Back when I first started hunting with my dad in Central Oregon we hunted large fields and sage brush flats for mule deer. I remember the anticipation of opening day of deer season. If opening day fell on a school day dad would always let us skip school. We weren’t the only one. I think half the school took it off.
It seemed to me as a teenager that this day, opening of season, was the biggest day of the year. The weeks before we would go out and shoot every weekend. Most of the farmers in our area would supply my brother and me with the 22 ammo so we could clean their fields of ground squirrels, sage rats, and rock chunks.
We lived with a gun in our hands from age 8 and learned to respect the gun, everything, and everyone around us. The worst punishment was when I didn’t respect the or mistreated the gun or our property. Dad would ask me for my .22 that had its place above my headboard in a set of antlers dad had got some years before and would put it in the gun safe. It was like taking my right arm off.
What was I supposed to do without it? I would take long walks and pretend to shoot diggers. One of the best lessons my dad ever taught me was on a hunt for elk. We had planned our hunt months ahead of time before the season. We knew where the animals bedded and where they fed.
The plan was dad would let me and my brother off a mile down the road and we would walk the perimeters, one on each side of this large patch of timber. We were so excited to get to hunt on the driveto our spot dad had to tell us to settle down. We were like wild horses pinned in a 1978 CJ Jeep.
I remember trying to sit in the back and feeling my whole body quiver in anticipation. When we did finally reach our spot and get out I was having problems breathing normal. Dad went over the plan again and explained to us that we needed to wait until it was light before we started our hunt.
My brother, with flashlight in hand, headed to his starting point. I sat there by myself waiting for the light to fill the woods. As soon as I could see the ground I took off.
I was like a bird dog looking for a pheasant. I sprinted through the woods and it was no time before I was at the destination. As I sprinted up to dad all he could do is shake his head. He had just got in his area and was starting to hunt.
I had covered the mile in about 10 minutes and had pushed anything that was alive in to the next state. Then the lesson came.
“Son, it’s not how many miles you can cover. It’s how you cover those miles.”
I have never forgotten this. Enjoy your time out hunting and walk a little slower.
Hunter’s Best – Helping Make Memories….