Hunting Adventures – Deer Season

Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!  ~Bram Stoker

Deer hunting in Cortland NY Tree stand 11-21-15 Aunt Heather Piper

View from my tree stand in Cortland, NY … 1st day of deer season 11/21/15

Let me explain my reasoning for using this quote, which was selected more for my own personal humor.  It’s a famous quote, basically showing the correlation between Dracula and wild animals.  Bram Stoker was referring to the werewolves.  Plus, let’s not forget there’s the underlying theme of Dracula being a hunter.  (I think I’m going to add this book to my list of reads.)  Everyone knows who, not what, Dracula hunted, although perhaps he too hunted deer in his off time.

Out of shear curiosity, I looked up hunting in Transylvania, and they actually have red, fallow and roebuck deer!  A little fun fact.  One day, I’d like to take dad to hunt there.  I bet it’d be fun.

Anyway, focusing on good old white tail deer, during rifle season in Western Pennsylvania, a few weeks ago, the hunting season began.  I wish I had stories to tell from fall turkey, but alas I was really busy with Thrill of the Hunt and prepping to take time off for deer season that I wasn’t able to go.  Perhaps, I’ll be able to participate in small game and spring gobbler for the remainder of my 2015 – 2016 hunting license.  We’ll see.

Dad & Larry getting ready to deer hunt Cortland NY 11-20-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Larry adding ribbons to the trees, while Dad drove behind. Larry gave us a tour of the woods we were hunting in, & helped us get ready for the 1st day of deer. 11/20/15

Looking back on this entire season, it started off the same with the Hunting Adventures – The Goose Hunt and ended much the same with Pennsylvania deer.  How so?  Let me explain.

Dad and I went to Cortland, New York, as we do every year for the first day of rifle for deer, which began on Saturday, November 21st, a little over a week before Pennsylvania’s season began.  This year, we hunted in a different area, one that clearly showed signs of populated deer.  Promising right?  You bet!  Dad was positioned one side of the woods, while I was on the other end.  Prior to hunting on Saturday, a good friend of dad’s who we stayed with, showed us our new hunting spots the day prior.  Good to go!

Dad and I each had a buck and a doe tag.  How many deer did we get total?  Zero.  How many deer did we see between the two of us?  Nada.  Seriously?  Yes!  By Saturday night, everyone in our group got a buck, but no one saw a single doe.  It was the strangest thing, usually the opposite happens.  Then, for me and dad to not see a single deer, no one could believe it.  Well, it happens.

Deer Hunting in Indiana PA Tree Stand 11-30-15 Aunt Heather Piper

View from my tree stand in Indiana, PA. Love the morning view! 11/30/15

From what I was told, that area of New York, off the finger lakes, had a really rough winter last year ,and it killed off a bunch of deer.  Oh well, I was happy to see everyone else harvested at least one deer.  Keep in mind, that was just opening day.  Dad and I were going to continue hunting until we filled our tags, or Thanksgiving came first, forcing us home.

Sunday came, and yes you’re allowed to hunt on Sunday’s in New York, but another nothing.  No deer sightings at all.  Monday.  Zip.  Tuesday.  Zilch.  Wednesday.  Nada.  How many deer did we see?  Total between the two of us?  That’s a big fat zero.  We even moved to different locations throughout the week to increase our chances, but alas no deer.  I told Dad and Larry, I suspected the deer intercepted their phone conversations and had us bugged to avoid us.  Honestly, I had a great season last year so I can’t complain.  It’s a bit disappointing and anticlimactic, but it’s apart of the hunting experience.  Sometimes you see deer, sometimes you don’t, sometimes you see a trophy buck, sometimes you don’t even see a buck.  We left Wednesday to head home, after trying our luck in the woods again, but to no avail.

On a side note, Larry gave us his doe he shot later in the week.  That wasn’t necessary, but very kind of him.  Larry felt bad for our lack of adventure, but I don’t think he realized we had fun regardless.  Hanging with Dad in the woods is always a nice time.  I told Dad, that the deer he gave us to take home felt like a consolation prize.  Dad laughed and agreed with me, but was also very appreciative over the gesture.

Deer Hunting in New York 11-24-15 Aunt Heather Piper

One of my spots while hunting in New York. Waiting for Dad to pick me up to call it a day. 11/24/15

I’m glad we made it back by Wednesday night, to spend some time with Kyle.  I was also able to help mom cook and prep for Thanksgiving dinner, which Kyle joined us.

After a short hiatus, the first day of buck in Pennsylvania began on Monday, November 30th.  Dad and I were both really excited, thinking our luck was going to change.  Unlike New York, we were only allowed to shoot buck on Monday, three points or better.  The night before, I was joking with Dad saying, I forgot what a deer looks like in the woods.  Dad began to tease me and tell friends and family that I was the reason we didn’t see any deer.  We were both giggling over our New York experience, and we were ready to bring home some deer meat.

By eight or nine in the morning, I saw a few doe.  To be honest, it was nice just seeing the deer, however no horns.  At the end of the day when dad pulled the quad up to my stand to pick me up, neither of us had anything to drag out.  Dad didn’t see anything!  He was happy to hear I saw about thirteen doe, although I’m not sure if they were all different, or the same group running around.  Still, good sign.

Deer Hunting Tweet Aunt Heather Piper

Naturally, I have social fun while deer hunting. If Dad knew, I’d be the one shot, not the deer!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hunt on the first day of doe, that Saturday, but dad did.  He went into my tree stand and harvested a doe in the morning.  Yeah!  Finally something for our efforts.

I hunted sporadically with dad the rest of the season, again at different locations.  Can you believe we never saw a single deer?  Not one deer after Dad got his doe!  On the last day of deer season, Saturday, December 12th, which happened to be my birthday, and Mom and Dad’s 64th wedding anniversary, we never saw a deer.  This time we were hunting in Stahlstown.  We even had guys pushing for us, but nothing, not even an almost sighting, or a waving tail.

I didn’t realize our goose hunt started a trend we couldn’t shake the entire deer season, from New York to Pennsylvania.  The season might have been a bust with respect to harvesting deer meat, but to be honest, I had a great time with Dad.  It’s funny, when we came home on Saturday, Dad made the exact same comment about having fun even though no one took a single shot.  Like me, Dad loves being in the woods, walking around, and being removed from the hustle and bustle of life.  Sure, it’s always nice to accomplish your goal of filling the deer tags, but it’s also about the experience and spending time together.

I’m sure in years to come, we’ll talk about this adventure.  I hope so, for it’s a great memory!  The only thing missing was Kyle.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Making Deer Bologna & Deer Jerky

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.  ~Julia Child

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Close-up of the deer bologna, made with cheddar cheese. 1/24/15

On Saturday, we finally had the chance to make deer bologna and deer jerky.  Is it hard?  Nope, not even close.  The hardest part is monitoring the cooking, or in the case of the jerky, the dehydration machine.  As long as you keep a close eye on the meat, perfection!  A healthy snack!

