Gibson turns off the highway onto the familiar network of one-lane roads. "I think I'm gonna have a bitch of a year next year. Now I've got five years in, and I've learned some things that have made my job easier. When I first came up I got built up so high I had no place to go but down. I started to believe my own press clippings. I was saying to myself, 'Hey, I'm great.' I may have gotten lazy. Then I found out there was more to this game than what the press says about you."
He pulls to a stop in front of a lodge alongside a half-frozen creek. He is greeted by his father and by the hunt-club manager, Don LaMarsh. Nick leaps enthusiastically from the Blazer and dashes in and out of the underbrush.
"You know," Gibson says, breath smoking from the bearded face, "I don't ever want to be compared to anybody else. I want to get all that bull behind me. I'm the next Mickey Mantle, they say. Bleep, those guys out on the mound don't give a bleep what you are." He hefts his 12-gauge shotgun lovingly.
"I didn't ask for the buildup I got," he says, climbing onto a truck that will take him to his duck blind. "I may not be the next Mantle, but I'll tell you one thing: I'll be remembered. And I'm not scared, I guarantee you that."