My shoulder felt like someone was sticking a knife into it. The temperature was only in the 40’s or 50’s, but sweat beaded in my hairline and ran down my back. As we neared the edge of the woods, my breath came heavily and I stumbled a few times. Ahead of me, Dad moved easily and quickly, carrying the other end of the 10-foot pole from which hung my latest kill. I grinned in triumph and excitement. Several times, Dad asked me how I was doing, but I couldn’t complain. We had a deal: I would haul anything we killed as far as we needed to get it, if he would do the gutting for me. I had the easy part. 🙂 So we marched on in the near dark, carrying our prize between us, like victorious hunters of olden days. The doe was small, not much larger than our Labrador retriever (although her dead weight (literally!) made her seem a little larger :)). We laughed as we walked: of the five deer that I’ve been able to bring down, the biggest probably didn’t weigh more than 100 pounds. But this had been a perfect shot, and we were content, in spite of the small size. This was fun!
This is just one story from my first visit to one of Dad’s all-time favorite hunting spots. Dad invited me to go along with him this trip, and I loved it! He even generously let me hunt his “honey hole!” 🙂 When we walked into the woods before dawn that Friday morning, we had a plan: stay in the tree until you shoot something or until it gets too dark to see anything. That day was very interesting; as I sat in my tree stand thirty feet high, I was able to observe God’s creation in a way that I had never seen it before. Some of the most memorable things were watching a hawk tantalize and then draw a whole flock of crows after it in a hubbub of hoarse squawks and shrill screams, watching another hawk light in a tree a little bit in front of me and then drop a squirrel into the creek below before taking off again, and sitting spellbound as a little deer bed down about thirty yards in front of me!! (For those of you who might be wondering, yes, I did shoot it a little later… after he stood up again. :)) I also encountered what I considered to be somewhat of a small phenomenon. Whenever we walked through the woods in the dark with only our flashlights, I could see hundreds of little green “sparks” all over the ground, but they disappeared beneath leaves and brush when we got too close. Curious about what this might be, I watched quickly, and to my amazement, I saw that the “sparks” were actually spiders’ eyes reflecting light in the dark, just like deer, cats, and dogs do! I know that probably gives some people the willies (i.e. some of my family members thought I was crazy to enjoy that), but I think it was a pretty cool discovery… as long as the spiders stay on the ground. 🙂 In the day and a half that we hunted, I probably saw 15-20 deer – beautiful! – as well as redheaded woodpeckers, hawks, squirrels, and other miscellaneous critters. Someday I want to go back – out of season, maybe when it’s a little warmer – climb the tree, and observe just for the fun of it.
Friday brought in my two small deer, and Dad’s 150-pound feral boar. Although we didn’t actually get anything on Saturday, we had a good time – outside, enjoying the stillness of the woods and the beauty of God’s creatures. I had a lot of fun with the hunting aspect of the trip (after all, one of my favorite seats is a tree stand!), but I especially loved being with Dad! We had a wonderful time, and I’m ready to go again next time my turn rolls around; although with all the stories we brought back, I now have several siblings lobbying to go!! Hmmm… too many hunters to go at once… what a great problem to have, huh? 😉