This year was the first year I have deer hunted seriously in a long time. I used to go deer hunting often when I was younger. However, the title of "dad" has stolen some of that dedicated time. As the boys get older though, I am able to take them, and I am able to slip out to hunt by myself as well.
I saw 6 does early in the morning on Monday but didn't get a shot at any of them. That afternoon, my brother, father and I decided to go my grandparents property on the other side of the county.
It's been a couple years since my grandparents died and I had not been to "the farm" since before my grandfather died. However, the familiarity came rushing back. As my brother and I moved toward our hunting spots we walked and talked about hunting there when we were younger. It was a homecoming of sorts. The old farm house and barns looked different, new paint and a little care, but welcoming. I was glad to be there.
I left my brother at the corner of the woods and moved on to my spot. It was a warm Monday afternoon and the smell of the woods and the crinkling of leaves underneath me brought back great memories. I sat just inside the woods where my father and I had often hunted squirrels. I laughed as I remembered the time that he told me that if I put cow manure on the back of my neck and behind my ears, it would keep the mosquitoes away.
The memory of hunting with my grandfather also came to mind. He was the first man that I hunted with other than my dad. I remember being so nervous when he put me in a spot to wait for deer. Luckily I never saw one or I probably would have been too scared to shoot. It felt good though, to be out with my grandfather, and be part of the hunting party that met each morning before the sun rose and enjoyed a breakfast that my grandmother would fix. It's a wonder anyone shot a deer in those days with us walking through the woods smelling of bacon, eggs, and coffee.
After an hour I signaled to my brother and we moved deeper into the woods for the remainder of the afternoon. I set up in a spot not too far from where my dad and I had one of the funniest deer hunting episodes I can remember. It was a cold, rainy day and dad had brought a couple of large trash bags for us to sit on and wrap over our feet against the moisture. We sat in the cold and damp for about an hour when two large bucks came down a trail toward us. Dad prompted me to take the first shot but I couldn't get a shot because of a small tree in the way. Within a few moments, the deer had spooked and began to run. Dad, forgetting about the trash bag wrapped around his feet, jumped up to shoot at the bucks only to find himself rolling over the bank toward the creek.
I did get a deer this year, a 4 point buck, but the memories of hunts long past was a bigger trophy and an inspiration to take the boys hunting more often. Hopefully, they too will feel the joy of the hunt, the companionship of men, experience the beauty and wildness of nature, and bag a life full of great memories in the woods.