WOW, a piercing light just burned my retinas, what was that?
When I could open my eyes, it was the light in our garage, and I realized that Dad and I had made it home from our first hunting trip. We were hunting Turkey and Deer for 3 days and 3 nights. We had so much fun, but we came home empty handed this trip. It wasn’t that we didn’t try, but this was my first time, and I didn’t have the experience that would allow either one of us to get close enough to shoot at them. We were bow hunters, so one must be closer than someone with a rifle.
The preparation for me was very intensive, Dad and I practiced every night after he came home from work. He would put up empty cans or boxes or whatever we could find around the house for me to shoot at, but I am a terrible shot. I felt like a cartoon character where the arrow lands a few feet in front of my feet and I expected Bugs Bunny to come out from behind the tree and ask “UH, What’s up Doc?”
I know Dad was frustrated with me, he kept telling me that it’s just like playing baseball, watch the end of the arrow and aim it at the target until I let go of the string. Sure, that sounds easy enough, but the string felt like it was cutting the end of my finger off, so I was looking at my finger instead of the tip of the arrow. Out of 2 weeks practicing and knocking off the fence 1 box, Dad said that’s it, you’re ready, let’s tell Mom and family that we are going to go hunting and bring home some meat.
The preparation for a 3 day and 3-night trip is a very complex procedure, and I really thought that we were never going to leave the house. We have a truck with a camper, period, that’s the extent of our sleeping quarters. There is a cushion under the blanket that is laying on the bed of the truck that we will put our sleeping bags on and with pillows that should be enough. We will keep warm with our body heat in the sleeping bags.
Dad handed me a list of things that I needed to gather to put into the camper and off I went to collect them. Let’s see there’s sleeping bags, pillows, a change of clothes for me, get an extra pair of socks, get me jacket, gloves, hat and my hiking boots.
Dad was taking care of the picnic table, the camp stove, all the equipment, the fire-starting devices, the bows, all our arrows, and the equipment that went along with bow hunting.
Our food preparation area consists of a picnic table with a camp stove on it, and an old milk crate with plastic containers holding all our utensils, silverware, napkins, plates, and cups. The last thing on the list told me to go help Mom pack the ice chest up for us to have food. There also was a big woven basket that the dry food sent into, cereal, crackers, hot dog buns, and any other items that Mom thought we should have.
Mom and I were just finishing, when Dad stepped through the door and asked if he could start packing the items, I was responsible for in the truck. Mom checked my list and made sure I had gathered everything. Dad started loading the truck. There was sooooo much stuff, I wondered how all of it was going to fit, but Dad had no worries or issues, he told me to pick up the bags and follow him. I was amazed that dad was able to get everything in the truck with plenty of room for us to have our bows and a couple of arrows in the front seat of the truck incase we saw a turkey or a deer on the way to the camp site. We headed out of our driveway around 8 PM.
Three hours later, we arrived at the camp site, our space was reserved, so no one took our spot, but there were around 5 other groups of people already set up and they were having coffee around their campfires. After about an hour we were all set up and ready to go to bed so we could be up before daylight and start our hunting experience.
“BRRRRING” the alarm goes off at 4am, Dad jumps up and starts trying to wake me up, finally he makes that ultimatum statement, the old “if you don’t get up, I’m going to go without you” That’s it, that’s the statement that will make me jump up and get ready. Daylight won’t come until 5:30am but the camouflage preparation is a long one. First, I put on my regular clothes, then on top of them comes the camo suit, then comes the camo on the face, and guess what, we forgot the mirror, I swear it wasn’t on my list of things to get packed, so instead we take turns using the mirrors on the truck with a flashlight. It could be in a scary movie, putting on camo in a truck mirror with a flashlight, and then a monster comes up right behind me with a knife, oooooohhhhehheh, I better get busy and stop fantasizing, Dad will give me that statement again.
We are finally ready; Daybreak is just starting to show up over the horizon of the mountains around us. We all pile into our trucks and start down the road, the best way to hunt in this area is to drive to a meadow area where the hunted animals hang out to graze, it’s only about 5 miles away. We are driving very slowly to not make a lot of noise with the truck engine and tires on the dirt road, my dad taps me on the shoulder and says “look, right over there is a deer behind that little tree, why don’t you ease out of the truck door and take a shot at it?”
I load my arrow into my bow and ease out of the seat and shut the door behind me with the force I’m used to shutting it with and there’s this awful sound, I shut my arrow in the door, it made a loud clang, and the deer bolted away and took off down in the ravine. Dad gives me a look, I don’t really know how to describe it but I don’t think it was a look of approval.
We start down the road again, find a place to park and then we get out of the truck with our bows and water bottles in our camo suits. We walk in that sneaking slow pace trying not to alarm a deer should we walk up on one. The sun was almost breaking over the top of the mountain by this time and we were walking and walking it seemed like a very long time, my stomach was beginning to growl, we eat breakfast when we go back to camp around 9 or 10am, by then the deer have had their breakfast and they are bedded down for a rest before foraging for lunch.
We hear a bunch of noise off to our right and all of a sudden, a deer runs right by us leaving a trail of blood, one of our friends in one of the other groups of hunters was right behind the deer running, after it he had dropped his bow when he started to run, one of his friends picked it up and was following him on the road in his truck. Dad pointed to our truck meaning that we should go get in it and follow in case our friend needs help.
We follow until the truck in front of us stops and the driver bales out and runs into the forest. Dad and I follow him. We are running but still sneaking, it’s a strange type of run, we’re all moving, but no sound if coming out from behind our boots, it must have something to do with how much dew is on the grass, we aren’t making any noise at all. Our friend was able to find the deer, after it bled out, it basically just collapsed. So, all of us were standing around until the deer was gutted out and cut up into pieces so we could carry it to the trucks. It was about 10am when we started back to camp for breakfast and to ice down the deer body.
Everybody in our hunting group was so happy that one of our hunters had already been able to get a deer that we were all happy and singing around the campfire while others were cooking breakfast.
Dad was telling the others about me shutting my arrow into the truck door and they all agreed that was called “Buck Fever” because you’re so excited at the chance of getting off a shot that you get nervous and do things like that. Then Dad made a comment about me not being able to hit the side of a barn because I was such a bad shot, he said I would be lucky to say the least if I could shoot anywhere near where a deer was standing. He said watch this, he proceeded to get his hat and told me to get my bow and shoot at his hat to see if I could hit it. I was so humiliated and angry at that point, I picked up my bow and when he tossed his hat up in the air, I nailed it. My arrow went right through it, all the guys started laughing and pointing at me, congratulating me, they said he doesn’t need worry, all dad needed to do was make me mad when it was time to shoot a deer.
After we ate breakfast, most everybody got comfortable and relaxed, some even took a nap because we wouldn’t go out again until in the evening around 4pm. I was so happy that I could shoot under pressure and was hopeful that I might get to shoot at a deer, that I dozed off in the chair by the fireplace.
No matter what else happed that trip, I felt like I was a hunter like all the rest, and I was worthy of going with them.
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