Way back in December, during hunting season, which seems like a lifetime ago now, we ground up the deer meet into hamburger.  Yes, we have a grinder to grind our own meat.  Believe it or not, we use it during the winter months, not only for deer, but also if we’re butchering a cow (ground chuck) or pig (sausage).  By next year, I’m going to raise my own turkeys, and make ground turkey meat. (I love turkey burgers!) We weighed the meat, sealed it in plastic wrap, wrapped it in freezer paper, labeled it, and froze until ready to use.  We use the ground deer meat for burgers, taco meat, and meatloaf, among other recipes.  This year, we set some aside specifically for the bologna and jerky.

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Deer Bologna ready to be snacked on … made with cheddar cheese! 1/24/15

Before beginning, the weighed meat needs to be removed from the freezer, at least a day or two in advance to slowly defrost.  I wouldn’t suggest using a microwave to assist with this process, because even though the microwave “defrosts” the meat, it still cooks the edges slightly, and that’s no good.  Do yourself a favor, and take the time to let the meat thaw naturally.

In the past, we’ve made deer Salomi, but from what my parents said, they didn’t care for it as much as the bologna.  So bologna it is!

We purchase our bologna mix at Gander Mountain, and sometimes Cabela’s.  There’s a certain brand my parents like, although I can’t remember the name (It’s in an orangeish bag).  You can purchase bologna kits, that contain the pertinent spices, as well as the casings.  We prefer the fat casings, as opposed to the thinner ones.  The thinner ones tend to dry out fast, especially when cooked alongside the fat ones.  So cook them separately, if you choose to use a combination of fat and thin casings.

Starting with the bologna, since it takes a while to cook, we dropped the thawed weighed ground deer meat in our hand crank mixer.  Using dad’s homemade red wine instead of water, we diluted the spices in the liquid.  Simply follow the directions on the package for exact measurements.  Now, it’s really as easy as adding the diluted spice mixture to the meat, mixing, and then stuffing.  Make sure you soak the casings in warm water prior to stuffing.

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Close-up or our deer bologna, made with cheddar cheese. Perfect snacking goodness! 1/24/15

To assist us a step further, we added the meat mixture to our hand crank stuffer, typically used to stuff sausage.  It works wonderfully with the bologna casings, as long as you use the smallest tube and keep the air out by holding the end into the meat.  Simply, crank the mixture into the casing, leave a little room at the open end to twist, and seal.  Lay the long cylinders together ready for baking.  I wouldn’t recommend adding the bologna rods in the oven one at a time.  Save yourself some frustration, and confusion and add them all together, on the same rack.   Again, use the cooking directions on the package.

On a side note, during the mixing stage, we added chunks of cheddar cheese to the meat.  My family is partial to the meat and cheese mixture, but you can add, jalapeno peppers, spicy cheese, or garlic pieces.  Experiment to find out what your family likes best.  Keep in mind, when another ingredient is added to the meat mixture, it will increase the amount of bologna, in turn increasing the number of casings used.  So, have an extra casing or two handy, you’ll need it!

I do want to call out, during this process, Kyle would not touch the raw meat with his hands.  That cracks us all up!  He simply just can’t do it.  Knowing this, I couldn’t help but smear a little meat on his cheek or hand.  Kyle snickered and played along for a while, until he had enough.  He’s not the adventurous or traditional type of cook.  He’s more the, stand-on-the-sidelines and dictate direction.  I love that kid!

Nicoles-Ramen-Noodles-Stockpile-2014-Aunt-Heather-Piper

This picture is just hilarious…as I opened my sister’s hallway closet, I saw these Ramen Noodles. Apparently, she purchased them as part of her doomsday prep!  Gross!  The best part?  She bought them on Craig’s List! I was dying! 2014

Okay, funny story, yes besides me grossing Kyle out.  It’s always an adventure in the Piper household, especially when Kyle and I are involved.  While Kyle was cranking the meat mixture into the casing, he was struggling a bit.  Toward the bottom of the metal container, it does get tough to crank.  Smarty pants me, told Kyle to step aside, thinking he was being dramatic.  When I began cranking, Kyle sarcastically commented, “It’s not that easy is it Aunt Heather?”  In a way, he sounded just like his dad, Ryan, when he was trying to prove a point.  While I was flexing my muscles, literally, I too wanted to prove a point.  My point?  That there was still plenty of cranking room.  While doing so, we heard a huge BOOM noise.  Everyone looked at me, like I had a clue what that noise was.  I back peddled the crank to find that I was pressing the mixture so hard, it created a vacuum and blew the cheese cubes flat to the bottom of the metal container.  Keep in mind, there was still meet mixture in the tube leading to the casing.  During the back peddling process, the space beneath my sealed top, where there was a void of air, it pulled the meat mixture back into the container.  It was amazing, it happened so fast we just stood dumfounded.  The force was so great, the meat gathered in a large single mass in the center of the container.  Science, too cool!  It’s little moments like that, that make this so much fun!  We were giggling, and having a good time.

While the bologna cooked, we started the deer jerky.  Same process really, take the thawed weighed ground deer meat, and the spices diluted in dad’s wine, and mix well.  Instead of using the stuffer, we added the meat mixture to a press, which resembles a cookie press, or an odd looking firearm. (fitting)  Anyway, we used the thin narrow tip to squeeze the meat directly onto our plastic dehydration racks.  Since the racks are circular in shape, we lined up the meat strips from outer ring to the center, giving it a wheel appearance, leaving space between strips for air circulation.  Then, on the next row, I staggered the meat strips, compared to the rack below.  This continued until all the meat was used.  One batch filled our machine, almost perfectly (I believe we have extra trays).  We placed a timer on the machine, and let modern technology do the rest.

With each, the deer bologna and deer jerky, it’s prudent to constantly check the progress, and not let the oven or the timer on the dehydrator dictate when the meat is done.  Nope, you be the judge.  Check the temperature of the bologna, and check the texture of the jerky.  Also, keep in mind with the dehydrator, some trays will finish sooner than others.  Don’t over do it.

Once you’re done, sit back, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  It’s totally worth it!  Gathering as a family, and passing along cooking traditions such as this one with Kyle, makes it a truly memorable experience.  Kyle loves his deer meat, and he enjoys cooking, but he loves being a part of the family the most.  Even at his thirteen years, I could tell he likes to be included in our traditions, as much as we adore including him.  Happy snacking!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

First Day of Hunting – Ryan’s Story

When some of my friends have asked me anxiously about their boys, whether they should let them hunt, I have answered yes – remembering that it was one of the best parts of my education – make them hunters.  ~Henry David Thoreau
Ryan-Piper-Buck-12-2-1992-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan’s buck, 10 pts about 19″ spread. 1st buck! 12/2/92

Since it’s Christmas Eve day and we are all missing Ryan terribly, and since I was recently reliving our hunting tales from 2013, I thought I’d continue.  I never told the stories of Ryan’s hunting expeditions, especially his first year.

