When my mom remarried our family became hunters and fishermen. I was only six at the time and I wasn’t big enough to go on the hunting trips. After two or three years, I was allowed go with the family and fish while they hunted. I kept begging my new dad to tag along, promising to be quiet while he hunted. He said my legs weren’t long enough to climb over the downed trees and keep up with him. That just seemed ridiculous to an eight or nine year old. “I could climb over any old tree”, I thought. Now, I was a very small girl for my age and I began to think my legs would ever grow long enough to meet his requirement. Dad’s deer hunting stories fascinated me. He taught me how to look for signs: mushrooms dug around the base of a tree after a rain; the difference between buck and doe tracks and scat; places where they bedded down; and the different game trails.
I don’t remember how old I was when I finally got to hike along. Up before dawn and getting dressed in my brother’s hand-me-down hunting clothes was so exciting. We didn’t wear camo or the orange vest and hat. Those weren’t the stylye in the 50′s – just dull grays and browns. Off we went up the hill to the ridge where he planned to sit and hunt. It was then that I finally understood why I had to be bigger. Some of the logs we climbed over were three feet in diameter and of course the ground was not level. Indeed, I did need longer legs and a stronger body to keep up.
When we reached the first stand, we sat and waited and waited for what seemed like forever to a nine or ten year old who wasn’t used to being still that long. Then it was on to the next spot. That is how the day went. We didn’t see any deer that day, but it didn’t matter to me, because I knew that you didn’t see deer everytime you went out. Tramping through the forest and experiencing the views from the ridge tops was its own reward. When we got back to camp in the afternoon I’m sure I was exhausted from the long and tough hike, yet I know that I would never have admitted it. I didn’t want anything to keep me from being able go again. I felt proud that I could keep up.
Now, I can take my turn swapping hunting stories around the campfire.
Posted by Guest Poster on July 10, 2009
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