A few days of this beautiful weather and I’m already thinking about loading up the kids and Huck and heading for the woods this weekend! Our family has a hunting camp near the old home place–a spot where we can gather to holler and get dirty and shoot at stuff. (Remember last year when Huck got to be “a real dog, all day?”)
I steer clear of Cowtail when it’s hot, buggy, dry, or when people are shooting at stuff. Even though our 100 acre tract is posted, there ain’t enough orange in the world for me to take my babies into the woods during deer season. I’d even worry about Huck–someone might think they had drawn a bead on the fabled white buck that roams the forest.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with hunting anything we can eat. Shoot a rhino or a hawk or a mockingbird and we have a problem, but if we can grill it or roast it and it’s within the season and the limit, etcetera etcetera…have at it. I don’t shoot guns, but I take my bow and arrows to see if I can hit a balloon off a piece of plywood. I’ve never been one for the noisy kind of hunting.
At Thanksgiving, the nephews were talking about deer hunting and a friend of the family asked Daddy if he was ever much of a deer hunter. Daddy laughed and said, “I hit so many with my truck we didn’t have any space in the freezer for me to hunt.”
Then Daddy told a story that I really get now that I have kids of my own. He said that one year, Joe had finally gotten old enough to go deer hunting and he was beside himself with excitement. He kept asking Daddy to take him, but Daddy put him off time after time because he was too busy. If you don’t know much about deer hunting, it happens in the EARLY morning hours when it’s nice a cold and most people are asleep. It requires hours–to get out to the right spot, settle yourself, and wait. Our dad worked six days a week as a country veterinarian, so it was hard to find the time that hunting required.
Finally, on the last weekend of deer season, Daddy promised Joe that he would take him hunting. Joe could hardly sleep. Next morning, they woke up before dawn and as Daddy was getting his rifle ready, he realized that he was out of bullets. How was he supposed to tell Joe that they couldn’t go after all that waiting?
So they went anyway. He didn’t say a word to Joe about the bullets. They tromped through the woods and climbed up in the stand and waited and waited. Daddy let Joe hold the rifle the whole time. They didn’t spot a single deer, so Joe never had to take a shot.
As Daddy told the story, forty years later, Joe heard the truth for the first time. And judging by the way he laughed, he didn’t mind one bit that the gun was never loaded. He got to go hunting with his dad, just like he had been promised.
We only have so many mornings to fulfill our promises to our kids. Even when it’s cold and dark and way too early.