Ryan practically grew up in the woods, exposed to hunting since he was two years old.  No joke!  Ever since he was potty trained and able to walk around, dad took Ryan with him hunting.  So even though Ryan never shot a deer until he was twelve, he had a decade of experience in the woods tracking, gutting, dragging and skinning deer.

Ryan went with me and Nicole on our first hunting adventures, walking around pushing deer with dad.  Wherever you found dad, Ryan was attached to him.  Seriously, almost all the time.  So by the time Ryan found his way to heaven, it made dad’s favorite hobby, (for a lack of better term, even though hunting is more of a way of life with dad then a side hobby) that much harder to enjoy.  Well, that is until Kyle became of age and I got back into hunting.  Now hunting is truly enjoyable again.

This year, more than others, dad started telling all the Ryan hunting tales of years past.  I mean it, dad could drive by some hillside in Green County or Westmoreland County or even Cortland, New York, and comment ‘We shot a lot of turkey up there.’ or ‘Ryan shot a nice size doe over there.’ and so on and so forth.  He did it the entire time!  It was nice seeing all the hunting areas dad and Ryan trekked together.  To be honest, I had no idea just how many hunting adventures and how many different spots Ryan and dad ventured.  Definitely more than I could ever correctly repeat.

Ryan-Buck-19-inch-spread-10-points-Aunt-Heather-Piper-12-2-1992-hunting

Ryan’s 1st buck, 10 pts, about 19″ spread. Deer hunting was on of his favorite activities 12/2/92

While me, dad and Kyle were hunting this year, Kyle took a shot at a small buck, and dropped it on one shot!  The adrenaline was working its magic, because Kyle wanted to plug it with another bullet.  Apparently, dad said, “Nope, you got ‘er buddy!”  Dad said it was a great shot in the shoulder, it looked like he took a sledge hammer to the deer, quick and painless, hopefully for the deer.  That deer gave us a nice supply of deer meat for the freezer.

Ryan-Buck-deer hunting 12-2-1992-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Close-up of Ryan’s 1st buck. 10pts, 19″ spread 12/2/92

The first year Ryan went hunting, naturally dad took him.  Alas, at that point I had already turned in my license or the year after, to only return many years later.  Dad said, “When your daddy shot his first deer (doe) I had to laugh, it was full of holes!”  Kyle and I both laughed at that comment.  Ryan must have been so nervous to drop it, he shot the deer up.  Dad commented, “I had to throw away the hide, I couldn’t sell it ’cause it was so full of holes.”

That statement intrigued Kyle, our little banker.  I totally forgot, dad used to sell the deer hides from the season.  In recent years, he has since retired that action.  Probably without the extra help of Ryan, it’s a lot of work.  Maybe that might be something I’m willing to get back into again.  I do believe Kyle would enjoy selling the hides.

Ryan-Piper-Buck-sideshot-12-2-1992-Aunt-Heather-Piper deer hunting

A side view of Ryan’s 1st buck. 10pts, 19″ spread, way to go! 12/2/92

Now the best story ever!  Ryan’s first buck.  Do I remember it?  You bet!  Only because it was such a prize.  Dad had my cousin’s Jeremy and Chad with him, as well as Ryan hunting.  I’m not sure if anyone else was present.  But the story goes, dad instructed Ryan to reload his gun, whereas my cousins did not, just in case they saw something.  Never question my dad, Mr. Grizzly Adams himself.  Like I’ve said before, he speaks deer.  Well, wherever they were hunting, no clue, but out pops this buck and since Ryan was locked and loaded, he took it down.  I remember that day, crystal clear.  I recollect the guys all coming back to mom and dad’s house to skin their deer and for their photo ops.  Ryan was beaming, but not nearly as much as dad.  Boy was he happy and proud of Ryan!

Ryans-horns-&-gun-rack-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Those are Ryan’s horns from his first buck! Below is the gun rack Ryan made in high school. The feature was from our trip to Cortland, NY to move dad’s tree stand. Taken 12/24/13

Later, dad had Ryan’s horns from his prize buck mounted, which now resides in dad’s office across from his loading desk, above the gun rack Ryan made in high school and right beside the gun cabinet Uncle Walter made for dad one Christmas as a gift from mom.

I do wish Ryan was around to take Kyle hunting.  There’s no doubt, that Ryan would have treated Kyle like dad treated Ryan.  But Kyle is very blessed to have his pappy around to show him the ropes of hunting, fishing, loading, tracking and even trapping (Kyle has expressed an interest in, even though dad hasn’t trapped for a really long time).

Christmas always carry’s a different type of tradition, an almost unspoken one.  You see, since deer season is so close to the holidays, most of the tales within the woods are fresh on everyone’s minds.  Usually when we get together with family, all the hunting stories come to life.  All of them!  Silly, serious, unbelievable and all true.  Deer hunting is more than killing wild animals, it’s more than proving meat for the family, it about family time too.  Priceless, quality time together in nature!

Read other adventures in Hunting

Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer
Hunter’s Safety Course – Passed!
Hunting – Survival or Sport?
First Day of Hunting- Kyle’s Story

First Day of Hunting – My Story

Hunting Adventures of 2013

Our Hunting Adventures … New York
Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued
Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County
Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Westmoreland County

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Westmoreland County

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.  ~L.M. Montgomery

Cabin-my-brother-&-cousins-built-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Another shot of the cabin, hanging out, relaxed & peaceful. I sat on the steps for a few minutes watching deer & remembering the stories that surfaced from this place…. 2013

… Continued Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

On Wednesday, dad and I hunted on a friend of mine’s property.  My friend Susan was kind enough to let us take a shot at some new surroundings.  Pun totally intended!  Her kids shared the knowledge of a few buck sightings.  Why not?  We haven’t had any luck at this point, at least not in Pennsylvania.  Did we see anything?  Dad did!  But he said it wasn’t a legal buck, so no shot.  If Kyle was with him, Kyle would have been able to shoot, since he is not limited to the number of points.  Even though we came back unsuccessful, we found our new hunting spot for next year.  Dad and I both LOVE the area.  There are plenty of deer and it’s really a nice piece of property.  Not the cliff of death with spiderweb brush to get caught up in, like Green County.  And not that far away, maybe forty-five minutes.  Dad can also get around on his quad safely and I must admit, walking was a lot easier and very enjoyable.  Can’t wait for next year!

By Saturday, Kyle joined us back in the woods by my parent’s house in Westmoreland County, on my cousin’s property.  Finally, we were blessed with a fresh coating of white fluffy snow!  It really was so peaceful and pretty.  Early that morning dad and I saw a couple of deer running down through the woods, but no shot was obtainable at that angle.  Saturday opened up doe season.  We were permitted to shoot buck (three points on one side) and doe.

