|When my dad came home from WW2, I was about 5 1/2 years old. I have no memory of dad before then. He enlisted right after Pearl Harbor. I was a bit over 1 year old. When he came home, dad and my grandparents pooled their money and bought a farm.|
The huge old farmhouse was plenty large enough for dad and mom, gramps and granny, my big brother Ike, Lil' brother Daryl and younger sis Angel. I must have been about ten years young when gramps decided it was high time I contributed something to the family larder. He was going to teach me the art of deer hunting. As he put it, 'He ain't gittin any smarter. Best teach 'im now afore he gits too dumb to learn'. Gramps was a gruff old codger but could be as soft as warm butter on occasion.
Our farm only had about an acre or two of trees and brush in the back where our land joined a cousin's farm. Cuz had about 200 acres of nice woods. They didn't like us much so we couldn't hunt there. Except Ike. He was 10 years older than I was and pretty much hunted wherever he wanted. So, we headed for a very large tract of timber along a river.
Gramps and Ike scouted the area earlier. They hunted here near every year so they knew the lay of things. Being next to a river meant it flooded every spring so a game trail that was there last year may be changed this year.
Anyway, we got there before daylight. Gramps led the way to a spot along a game trail where a tree had fallen, catching it's top in the crotch of a neighboring tree. the fallen tree formed a natural ramp up into the standing tree. Gramps told me to get my butt up there. When I got settled he handed up our one gun and climbed up, settling himself next to me. Ike went on to another location.
We only brought one gun, gramp's 16 Gauge single shot shotgun. He said he would get his deer later, this was my hunt. Gramps had loaded his own shells with his home made slugs. He made me shoot out behind the barn, at empty coffee cans until I could hit one each shot at about thirty feet. 'You ain't gonna shoot at anything past that', he advised.
I'll always remember his words that cold fall morning. 'Don't move from now on. If ya gotta look, just move your eyeballs. Don't scratch, whisper, fart, nothin. Squirrels'll be runnin 'round all over. Fergit them. Any deer will be on that trail right under us. Point that gun barrel down and wait. 'member, if ya move, I'll knock ya right outa this here tree'.
I don't think I ever sat so still so long. What seemed like hours later, I felt gramps poke my arm with his finger, ever so slightly. I strained my eyeballs to the side. Nothing. Other side. Young buck, standing in the trail looking down it our way. My heart was going pitty- pat like a jackhammer. Buck looked to the side, then, satisfied everything was ok, he trotted our way a few steps. I waited. He passed under our tree. Gramps poked me again as buck stepped on by. I brought up the gun, cocking the hammer and aiming, all in one quick, smooth move, just as gramps taught me. I didn't even feel the recoil but I still see the buck drop in his tracks, relieved that he didn't run for miles to die somewhere that night like gramps said would happen if I made a bad shot. We climbed down to look at the buck. The slug hit him at the base of his skull in back, killing him instantly. Gramps gave out his cackling laugh and slapped me on the back so hard I almost puked.
Well, we drug buck out of the woods to our truck, hung him in a tree and removed his entrails. Then we sat in the truck to wait for Ike. Gramps rolled two cigarettes, handed me one then brought out his fruit jar of evil tasting whiskey from under the truck seat. We talked and celebrated until we heard a shot. That would be Ike. Gramps always said one shot means deer. More than one shot means the hunter missed. So, three happy hunters headed for town. Our town had a locker plant. They would process your animals as you wanted, package the meat and place it in a locker you rented. You could come and get any meat when you wanted. In later years we would buy our own freezers.
At this point in my life, I think I would give all my tomorrows just to relive a few old times.
Local Time; 07;20 PM Local Date; 10-06-2008
Submitted By: Hop from IA on 2008-10-06