They called him Deadeye Dan, although that was before I came along. He was a great shot. Dropping whitetails on the run as they darted between cottonwoods, elk in the fog at three hundred yards. Always just one shot. By the time I was able to tag along on hunts those days were long gone. He became quick to pull the trigger and the accuracy waned. As a twelve year old I had to make it clear I wanted to shoot my own deer and ask him to keep the barrage of bullets at bay, at least until I had filled my tag.
Grandpa has killed 56 elk,a fact he reminds me of every time we talk, in addition to 18 moose and several hundred deer. Now in his eighty’s he hasn’t been able to hunt in several years. But I learned as much about hunting from him as I have from anyone. The stories are also endless. Known for hyperbole, Grandpa is a character. A few of his axioms stand out in particular. These aren’t supposed to be the kind of thing you teach youngsters on the first day of hunters safety. You have to sort out the kernels of sage wisdom from simply talking smart.
- “Hunt like there’s an elk behind every tree”: This really is good advice. Grandpa always walked slow, worked the timber methodically and shot most of his elk at 80 yards or less.
- “If there’s lead in the air there’s hope”: This is how I will always remember my Grandpa. It’s not a strategy I want to pass on to my kids but it makes me laugh every time I think about it.
- “If they’re far shoot twice”: Usually said with a scotch in hand after delivering #2.