I’m beginning to think it’s not me that causes our adventures, it’s Kyle!  While sitting on a log, Kyle wanted to walk back to the house to use the restroom and grab a quick bite.   Anyone and everyone who knows dad, is well aware he doesn’t stop hunting for anything, not for food, not for drink, for nothing unless he drops a deer and is dragging it out of the woods.  Kyle was in shock over this revelation but wouldn’t give in.  Naturally, I was elected to head back with our halfway hunter, even though I wanted to stay and hunt.

While Kyle was doing his business I made a thermos of hot chocolate for us and I made dad a thermos of coffee.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the hot chocolate might not have been the best decision.

Party-Cabin-in-the-woods-Aunt-Heather-Piper

As I was pushing deer for dad during hunting season, I walked past the cabin (a.k.a. the party shack) that my brother & cousins built. Why? For no reason … very peaceful 2013

When I finally got back to dad, taking a different route to try and push the deer in his direction from lower on the hill, I gave dad his coffee to warm him up a bit.  Dad asked “Where’s Kyle?”  Replying while I rolled my eyes, “No clue, probably a mile down the road.  You know how slow he moves and he knows the way.”  A few minutes later dad said, “I’m going to walk over to the other side of the road to look to see if anything is moving.”  Just then, here comes our great white hunter, dragging his feet up the road.  Dad turned to me and said, “Never mind.  If there was anything, they’re gone.”  That was so funny!   I did give a chuckle, as dad rolled his eyes and grinned.  We love our Kyle to death, but he can be challenging.

So we sat, and sat, waiting for movement.  Nothing.  Then Kyle takes out the thermos of hot chocolate, clicks the cap to get the liquid rolling, blows (loudly) to cool it down, then slurps up the warm drink.  Dad turned to look in our direction with a look of, ‘What is going on over there?’  It was Kyle drinking his hot chocolate as loudly as he drags his feet.  Dad was starting to loose his cool.  As per reading dad’s body language, I told Kyle to put it away and don’t get it out again.  I couldn’t believe how loud he was!  Of course looking back on it now, we can laugh over the situation, but not when the pressure was on and no deer dropped in Pa.

Dad and I continued to hunt on Monday and Tuesday.  No luck, but a lot of snow!  We went around my parents house.  I walked a few miles each day, trying to push deer, but nothing.  I love those woods, I am very familiar with them and it’s really nice stepping out the door and walking or riding the quad to our hunting spots.

Dad continued to hunt Wednesday morning.  It was more of an adventure when the dogs got out and decided to go on a day trip.  It was even better when dad and I saw them head up through my cousin’s field and they ignored dad yelling, turned and headed up through the woods.  Dad was like lightening on the quad after them, like he was the lone ranger.  Those stinkers eluded dad all the way up onto Frosty Lane.  The chase was on.  Even Gigi was calling from work while she was tracking them, as was I.  While this was going on, I would call and give dad the valuable intel of their location.  Dad said once he rounded the bend and saw Scooby, he dropped his head like ‘We’ve been discovered, our fun has come to an end.”  You see during hunting season, it’s happened when hunters will shoot the beloved four-legged friends, especially if the dogs were chasing deer.  Mean, I know!  Something none of us would EVER do, but it has happened and we desperately didn’t want to experience it for ourselves.

While tracking them I realized our boys went a lot further than we’ve ever seen them.  They also seemed to follow my lead, the same course I was pushing deer for dad from the day prior.  Obviously the dogs were mad because we kept leaving them in the house while we went through the woods hunting.  What a pair of spoiled dogs!

All in all, it was a pretty good year.  God blessed us with a buck and a doe, dad shot and a buck Kyle shot.  That meat is already butchered, wrapped and awaiting to be called upon from the freezer to be made into a meal.  Yes we gut, skin and butcher our own deer, every year.  That way you are certain it is done right and it’s your deer, no question.

Even though it was an unsuccessful hunting year for me personally, it was a great year!  Kyle and dad filled their tags and we all had a great time hanging out with each other.  Family time, nothing beats it!  There’s always next year.

Read our hunting adventures of 2013

Our Hunting Adventures … New York
Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued
Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

One eye sees, the other feels.  ~Paul Klee

Kyles-buck-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle’s buck, way to go buddy!! 2013

…Continued Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

New York hunting always starts before Pennsylvania hunting, which increases our odds of filling the freezer with meat.  In Pennsylvania, the first day of buck is the first Monday after Thanksgiving.  The day of excitement!  Generally speaking, most schools in Western Pennsylvania give kids that Monday off, simply because a lot of kids hunt, including Kyle.

The Saturday before hunting season started this year, dad had me and Kyle went to the property where dad hunts in Green County.    What town?  I have no clue where I was except we had to pass through Waynesburg to get there.  All I knew, we had to take down yet another tree stand, and move it up hill.  Up this steep hill.  Up the steep hill with no clear path.  Did I mention it was up hill and the hill was steep?  Plus the ground was soft and muddy, which didn’t make the move easy.  Once dad picked his new spot, (sometimes that takes a while for him to evaluate his surroundings and pick the perfect tree) I had to get back in the tree stand and secure it.  I’m actually getting pretty good at it especially after What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand and What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand … Continued.

Now for the directions to my pre-chosen hunting spot, courtesy of dad.  The old man wanted me to find the tree stand before hunting so I was acclimated to the area.  Actually, great idea!  He also wanted me to physically sit in the tree stand, ensuring it was stable and secure.  Ok, good thinking!  Now for the directions to the Directionally Challenged, Dad said:

Follow this path up and at the large poplar tree make a left, go up the hill and off to the left you’ll see the tree stand facing uphill.

Again, there wasn’t really a clear path.  And, in a forest full of trees, which I’m sure there are more than one poplar tree, I had to find a big one.  What kind of directions are these?  Granted, it was daylight this time, but still sometimes looking for a black camouflaged tree stand can be tricky.  Again, Ryan must have came down from heaven to point out the tree, because when I saw it, I knew that was the one dad was referring to.  At one point, Kyle trekked up to see what I was up to, and I could  tell he was given the same instructions.  Luckily, he saw me in the tree and made a straight path for my stand.  When we left together, Kyle questioned, “Is that the big poplar tree pappy was talking about?”  I laughed and said, “I guess so.”

You think these types of directions are rare?  Nope!  Even up by my parents house dad’s directions include, “Out by the big poplar tree.” and “Over by the huge oak off the bank.” and “Beside the birch trees” and so on and so forth.  Dad’s lucky I usually can identify the trees, but not always.  I didn’t work in the woods my entire life like he did.  To dad, each tree is as unique as a street sign.

Monday, the first day of buck in Pa.!  I will admit, it was a long day.  Not only did it take us about an hour and a half to get to our hunting spot in Green County, plus the return trip, but we had to basically make our way up a cliff in the mud to get to our tree stands.  With every step uphill, we slid back two.  My tree stand, which used to be Ryan’s was furthest up the hill, past dad and Kyle’s hunting spot.  I’ll give dad credit, I’m in reasonable shape and my breath was labored walking up the path through the woods and handled the trip like a champ.  Good old Kyle was huffing and puffing along the way.

