams working their way out into a open park far above me & right at the same time my heart hit me right in the teeth, a large Grizzly walked out of the Alders & started walking down the shore line about 40 yds from me. The only thing seperating us was a finger of the river. Both of us are in plain sight & I'd zipped the flap shut on my tent, I couldn't even move, he can reach me in 3 seconds. If he saw me he didn't show it & one of us was scared stiff! He walked on down the edge of the water & out of sight & I could hardly even stand up. I get my gun & headed down to Brent's tent & he is mad, he said I was snoring so loud I probably called in every bear in Alaska.

So for the next 6 days we wade the river (37 degrees) because it's coming right off a glacier to hunt then back to our seperate tents after supper. We both had little back pack stoves to cook while we were out hunting, plus cheese, crackers & other snacks & jerky.

Brent wanted a bear really bad & we are seeing them every day, most days we see 3-4 & he was fired up to whack one but it had to be big! One day we split up & I found a very nice bear feeding in a blueberry patch & by the time I get over there I couldn't find him. I glass the slopes & he was much higher than I thought but I moved up the mountain & killed him with my 340 Weatherby only to find out it isn't the same bear, I've killed a small one by mistake. I load him on my Freighter packframe & head back to camp about 10 pm.



I told Brent about the big bear down the river a couple of miles & the next day he went down there & found the big boy in the same blue berry patch & killed him. He had him mounted life size & it's a great bear, I'm so happy he got him.

I could go on & on about the memories about my friend, the campfires we shared, him with 4 son's, me with a girl & 4 son's, the campfires, the dutch oven cooking, the long horse & mule rides in the dark, in rain, mud, snow, the laughs & struggles but it was the friendship that made it so special & how much we loved every minute of being out there, we never took for granted what we were seeing & knew that some would never see it, it was very special.

Brent had been crippled up for many years from many, many surgeries, he had to use a cane but nothing could stop him, he would climb on a mule & ride for hours, sometimes getting home long after dark but he always enjoyed the moment, he knew he didn't have a lot of time, his body was worn out, he weighed half of what he did when we were young men but you couldn't measure him in pounds, I really don't know how you could measure him.

I'll slip a couple of cartridges in the casket tuesday & next spring I'm going on a few rides by myself to our old campsites, I owe him that. I'll fire a few rounds & I'll fix some dutch oven spuds from the Aluminum oven he gave me & had my name engraved on it, it won't be easy but he never liked doing anything easy, hell I might even take a nap & see if I can snore!




This is Brent, his oldest son Clint & me in the Arizona desert about 4 years ago.



Dick
 

Cholo

Moderator
Staff member
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Jeeze, Dick, I'm really sorry to hear this :( It sounds like he led a full life and you were both blessed with your friendships. I just don't know what else to say...
 

eric conrad

Buckeye
Joined
Sep 8, 2003
Messages
1,471
Location
So. Ca.
I'm so sorry for your loss of a best friend. Your friend is gone but the memories will always be with you. My prayers are with you and Brent's family.
God Bless. Eric
 

tazbigdog

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 21, 2011
Messages
594
Location
Arizona
So sorry to hear of your loss. The memories are what we have when a loved one passes, cherish those. Thoughts and prayers sent to you and your family.
 

Rick Courtright

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
7,897
Location
Redlands CA USA
Hi,

I can only try to imagine your loss, Dick. It seems the better the life a man lived, the more we miss him, especially when he's been such an integral part of our lives. May Brent rest in peace, and may both your families remember and celebrate all the good things he meant to you, now and long into the future.

Rick C
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2008
Messages
383
Location
Southern Ohio
Sir, mere words do not always seem appropriate. Always remember, he felt the same love & friendship about you. My dad always said: "a true friend will be there for you when your family lets you down". You have been blessed with having a "true friend"; and he was too.
Nothing but the best to you,
Jay "Shotgungibbs" Prather
 

SAJohn

Hunter
Joined
Jan 6, 2007
Messages
2,300
Location
Terrebonne, Oregon, USA
Dick, That was an outstanding eulogy, I feel like I knew him. I know how you feel. Over the last few years I have lost my two best lifelong friends. Never a day goes by that I don't think of them.

John
 

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Today was a long day, we went to Brent's viewing & there were hundred's of people there paying their respects to a wonderful husband, dad, grandfather & friend, it was an amazing display of respect to a one of a kind man & well deserved. Just goes to show you that you don't measure toughest, integrity, manhood or honesty by size, you do it by example, service & love, my friend had those qualities. Not sure if I mentioned it, been a long day but today would have been Brent's 70th birthday, same as one of my brothers who was murdered several years ago. Hasn't been a great day for me but tomorrow we will have the burial service & I"m going to remember the good times, the hunts, the camping trips with our boys, the laughs & that infectious smile, that's what he would want me to do.
I slipped a 480 cartridge in his casket with Cathy's permission, she said he would be smiling & that's as good as it gets.
This is a recent photo of Brent, me & Callshot on top of Caribou Mountain, doing what he loved most of all.

 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
22,134
Location
Lake Lure NC USA
I was thinking about y'all yesterday,, as I butchered up some deer meat. And today,,, I see the pic of callshot & Brent,,, and to me,, that is a true treasure. I never met Brent, (my loss,) but it's obvious he was a well liked & respected gentleman. I know today will be hard as well,,, but know,,, we are keeping y'all in our thoughts & prayers.
 
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