Debt of Gratitude
Dad chose his words wisely, as dad’s are prone to doing:
“Nope…it’s my job to carry the spotting scope”
“I’ll hike and find someone who can jump our truck…why don’t you go ahead and hunt”
“Here’s another scotch”
This year I was lucky and drew one of the most coveted Wyoming deer tags. My dad was the first person I asked to join me. With no chance of shooting anything himself, he accepted the invitation.
We have hunted a lot together but we realized this was the longest hunt or camping trip we had done together as adults. For six days we worked hard. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
We left camp in the dark each morning and didn’t quit until it was dark again. Ruthlessly, we hiked up and down canyons racking up elevation and miles. My dad was always just a step behind. Late on the third day we had to climb 800 feet out of the bottom of a draw to get back to camp. Halfway up I mentioned that my knee was hurting a bit. “Congratulations” replied dad, “mine have been killing me for the last two days, I’ve been taking Aleve a couple times a day”.
As soon as we got back to camp my dad would dive into making dinner, pulling out appetizers and pouring scotch. For a couple guys hiding under a tarp, behind a lone juniper, on an exposed windy ridge, we were living large.
By day four I was working hard to stay focused and keep my spirits up. The first two days I had passed on several large deer. Now I was wondering if I would regret it. Asking my dad what he would do he replied “it’s your hunt, you get to shoot whenever you want to”. Philosophically he noted that my freezer is already full and we would be missing out on the experience if I had shot something opening morning.
On day five I missed a nice deer. He was a heavy 5×5, tall and well outside his ears. It was a rushed opportunity and I simply missed. After hunting for several days, following the deer for miles and finally deciding this was the deer I wanted to shoot it was a bit demoralizing for it not to work out. That night I also drained the truck battery, accidentally turning the ignition on while trying to charge my phone. Dad was quick to pour me a second scotch.
It was one of the best hunts I have ever been on. We saw more big deer than either of us had seen in our lives. We camped and hiked in incredible country. I was able to share it all with my dad. Don’t get me wrong, there is a piece of me that is sick to my stomach over the deer I passed up and the one I missed. But I’m not ready to trade in the experience I did have. Fortunately, I should be able to get back in a week for the last couple days of the season.