Usually the first day of buck is exciting, not this time.  There was almost no one hunting, which means no one pushing the deer either.  I did see a couple of doe up further on the hillside, but again we were only allowed to shoot buck and they had to have two points plus the brow point.  Dad and Kyle saw NOTHING!  Boring!

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Kyle & his hot chocolate.. I’ve never heard someone make so much noise with their drink before! 12/7/13

On a side, there were a bunch of turkeys making another ruckus.  Not as many as Our Hunting Adventures … New York but enough to bring a smile to my face.

Kyle always seems to make the days interesting.  One of the trips to see me, he came straight up in my tree stand, pushed me aside and plopped himself down.  It look like he just set up camp!  We were both cracking up, just because he seriously is so funny!

Then, I could tell he couldn’t wait to share his experience with me, probably because he knew I would get a kick out of it.  Which I totally did!

Kyle started by saying, “Well, Aunt Heather let me tell you about my morning.”  Seriously?  What a trip!  He continued, “First pappy knocked my bag, with all of my food off the tree stand onto the ground.  Then, I got deer poop on my hand.”  As he was showing me his hand (cleaned).  What!  What?  “Kyle, how on earth did you get deer poop on your hand in a tree stand?”  I was seriously wondering what the heck those two were doing.  Kyle said dramatically, “Well, when I was climbing up the ladder to get back in the tree stand, pappy must have tramped in deer poop and got it on the ladder and I put my hand in it.”  Gross!  Even worse, he knew I was totally grossed out and he continued on about the deer poop story.  “Ya and pappy had to pour my water onto my hand so we could get it out.”  I’m trying not to fall out of my stand laughing at this kid!  Then, the ultimate, he kept touching my arm with THE hand.  I said, “Stop touching me with the poop hand!”  He must have thought that was an invitation because he began patting me on the head with THE hand.

Later, dad retold the story and said, “That kid!  And how did he know I was the one who tramped in the deer poop, the deer scat?  No, it couldn’t have been him?” (sarcasm) On a side note, we find humor in calling the deer poop, scat.  So we exaggerate that word every time we see it or reference it.  Dad elaborated, “Ya we had to use all the water and you should have seen him scrubbing his hand and wiping it on me.  That kid!”  That’s our Kyle.

After, we calmed down, Kyle decides he has to go to the bathroom.  What?  Now the truth comes out.  He didn’t just visit me to see how I was doing, he came up so I would hang with him while he went to the bathroom in the woods.  You see dad said, “If you have to go to the bathroom, you’re walking back to the truck and doing it there.  I don’t want you going [to the bathroom] around our tree stands and hunting areas.”  Reiterating dad, I said, “You’re not going here! Go back to the truck, it’s not that far.”  Hesitantly, “Ya but I’ll probably get lost, I’ll just go around here.”  What?  No!

So what did I do?  I walked him up and over the hill, which happened to be the property line and let him use that area.  “Kyle I’m going back to the tree stand, when you’re done, go back the way you came, OK?”  He also commented, “Don’t tell pap until we get back to the truck.”  With my reply, “Ya right!   I’m tell him as soon as I see him.”  In my mind, I’m also telling his Aunt Nikki and Gigi about the situation.  Obviously he didn’t want to tell pappy and have to walk to the truck.

A little while later, I thought I saw Kyle at the top of the hill, walking down the wrong side, but then he disappeared.  Only to reappear again, standing at the top of the hill looking around.  I was cracking up, the kid got lost!  Finally, he was looking in my direction and I waved.  Kyle waved back!  Too funny!  Seriously, how can he not see me?  I’m up in a tree, probably close to his eye level, just a little distance away, wearing bright orange!  I stand out like a sore thumb.  Whatever.

Once he made his way back, he jumped up in my tree stand to confess the obvious.  I couldn’t resist asking, “Did you get lost?”  He smiled and confirmed my suspicion while we giggled over his actions before heading back to hang with his pap.

Leaving the day defeated, but having a truly fun day, we headed home.  Later on, we found out there wasn’t any action going on around my parents house either.  No one was seeing deer this year and especially not bucks.  How can that be?  There are at least a dozen or so dead deer along side the highways?

Dad and I went back to Green County to try our luck on Tuesday.  The same old nothing, however I did see the same couple of doe in about the same location.  But aside from that, zip!   I even hiked the hillside trying to push the deer out for dad.  Let me tell you, my butt and quads were burning!  That is one steep hillside and it was full of thick brush, which makes it really hard to walk through.  Tuesday heated up a bit and no movement from the deer.

Actually the only excitement came from dad.  Some hunter on the adjacent property, which apparently dad had words with in previous years, cut through the hunting area were dad and I were sitting, to try and push deer onto his property.  Dad yelled at him to stay on his own property and that was the last of it.

Read our hunting adventures of 2013

Our Hunting Adventures … New York
Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

One day in the country
Is worth a month in town  ~Christina Rossetti

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Kyle’s buck of 2013 .. Good job buddy!

… Continued Our Hunting Adventures … New York

It’s always an adventure with the Piper clan.  On Sunday morning, November 17th, when it was still pretty dark, I saw an animal with a very bright white, almost glowing fur coat, sneaking around the forest floor below me.  It was kind of the size of a squirrel, but didn’t move like a squirrel.  In fact, it moved more like a ferret.  Keep in mind it’s still pretty dark, but I could see the critter clearly.  Being completely intrigued I watched it move around for a good fifteen or twenty minutes with my flashlight, seeing what it was up to and trying to get a good look at it.  I really wanted to identify the unknown animal.  After it moved on, I forgot all about the creature until we were back at the motel room and I described it to dad.  Apparently,  I saw a weasel.  Too cool!  This is a perk about hunting, not to mention the sounds of nature, being out in the fresh air, seeing the beauty God has provided, harvesting meat for the table, but also seeing these creatures, which I would normally never see.

We were blessed on Saturday with mild weather.  Actually, a perfect hunting day.  Sunday was a mix of rain and rain and wind.  Monday wasn’t too bad, just windy.  We were all hoping for snow, but it wasn’t in the cards.  Why snow?  It makes it so much easier to see the deer and to hear them.  Plus, the woods are so pretty when it snows, especially when the branches catch the white powder appearing as if the snow is held in mid air.  I love the outlining effect of the trees in white, like the snow stretched up from the ground to fill the tips of the trees.  Love it!

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Dad & Kyle hunting in Green County. Kyle was probably dragging his feet through the leaves…our little Peeta! 12/2/13

On Saturday, I had a chance at a small buck in the brush.  As I lined it up in my sights, I remember dad saying, “If your gonna shoot, make sure you have a good shot and shoot it in the shoulder to take it down.  We don’t want to have to track the deer.”  You see dad doesn’t believe in unloading your gun on one deer.  Line up your target and then take your shot.  If you need a second bullet then use it, but not your entire arsenal.  He feels you should get it on one shot, which usually he does!

