Home-Grown Hunting Partner
Hunting season is over. It has consumed me since the end of August. I shared duck blinds with strangers who I now consider friends. I hiked into the high country and huddled in a tent next to my father, each of us taking turns clearing the accumulating snow so our shelter wouldn’t collapse. Putting a late season elk in the freezer took a weight off my shoulders and allowed me to enjoy a few more days chasing birds. The memories are numerous.
But all of those seem secondary. Time spent hunting with my son was the highlight of the season. We didn’t shoot any big bucks or bulls, and we didn’t travel to exotic locales. But he’s one heck of a hunting partner. At five years old his enthusiasm is contagious and his drive is surprising. In the house he can be a nightmare. His energy overflows in unproductive ways that drive our entire family crazy. But hit the road with plans to hunt, and all that energy finds a custom fit outlet. It’s as though he becomes a different person.
In the truck we chat like old pals about the hunt ahead. Getting coffee and doughnuts at roadside gas stations, we bump knuckles knowing that we are living the good life and that mom would not approve. In friend’s basement we set our sleeping bags next to one another and sack out, our dreams drifting back to the day’s shared hunt.
In the field he’s earning his stripes. We talked wind direction and terrain as we worked to sneak within range of our quarry. When things went right, he asked questions, held a leg and examined, every inch of the two deer were were fortunate to harvest together. Before the hunt we sighted in rifles. After, we butchered in the garage and wrapped meat at the kitchen table. I have no idea where his interest will go in the years to come. But when he asked if we could go caribou hunting together in Alaska, something I have never done, I said of course…if you still want to go when you are sixteen.