by Jimmy DaSaint
This story isn’t about winning a writing contest. There will be no descriptive encounters with a grey muzzled buck stepping out of a foggy mist. No, “…and I drew the glistening arrow to my anchor point and waited: one more step, come on! Just one more step!” Instead, I hope you take away a sense of deep reflection on your time in the woods and those you share it with.
The opening day went fairly well for my hunting group. One guy put a buck and doe on the ground. Another guy missed a buck and doe; and I managed to miss an easy shot on a doe. My brother’s boy sat from sun up until sun down and didn’t see a hoof, a testament to his “stick-to-it-tiveness”.
I had built a platform stand some time ago for a friend of mine who doesn’t get around so well. The stand has steps and a hand rail that ascends some twelve feet. My friend had taken ill opening day, so I elected to sit this easy access perch. Between shots that echoed across the hillside, I rejoiced at having two of my best friends and my nephew in the woods with me. After I missed the doe and was reloading my muzzle loader, the impatient teenager buzzed my cell phone three times. When I finally seated the load I answered and heard, “Did you get him? Did you get him?” even before the receiver reached my ear.
I hadn’t hunted this stand for some time and my mind drifted back to a hunt with my own son during the youth season several years back. There was plenty of room on the platform stand for a 13 year old in a lawn chair and me on a bucket. The three pointer, antlered on one side, showed himself exiting a swamp and walked thru an opening in the pines. I grunted and heard the hammer click to the retracted position on my boy’s .410 single shot shotgun. The slug found its’ mark and 30 minutes later we were standing over my son’s first deer.
Now, had you been a squirrel peering onto that platform stand on opening day, you would have seen a big strapping guy chuckling softly and rubbing his chin whiskers. Then, minutes later, you would have seen him remove his glasses and wipe some moisture from his cheek, though the rain had stopped hours earlier. You see, my son had lost interest in hunting and I spent many days a field on my own. I couldn’t help but think that somewhere at that very moment, a mother or father was scowling at their son or daughter saying, “Shhhh! How many times do I have to tell you to be quiet?”- not knowing they should be savoring every snapped twig and dropped glove.
As shooting light faded, I called my nephew to meet me on “the lane”. When I met up with him I asked, “See anything?” He replied, “Naw, but we’ll get’em next time.” As we trudged up the lane toward the orange sky to the West, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe next year I’ll pick up the phone and hear, “Hey, Dad, got room for one more on the 15th?” And I’m hoping that a thousand other phones will ring with the same request.