As I watched the buck move swiftly through the brush, I looked ahead to see an opening in a direct line with his path.  Perfect!  I thought I’ll wait for the deer to walk into the clearing and then take it down with one clean shot.  As I watched the buck go behind the trees, I noticed it never came out to my preplanned drop zone.  As I tracked it in my scope, I saw the buck turned and walked up over the hill!  What?  When I saw this, the only shot I had was between the trees, through the brush and at its rear-end.  Not good!  That’s not an appropriate shot and one I would never take.  If I’m taking a shot it’s to drop the deer and not have it suffer and run off.  Can you believe it?  Apparently, the buck didn’t get the memo to keep walking straight into my line of sight!  O well.  Looking back on it now, dad and I both agree I should have just taken the shot in the brush.  Dad commented, “You never know unless you try.”  Good point old man!

When it comes to deer hunting, there is no one I trust more than dad.  He has dropped hundreds of deer from the time he was nine years old.  Plus, he’s been a woodsman most of his life and he seems to speak deer.  Really!  He has this sixth sense about them, like he can read their minds.  He is a truly great hunter!

Once Saturday came and left, Sunday arrived.  After sitting for most of the morning seeing nothing, to break up the day, I headed down the hill toward dad and Kyle.  Once I got there, dad had us walk around to see if we could push the deer.  Finally, dad gets me!  He’s starting to catch on to Kyle too, realizing we can’t sit for too long, we get antsy and silly and loose focus.  All the things dad is not keen on in the woods. He takes hunting very seriously, rightfully so.

On another side note, in New York it is legal to hunt on Sunday, not like Pennsylvania.  So we were able to hunt all weekend into Monday.

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Dad hunting in Jim’s woods … we finally got snow! 12/7/13

Did we see any deer on Sunday?  Nope, but with my little man making a herd of noise, I couldn’t image why not.  I was watching Kyle walk through the leaves.  Instead of picking up his feet, he was dragging them through the forest floor!  What?  Eventually, I started to loose my patience snapping at the kid, “Pick up your feet Kyle!”  With a response of “I am Aunt Heather!”  After walking a few feet and standing there waiting on my slow poke noise maker to catch up, Kyle started to chuckle and said, “Call me Peeta!”  I was dying!  That was too funny!  Perfect reference to The Hunger Games.  Unbeknownst to my friend Kelly, she texted me that night asking how Katniss, referencing me, was doing on my hunting expedition.  Later I told her, perfect timing of her text and seriously how funny it was.  Good one guys!

After leaving dad and Kyle and heading back up the hill, the very steep and butt burning hill, and after getting slightly twisted around, I had another opportunity in the form of a doe.  I was on the ground and was getting situated when I saw a doe approach.  It was standing between trees without a good shot.  To be honest, during hunting season the deer are a bit skittish, rightfully so, and any movement will spook them.  Bringing my rifle up and resting it back down was out of the question.  I had to hold my rifle up until she walked into sight.  By that time my arm was shaking all around and was exhausted.  Then, I took the shot… and missed!   I reloaded immediately, but again her butt was facing me as she darted out onto a different property line, leaping out of sight.  I went to the scene to see if I could start tracking some blood, but nadda.  Nothing.  No hit.  Dang!  Seriously, nothing would make me happier than to be able to provide deer meat for the family freezer.  Not to mention, it would make dad very proud and happy to see me get a deer.  That’s fine, we still have the rest of the season in Pennsylvania.

After the excitement of the day, I made my way back down to dad and Kyle, where we all jumped on the quad and headed out for the day.  This road, I was totally familiar with, since it was the same one we used in the summer when we were here moving dad’s tree stand.  What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand, What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand… Continued This road, or I should say quad path, was like a roller coaster ride, straight up the hill, uneven and washed out in some areas, and topped off with obstacles.  Let’s not forget the roads were extremely muddy from the rain and slick.  Kyle and I loaded on the back of the quad with our feet hanging over while dad drove.  Dad keeps his rifle around his neck and normally I sling mine around my body and wear it on my back, but that would mean the barrel would be pointing in Kyle’s direction.  Not good!  So Kyle positioned his rifle around his neck facing the woods and I held onto mine, pointing toward the ground.  Where they loaded?  You bet, in case we did see any deer.  It wasn’t dark yet and we had a nice little trek to get back to the truck.  Granted, we had the safety on to not chance any accidents, but the opportunity was there to take a shot at a run away deer.

Just as we got on the back of the quad, both me and Kyle, at the same time, leaned in toward each other and said, “Hang on!”  We cracked up!  Kyle said, “Pappy thinks he’s driving a tank and he’s invincible on this thing.”  I was laughing!  He was speaking the truth, yet it was seriously funny coming from his mouth and straight from his very own observation.

The entire ride on the back of the quad was a bumpy, hang on, white knuckle ride.  At one point we were so vertical, my feet could touch the ground and I had to pick them up before I scrapped mud.  Dad didn’t admit it, but I truly think we had a least one wheel off the ground.  Then, let’s discuss the swimming pool sized mud puddles.  Every time dad went through one, I thought we were going to sink to China.  Yet we made it safely through with every pass.

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Later day view from my tree stand… hunting in Cortland, NY 2013

I  hunted for half a day on Monday, before saying bye to dad and heading home.  Kyle had school and I had work to get done and dad was planning on staying until the weekend.  We had so much fun, both Kyle and I wanted to stay with dad, if for anything else to give him some company.  Even hanging out in the motel room was fun, joking around and discussing the days events.

Dad told a lot of deer hunting stories and talked about Ryan a lot.  It was therapeutic for dad and good for Kyle to hear about his dad.

Hunting in New York for years, dad and Ryan used to go up there all the time.  As we drove to and fro in the woods, dad would point out who shot what, when and how big it was.  Can dad remember that?  You bet he can!  He has no idea how old I am, but when it comes to hunting, his memory is pretty spot on.  Especially, his hunting trips with Ryan, they are his special memories.

Either that Tuesday or Wednesday, dad shot a four point buck and a doe.  The buck was pretty large, supplying us with good deer meat for the freezer.  Dad was planning on coming home Saturday night but instead pulled up Thursday mid-day.  He missed sitting in the tree stand with Kyle, his buddy.  I don’t blame him, it’s always more fun to hunt with family than by oneself.

Thanks to Larry and the New York crew for their hospitality and the adventure.  Can’t wait for next year!  I will be prepared this time.

Our Hunting Adventures … New York

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Our Hunting Adventures … New York

This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.  ~Marilynne Robinson

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Me & Kyle in Green County hunting… we saw nothing! Yet had fun hanging out with dad a.k.a. pap 12/2/13

As I’ve mentioned it a time or two, we are a family of hunters and recently was our prime season.  Deer season!  Yes, there is more to hunting besides deer, but deer season seems to be the most exciting and gets those not-so-diehard hunters out and about.  It’s really a lot fun!  Not the idea of killing but the idea of family time, getting back to nature and helping to supply the household with good, healthy, natural deer meat for the freezer.  Plus keeping the deer population down to help eliminate bad car accidents as a result of deer.

