Sitting alone in a deer stand for most of the weekend gives one a lot of time to think. Well, in between reading, scanning for deer and some naps (seriously, we were up at 4:30 in order to get in our stands at least an hour before sunrise - naps are part of the process).
Like most deer hunters, there is a group of us that hunt together. This particular group started with our friend's father-in-law and his buddies many, many years ago. The group has changed over the years with members coming and going and member's children joining the group. Mark and I were the newest members, joining just two years ago.
It is an interesting group with members spanning all ages. There are even some of the usual deer camp suspects....
Although I have deer hunted off and on (more off than on) for 15 years now, this year felt a lot different.
This year we are (finally) expecting, and expecting a little boy at that. As my mind started to wander during my long sit in my stand I started to think about that little boy and how things will change once he arrives.
I was worried that this might be my last year deer hunting. It is typically a men's sport, although many younger women do hunt with their families. But, as these women get married and especially have children, they tend to hang up their rifles and/or bows and end up letting the boys hunt while they stay at home with the rest of the family.
Mark and I have talked already that we will need to find some creative ways to make sure that neither of us needs to give up hunting. We may try to alternate mornings/afternoons or maybe entire weekends. I am happy that Mark is being considerate on this as hunting is something that I enjoy and would like to continue.
Our friend is the one who introduced us to this hunting party. He has a little boy who has been hunting with him for a few years. I see how much hunting means to both of them and how excited his boy gets about being able to sit in the stand with his dad. Our friend is the hero of his little boy. It touches my heart to watch them together.
This year I started to think about my own little boy. I pictured him sitting in the stand next to me, dozing in his little sleeping bag, getting excited when he thinks that he heard a deer, and maybe taking his first deer next to me.
I did not grow up deer hunting, I only picked up it later in life as an adult. Most people don't understand it, and especially why a woman would hunt, but I like it. The anticipation of getting a bird or a deer is exhilarating. And when you finally do see that bird or deer in your sights, and take that shot, the adrenaline rush in unbelievable.
But, really it is not about that for me. What I enjoy most about hunting is the relationships. My husband loves that I go hunting with him. It is a nice way for the two of us to get away and spend time together. Our deer hunting party is made up of some hilarious characters but just really good people. While everyone enjoys a funny story and a little ribbing, we all want to see each other succeed and are there to help when they are in need. This is why I hunt, and this is what I would like to share with my boy.
While I have been hunting for a few years now, I have not been the luckiest. I have gotten a few grouse over the years, but never a deer. As I climbed into my stand this morning I thought to myself, "How am I going to teach my little boy to hunt if I have never even gotten a deer myself?". I knew that this was going to be my year, that I was going to get a deer today for my little boy.
It was a warm weekend, which unfortunately is not good for deer hunting. When it is warm the deer move around at night and don't come out during the day. While we hear some shots yesterday, today was eerily quiet. Dusk was coming soon and there was only about a 1/2 hour left of hunting for the day. That is when I heard the crack of a branch breaking. I looked up and about 50 yards ahead of me was a deer. I raised my rifle, shaking with excitement, and pulled the trigger.
I then realized that in my excitement I had forgotten to remove the safety. SHIT! I removed the safely quickly and re-sighted in the deer. I breathed out and took my shot. It was a great shot, she dropped right there.
It was amazing and I almost could not believe that I had finally gotten my first deer. But then I reminded myself my thoughts earlier in the day, that I would get a deer today for my little boy.
In my heart my little boy was right there next to me the whole time.