RISING SUN - Frequent readers over the past four or so years will know that I usually don’t have much to say about hunting season–probably because I myself am not a hunter.
I’m Not sure why the sport never appealed to me personally, but I’ve chalked it up to the fact I’m a wimp and the prospect of sitting in the cold, silently, and potentially being struck by the recoil of a rifle to boot, all sound kinda unpleasant.
On the eve of opening weekend, a dear friend of my Grandpa’s posted several pictures of him with the many numerous big bucks that he shot over the 70-or-so seasons he took to the hillside. In every single picture, he had the same expression on his face–not too excited, not too impressed.
Even if it was just old hat for him, deer camp at my grandpa's house is one of my strongest childhood memories.
Most everyone of these memories involve the long road trip from our state line home in Beloit to my grandpa’s old farm house on the highway outside of Readstown. The house isn’t there anymore, but the big blue barn still stands.
We would all load up in the vehicle, usually Friday night after school and work, arriving late and tucking in on the floor in my grandparents' living room. When we woke up in the morning the coffee pot would be sputtering and the chili would be already simmering on the stove top.
If someone was fortunate in their hunt in the early morning, they’d be sitting at the big table with their piping hot bowl of chili already in front of them, no matter what the hour. Because, in Wisconsin during hunting season, chili is the most acceptable meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Chasca is the hunter of our household. Unfortunately for him, his luck has been a little slim for the past several years. When I first found out I was pregnant with Waylon and we did the math, we realized he would be ready to arrive right around hunting season. His good friend John regaled him with the tale of his firstborn daughter who came also during the nine-day season.
“I had just laid down from spending most of the night cutting up the deer I got, when Heather told me ‘My water just broke, we gotta go!’ It was a long few days after that…”
Chasca, however, was not brave enough to take to the woods, fearing the wrath of a very pregnant Emily, should he miss the call and I had to drive myself to the birth center or something. He did, however, manage to hit a deer on his way home totaling his car just days before I gave birth. Some kind of cosmic message from the Deer Gods I guess.
This year though was to be his year. We moved and for the first time he would be able to stroll out the back door and step foot into 20 acres of managed beautiful woods.
We’ve been watching the deer all year long, grazing in our pastures and jumping up as we hiked through. Night after night through the bow season, he returned with clean hands and a look of disappointment.
He decided to try his hand this opening weekend though of gun hunting, and finally, after about five-or-so years, he was successful. He had been sitting in one of his many tree stands for the entirety of the seasons and finally decided to sit on the ground. He hiked up to a nice point on our property and sat against a gnarly old oak tree and waited. His patience was rewarded when a herd meandered right in his line of shot and he was able to harvest a fine doe and a small buck. Which didn’t exactly cure his ‘buck fever,’ but certainly scratched the ‘I-haven’t-gotten-a-deer-in-years’ itch.
“YOU CAUGHT A DEER DAD!” Thatcher shouted with glee upon his return. We hopped into the UTV and rode up to the top of the trail where he had left his harvest.
Waylon was quite unimpressed with the creatures and fussed and hid behind my legs. Thatcher on the other hand was a bit concerned they might jump up and “kick ya in the head!” But once we reassured him that wasn’t the case, he seemed fine.
I’m sure, like many parents who enjoy hunting, Chasca is looking forward to the day when he can share this tradition with his boys, beyond just having an audience and commentary (“DAD! That Deer is NAKED AND AINT GOT NO LEGS!”-Thatcher’s main observation) for the skinning procedure.
This year, Thatcher told us “Maybe when I’m older, like five I’ll be able to go out hunting with dad. But right now, I just talk TOO MUCH and I’ll be talking and talking and the deer will say ‘who's that doing all that talking, I better run away!’ and dad will say “Thatcher pipe down! I gotta catch a deer for MEAT! But I’ll just keep talking, I’m just like that, you gotta understand that about me. I like to talk!” All of which is true.So for now, Thatcher and Waylon can stick to being the ones telling their sweet daddy ‘good job catching that deer,’ when he finally has the season he hoped for and maybe next year they can help me serve up the bowls of chili too.