On Friday, November 15th, Kyle and I drove up to Cortland, New York to meet up with dad, who drove up earlier that morning.  Why did we make the six hour trip?  Deer hunting!  Yes, we got our New York tags in addition to our Green County and Westmoreland County tags in Pennsylvania.  What is really cool about New York, you are allowed to shoot buck and doe on the first day.  As opposed to Pennsylvania, where you are only allowed to hunt buck on Monday till Saturday, then anything brown is down until the season is over.  Well, actually that’s technically not the case.  Depending where one is shooting, some rules state there needs to be two points on one side plus the brow point to be counted legal, and other cases three points on one side, not including the brow.  But if you really want all the details, it’s in the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping book.  Dad’s bible throughout the season.

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The elusive tree stand Cortland, NY 2013

On a side note, I picked up Kyle from school on Friday and we headed out.  About halfway into our trip Kyle mentioned he had to relieve his bladder.  Well, so did I!  We did the thing you do alongside a dark desolate highway, in the mountains, we pulled over and watered the ground.   I let Kyle go first.  He positioned himself between the passenger door and the back passenger door facing a patch of woods.  Great idea!  Once he was done, I had him switch sides with me, while I grabbed a swatch of paper towel and followed suit.  As we proceeded to switch back to our right sides, I joked and said to Kyle, “Watch out, don’t stand where I went to the bathroom.”  as he saw the discarded paper towel on the ground.  No!  I am not typically a litter bug, but this time, with a paper towel, which will disintegrate in a heavy rain, I could live with.  As Kyle walked past my spot of nature, he asked “You wiped up the ground?”  As if he was missing some sort of etiquette.  I about died!  It never dawned on me that he didn’t know, girls take an extra step in the bathroom.  He thought I cleaned up the ground!  I was laughing!  By the time we got home I told mom.  We both lost it and laughed at Kyle’s innocence and ignorance.  LOVE that kid!!

We got up to Cortland late Friday night, about 10:00 pm or so and went straight to bed.  Dad was already sawing logs when we walked in and Kyle pretty much joined him before we arrived.  Love my side kick, but when he’s tired, he’s down!

Then, back up at 3:30 am.  Only dad!  Daylight wasn’t until 6:30 am or so and we were only about a half an hour away from our hunting destination.  Granted, we did need to make our way back to the tree stands, but getting up that early was a bit silly.  Dad was so excited, he was like a kid on Christmas morning.  He truly looks forward to hunting in New York every year, and then to have me and Kyle join him, he was elated!  It was like the old days when Ryan hunted with him.

We stayed and hunted up until Monday, around noon and had a blast every step of the way!

On Saturday, when dad was giving me direction where I was to be stationed, this was how he described it to me.  Keep in mind, I was only ever in a different part of those woods once, never in the area I was to be hunting, and it was pitch black and it was 5:00 am and I had little sleep!  Dad said:

Heather, we’ll all ride the quad back the path and then you’ll get off and walk to your tree stand.  Follow the path to where it bends towards the left about a half a mile or so until it slopes down slightly.  Keep going until you see a log down, about six inches in diameter along the side of the path.  Walk a little further down, there should be a ribbon around a tree.  On the same side is your tree stand.  You’ll see the ground is all tore up where the turkeys were scratching.  Go ahead and get in the tree stand, we’ll be down over the bank from you.  If you think the tree stand is too high and you don’t feel comfortable, then find a place on the ground to sit.  Make sure you get out of the brush.

OK, so let me get this straight, I am suppose to stay to the left, look for a log down in the woods among other trees down and find turkey tracks in the mud, in the pitch black under all the fallen dead leaves and find a black tree stand in the dark?  Right!  I just nodded and said “Alright dad.” thinking in my head, if I don’t find it in the dark, then I’ll find a nice stump and wait till it gets light to see where I’m suppose to be positioned.

Would you believe, I found the tree stand?  Yes!  In fact, it was as if Ryan came down from heaven and tapped me on the shoulder making me look toward the right.  Seriously, that’s what it felt like, to make me all of a sudden turn my flashlight toward the tree containing the deer stand.  No joke!  I totally missed the ribbon, which later I saw very small and kind of obscured.  The tree stand was higher than what I am used to, but it didn’t bother me.  To be honest, it was nice of Larry, dad’s friend who allows us to hunt on the property, to get me set up.

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1st day of deer hunting in Cortland, NY. Perfect early morning view! 2013

The first day was crazy.  Did we see deer?  You bet!  But what really cracked me up, there was about thirty turkeys behind me in the brush having a party.  They were scratching up the ground and gobbling like crazy!  At one point, I turned over my shoulder and I saw a conga line of four more turkeys joining in on the party.  They were making such a ruckus.  I kept thinking there were deer walking around me, but nope, it was the turkey party.  I couldn’t see them through the thick brush, but there was no mistaken.  I must have crashed the turkey party pad.

Now, let’s discuss the angry squirrel.  First, I’d like to state that I don’t care for squirrels, at all!  To me, they are large rodents and not appealing in the slightest.  I have no qualms shooting them during small game season.  Dad loves squirrel potpie, which is okay, not a favorite of mine like deer meat.  Well, me and this squirrel got into it.  Really!  It kept trying to climb up my tree.  I yelled at it saying “No!  You are not coming up my tree.  There is a whole forest of trees to choose from and you can’t join me.”  Apparently, the wrong thing to say, because that squirrel ran up the tree opposite to me, turned to face downward and gave a loud almost scream.  Then, it ran down the tree and across the path back towards my tree, where I slapped my hands on my lap and yelled No!  This situation continued on the same course a few times before the squirrel buckled, gave up and left me a lone.  Alone, with me and my turkey party.  That is until the next day and we went through the same routine again.  You should have heard it scream.  It was like a lady with a high pitch screech!  I’ve never heard anything like it.  It kind took me back.

It’s always an adventure with the Piper clan.  On Sunday morning, …

… to be Continued

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand … Continued

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ~Ephesians 6:4

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Kyle sporting the feature we found while in Cortland, NY setting up a tree stand. How much fan can be had from a single found feature? Those are dad’s earphones when he was running the chainsaw. 8/31/13

With my previous post, I outlined the events that led us to this moment, the reason for this trip.  What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand

As we moved forward, what did my eyes catch sight of?  Yes, the tree stand!  Positioned gloriously against a tree about ten feet off of the ground, dressed in camouflage burlap.  It was at that moment, I heard the angels sing Alleluia, while the sun shined on the stand as if revealing a pot of gold.  We have arrived at our destination.  Now, what did we need to do?  Ah, yes, we needed to take it down, move it up the hill and set it back up again.  Easy enough.  Not really.

Dad, took off up through the brush to scope out a new home for our tree stand.  Kyle took that as an opportunity to climb up and hang out in the elevated platform.   Me? I just stood there swatting mosquitoes until I joined dad to force him to make a quick decision, so we could wrap this adventure up and go take showers.

