First Day of Hunting - My Story
If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting, then the Gods must clearly smile on hunting. ~Aristotle
This past Saturday, after attending the Pittsburgh for LegoFest, Kyle and I went back to my parents house to get in a few hours of hunting before nightfall.
Sitting in the woods reminds me of my first hunting experience ever. As far as I know, the funniest hunting story known to man, at least in my opinion. I couldn't replicate even if I tried.
First, it started many, many years ago at 4:00 in the morning. Yep, that's what time dad got everyone up. I had already taken my hunter's safety course and I just turned twelve, or around there. Ryan wasn't old enough to shoot a deer, but just like years past, he tagged along with dad and helped him gut and haul out the hunted. Nicole and I had our doe tags and naturally dad had his hunting licenses for several counties. I don't think mom got her license that year, but she was certainly apart of the adventure. We suited up in the required orange outfits and headed out to the woods as a family.
The night before, mom instructed me to pack my lunch so it was ready, we all know I get hungry! And when I get seriously hungry and don't feel good, I start to get cranky and thinking straight falls by the wayside. When it comes to hunting and all of dad's outdoor activities, he could go all day without eating. He remains focused, never giving up a minute to do anything but hunt. Now-a-days dad's softened up a bit. That morning, everyone ate breakfast, except me. It was too early in the morning to eat and I wasn't hungry yet. To be honest, I don't think I was fully awake. I don't mind getting up early, in fact I prefer it, but at 4:00 am? Nope! Maybe 5:00 or 5:30 but 4:00 was pushing it. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that was my first mistake of the day. Not eating breakfast!
On a side note, here I am complaining that I can't eat because it was too early and there are children starving all over the world. So shame on me. My thoughts and prayers go out to those I do not know who are suffering. Especially those who don't have such a tight family as mine.
We filed into the truck, five of us and three rifles. Back then seat belts were not mandatory, at least not reinforced. To this day I still have no idea where dad took us, some foreign territory that he must have known to have prize size deer roaming around. Dad always knows all the hot spots to hunt and he has so many friends that let us hunt on their property. Having a lot of options, dad is very deliberate and methodical about his hunting locations. Usually before hunting season, dad will wonder around the woods to talk to locals to get a feel for the traffic patterns of the deer and the quality of the beasts. Like I said, dad is prepared and takes hunting very seriously, he leaves nothing to chance.
Once we got to the place we were going to occupy all day, we unloaded our gear. Really just shells and rifles. Dad passed out our rifles to me and Nicole. I didn't think anything of mine until we started walking. Dad had us walking, in the dark, up a logging road for maybe about a mile or so. That wasn't the worse part! My rifle didn't have a shoulder strap! What? As we marched back I saw dad and Nicole carrying their riffles on their shoulders with ease. What the heck? Why did I get the rejected rifle? I asked dad why my rifle didn't have a shoulder strap and he said it was an antique and it would devalue it. Basically, in dad's eyes he was allowing me to shoot his coveted antique rifle. It was to be an honor. Me being a twelve year old, up at 4:00 in the morning and hiking up a hill, holding a rifle for a mile was not my idea of special treatment. I remembered saying something to Nicole, probably trying to trade with her, but she's not stupid and wouldn't give up convenience. I was on my own. It's funny when I hear me talk about that, I kind of wonder if I sounded like Kyle, except I never whined as a kid or complained, so maybe not. Only because dad had a short temper and would have never put up with it like he does for Kyle now-a-days.
Finally, we reached our pre-plotted location. Mom and I planted ourselves on a log and Nicole was up the path somewhat on her own natural furnishing. I'm sure dad gave her instructions not to shoot down the hill in our direction, just like mom told me what area I was allowed to shoot safely. Nicole was maybe 200 yards away. We could see her, but then again we were in the woods, in the middle of winter, with no leaves on the trees, wearing neon orange from head to toe. I guess she would have been seen by a satellite in space.
By now the sun was rising and shedding light over the ground. Anyone that has gone hunting knows, it's kind of exciting first thing in the morning. You're totally awake, it's a fresh day and the anticipated excitement is building. Mom and I sat on our log and that's where it all began.
Unknowingly, we didn't realize the log wasn't very stable and as we sat, our make shift bench didn't supply the intended support. Therefore, the log moved enough to throw us off balance and we both fell backwards on our backs...
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