The boy sat on the bench, quietly freezing. His breath making big clouds of “smoke”. It was still dark, and he imagined all kinds of predators surrounding him. His father was quite far away on the other side of the meadow. The he would think about him being fifteen feet up the tree, and the shotgun he held, and he felt better. As the dawn approached, he started to see shapes around the edge of the meadow – shapes he could not fully recognize. Is that a deer? Is that a wolf? (there were no wolves, but plenty of coyotes and foxes). Is that a turkey? Nothing made sense… why can’t he see clearly. How can he shoot a deer if he can’t see it?
Dawn did finally come, and the world awakened. Birds started chirping, the squirrels started chattering. He could hear dogs barking, cows mooing and donkeys braying. Now, where are the deer?
As he sat and listened, being entirely still and silent, A head poked out of the brush about fifty yards away. He held his breath, waiting to see antlers. The animal moved very slowly and cautiously. Finally, it stepped out into the open! No antlers!!! It was a doe with a fawn. No way could he shoot this animal. As she walked out into the field to eat, three others followed, one with a fawn and the others without. He was fascinated by the majesty and and alertness of these beautiful animals, and wondered If he could actually kill a big, antlered buck?
The boy continued to sit and wait. The small group of deer moved slowly across the meadow, grazing cautiously. As he sat and watched them, constantly shifting his eyes to the perimeter of the woods, he was as still as a statue.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a loud shot and a ricochet sound. His father had shot at something with his 30-30 Winchester. The boy sat still, hoping that shot would bring other deer out of the foliage. Of course the little group he had been watching were gone in an instant!
He sat and waited, but no more deer showed. He figured his father would come and get him soon, to help with the field dressing and the carry out of the carcass. Eventually, he saw his father walking slowly around the edge of the woods, dragging something. When he got to the boy’s tree, the boy lowered his shotgun with the rope, and then cautiously climbed down the rickety “steps”. When he was safely down, he questioned his dad about the shot. His father then drug a body in front of the boy. It was a coyote. He asked “why did you shoot it?”. His father replied that coyotes kill chickens and calves and other small farm animal, of which he and his family owned and raised. So he understood why, at that point. But you can’t eat a coyote!!
This experience formed the boy’s outlook on hunting that lasted a lifetime. He learned that patience really is a virtue. He learned that some animals must be killed to protect your own home and farm. He learned that he really loved the hunt – the sounds and smells of the darkness, and the the waking up of the world at dawn. As he grew older, he continued to hunt, never killing anything that he couldn’t or wouldn’t eat, and never anything that wasn’t a danger to him or his homestead.
Indeed, as he had children he took them on hunting trips. His daughters enjoyed the trips and being away, but did not like the act of killing. (they thought meat comes from a styrofoam package), but his sons both became hunters, and good ones at that. When he hunted together with his family, it was the best times of his life, and continues to be. Now, he’s waiting for his grandson to come of age to take him on the family hunts. That day will not be far away, and the tradition will continue in his family.