Author tells how he reconstructed a broken relationship
By Chelsea Martin
What defines a true bond? How does one achieve a genuine connection with another, specifically one’s own kin? Tempe resident and author Dr. Preston H. Long taps into the workings of his own discovery and success of bonding through his first book, Hunting with Father.
Now a sequel, Hunting with Father 2, is about to be released.
The stories describe the revelation of his disturbed, off-tilt relationship with Preston’s only son, Alexander, and the urgency Preston felt to correct the shambles of the relationship.
“It was depressing as a father,” Preston said. “(Alexander) was my only son.”
The solution: camping and hunting.
“My father and I did not get along right from the start,” Alexander said. “At the age of five my dad had already nicknamed me ‘M and M’, meaning Master Manipulator.”
“We did not enjoy each other’s company, and to be able to realize that at such a young age was very strange. At the age of eight my mom could no longer stand us butting heads and sent us to counseling.
“There the counselor suggested camping and hunting, an activity my father and his engaged in.”
After their first camping and fishing trip together, the bonding experience happened like spontaneous combustion.
“It was the first time that we had ever gotten along, actually bonded. We wanted to go back immediately because there was nothing that the city could offer us—all we wanted was nature,” Alexander said.
“It went from being such a negative thing with not a glimmer of hope to all we were drawn to. We got along in a great fashion and we (hungered) for it.”
Preston Long describes the transformation in his relationship with his son in Hunting with Father through the course of endless camping and hunting adventures, far and wide.
“One event changed the course of history,” Preston said.
“It started a fire.”
The book lets the reader get inside the father’s the mind and explains how the road trips across the United States with his son to hunt and camp were critical, satisfying and an experience unlike any other.
“You can bond over a lot of activities,” Alexander said. “But the thing you take away from hunting and camping specifically is the one-on-one consistent intimacy. We go out for five or six days and he’s the only one I can talk to.
“How many people can say they’ve done that with either of their parents?”
“We’ve been to nearly every inch of the country hunting together. The book reveals that it’s less about the hunting and much more so about father and son bonding together.”
Hunting with Father 2 continues to narrate the loyalty and bond between the two and how the strength of the tradition proceeds.
“The second book was written to explain that it’s now six years later, I’m in college and no longer a child, so where are we now?” Alexander said.
“And yet how, even now, with the thing that created the bond gone, that bond is still there and remains just as strong.”
Through the tales of this book, the reader is able to understand how the bond was formed through survival, tracking, skilled hunting, gratitude, feeding, patience, perseverance, truths and raw trust.
“The reason we wrote the first book was to show that experience and it was far more selfish,” Preston said.
“The second book emphasizes and is based on the idea that if you’re having an issue with one of your kids, read this. It doesn’t have to be hunting or camping, but find something in which that person has 100 percent of your attention for an extended period of time.
“Genuine time alone with your kid is what it’s all about. They don’t want your money, they crave your attention, and unfortunately it’s lacking in a lot of children’s lives.”
“I can proudly say Alexander is my best friend.”
Hunting with Father 2 will be available on Amazon at the end of July.