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Opinion

Hunting not for everyone, still creates good memories of family, wildlife

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November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and that means hunting season has arrived.
Hunting, I’ll admit, is not, I repeat, not, for me.

When I was 12-years-old and had passed gun safety, I went hunting with my grandfather, uncle, cousin and dad on a rustic homestead located near my hometown of Plum City, Wis.
Since my earliest childhood memories, I could remember wanting to go hunting with my dad and grandpa. They would wake in the earliest hours of the morning, spraying bottles of scent killer on their clothes, then proceed to heat up leftover chili on the stove.

I would wave goodbye to them as they left for the woods. All day I would be upset that I was unable to go with them and my grandmother would console me by making hot chocolate and homemade soup.

When I turned 12 though, I finally got the opportunity to go hunting: to my detriment.
Eager to begin the day, I wriggled into the bright orange hunting gear – sucking my stomach in as I pulled up my coat zipper.

The first hour of hunting was majestic. The wind caressed the trees and me, like a fluffy blanket. The fresh smell of wood perfumed the morning air. I had never been more wide awake in my life.

The second hour of hunting: a little less majestic. The wind no longer caressed me – it stabbed at me. The fresh smell of wood that perfumed the air only made me hungry for some hickory smoked bacon.

I was falling asleep.

After I woke from my brief siesta, the boredom resumed: for the next three hours I had whittled a spear from a fallen tree branch.

I had ignored my surroundings. My father told me later on that a 10-point buck had gone behind me while I had been “messing around with my fiddle stick.” I didn’t care, the whittling was more fun.

Noon hit, and the best part of the hunting trip happened.

Lunch.

Only my cousin Corey and I came up from the woods for lunch. Not surprising, we were the two fattest guys in our hunting party. We both looked at the buckets of chili gluttonously.

Waving goodbye to each other, we both descended back into the confines of the woods.
An hour after I had returned from lunch, an adult doe walked right in front of me. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, besides the left over Little Debbie Snack Cake I once found in the backseat of my car.

The doe nuzzled about, trying to find some food that lingered underneath the snow-packed ground. The doe, hearing me, looked up in my direction.

Being the “professional” hunter that I am, I waved to the doe: it seemed unalarmed by my presence.

The doe lingered about as I undid my thermos and poured a glass of hot apple cider that my grandmother had packed for me.

Never have I felt more at peace in that moment, but, ultimately, peace does not last.
The doe looked up at me one last time, smiling. A loud concussive wave boomed into my ears.

I yelled madly, as the doe fell to its side. I think I even cried.

My dad came running down the top of the hill, holding his fists high. I stared blankly at him.

The one moment that I treasure most about that trip was seeing my grandfather’s smile when he exited the woods. He said that same doe had crossed his path an hour before, and he stared at it as well.

We shared that moment together. We shared serenity.

Since that unfortunate day in the woods, I prefer to stay at home drinking hot chocolate and eating homemade soup, but being around family, that’s what life is all about.

Parting words: never give up your family, their all you got – unless you happen to find a Little Debbie Snack Cake somewhere.

Tyler Smith is a student at UW-River Falls.