As I was walking away from Kyle, he yelled “Hey Aunt Heather where are you going?”  I told him to see what his pappy was doing, which was maybe one hundred fifty yards away.  Kyle said, “Wait!  I want to come, but I can’t get down by myself.”  I was cracking up!  He was too afraid to use the ladder to get down, even though he had no trouble getting up, nor playing around while sitting in the tree stand.  I gave him detailed instructions on how to safely exist the landing, but he insisted someone had to help him down.  I left him.  I know that sounds mean, but it was kind of funny and I knew he was probably safer up there than anywhere else.  What’s even funnier, he didn’t seem to mind.  Maybe a little quite time by himself was good for his soul, or not.

The whole time I was talking with dad and helping him pick a new location, Kyle would yell “Hey guys, what are you doing?” and “Hello?” then the eventually annoying “Echo, echo, echo”.  Kyle is seriously a funny kid and he doesn’t even know it.

Once dad found the perfect spot, he said, “Ok, let’s go get our buddy out of the tree and move this stand.”  He asked, “Did he climb up there all by himself?”  Yep.  Dad was pleased with that, that meant Kyle was not afraid and dad could count on Kyle to hunt in the tree stand during deer season.  Whatever!  Let’s get this show on the road.

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Me & Kyle with victorious smiles on our exhausted faces. Tree stand it up! Cortland, NY 8/31/13

Now back to the dreaded tree stand.  I guess I never thought it through, but it dawned on me as I was sitting up, hovering over the ground, looking down into briar bushes, fallen trees and Lord knows what else, that eventually the tree stand would not be secured to the tree anymore.  That is, once I unhinge it, however to do that I needed to be in the tree stand.  What a predicament!  Dad’s reply?  “No, no, you have another one down below and you’ll be partway down the ladder when you loosen that.”  Not really encouraging dad!  Of course, dad’s response to my comment about me falling was, “Well the jagger bushes will catch your fall.”  Nice.

I did manage to loosen some of the straps, but for the life of me, I really couldn’t get them to release.  So I had to send my dad, who is in his sixties and is seriously overweight up the unstable tree stand to finish removing the supports.  I stood at the bottom holding the ladder, along with Kyle, as if that was security.  I turned to Kyle and remarked, “If pappy goes you’re catching him.”  With concern on Kyle’s face he just gave me a grunt and half grin, trying to joke along while realizing the possibility.  I think we were both holding our breath and saying big prayers at this point.

We did manage to release the tree stand from the tree and get dad down safely.  Then, came the heavy lifting.  The tree stand was metal with an attached ladder.  It was heavy!  Especially after all the walking and exertion of getting it down, not to mention the realization of hauling it up a hill about one hundred and fifty yards, through tall brush, briars, unsteady ground, over fallen trees, while being mauled by mosquitoes.  Easy enough.

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Kyle snapped a picture of me getting into the tree stand. Cortland, NY 8/31/13

What was Kyle doing for the better part of this time?  I found out later he was video tapping me in the tree stand.  I’m sure, he was hoping for some action to be caught on tape.  And since that didn’t keep his interest, he continued to play with the feather.

The feature.  We found this feather while walking to get to our destination and it became the focus of our attention during down times.  I used it as a fan to help with the flying pest situation around my head, and to help get some moving air through the stuffy environment.  Kyle too found entertainment in the simple object.  That feature made it the whole way back with us.  Not just out of the woods, or to the motel, the whole way back to good old Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  It was a really neat feather.

Anyway, as we carried this beast of a stand up the hill, we almost passed up our carefully selected tree.  And let me tell you, I felt sick once we got there, as I know dad did.  Sick, as in exhaustion and dehydration.  I even sent Kyle to the quad to get us something to drink, especially dad who had to rest on a log.  That kid started to walk up the hill, (the quad was down the hill maybe fifty feet).  Kyle got lost, not lost that we didn’t know where he was, but he couldn’t find the quad at all!  Even though I pointed in the direction and I could see the lights reflecting from it through the trees.  As we watched Kyle maneuver around while resting, me and dad found that funny and called him back.

Next?  Now we had to get the tree stand up and secured, then we were told we’d be on our way.  It was a bugger getting that thing up, even to just lean it against the tree.  Dad did most of the work.  Once the tree stand was leaning, and somewhat stabilized against the tree, I climbed up in it to fully secure it.

That proved to be a bugger as well.  My arms are only so long, and trying to throw the straps around the tree, which was split, proved to be quite a tough task.  I had to lean out over the tree stand to grab the straps.  Did I mention it was only standing upright because it was leaning on the tree and we were on a light hill?  I told the old man, he better hold onto the ladder, because if I’d go flying and I can’t work, Aunt Nikki won’t be too happy.  He just laughed and said, “O you’ll be alright.  Come on, once we get the straps on, we’re done and we can leave.”  Score!

Kyle-in-Tree-Stand-Cortland-NY-Aunt-Heather-Piper-8-31-13

Kyle made his way up the tree stand & then couldn’t get back down. He enjoyed it up there… Cortland, NY 8/31/13

Eventually, I got the straps around the tree to give the tree stand some stability.  Naturally, I couldn’t tighten the clamps like dad, so dad had to get up there to thoroughly secure the touch points.  He also thought in advance and put another strap for an additional reinforcement.  Evidently, dad was planning on having all three of us in this tree stand. I’m not so sure about that one.  Although, I’m saving that argument for a later date.  I must say, Kyle and I fit comfortably on the seat, side-by-side.

The whole time we were there, dad stared at the newly relocated tree stand sporting a huge grin.  He did cut down a few small trees around it, one of which I thought was going to take down the new addition.  I said, “Dad if that tree would have hit the tree stand and knock it down, I was going to leave.”  Kyle busted out laughing and dad joined in saying, “Yes, I guess that would be our luck.”  Dad kept peeking up at the stand and in his head, laying out the options in which we could shoot deer, depending on how they approached us.  I know he was envisioning herds of  deer running all along the woods below are feet, while all three of us shot down.  This is dad’s candy store.  Nothing makes him happier than shooting, especially with his family.  He kept talking about the size of the deer and the racks on the local bucks.  He kept saying that’s what’s in store for us this hunting season.  Then, he would go off into, how much deer meat we were going to have this winter.  Only dad!

Done?  Not quite yet.  We had to make it back out and since dad initially made his own trail to find the tree stand that was eluding us, he wanted to stick to the established road, clearing it out for deer season.  We found the road pretty easily, but it was seriously overgrown and soggy from all the rain earlier in the week.

It took us as long to get out of the woods as it did to set up the stand, if not longer.  It was a roller coaster ride, back up the slate rock road to an almost vertical climb.  Yes, I was back on the front of the quad, like Kyle white knuckling it.  I felt like I had to seriously lean forward to avoid the whole quad from tipping backwards and crushing all its passengers.

We made it back safely and dad was in such a good mood.  As we were ready to load up the quad, dad did something odd that made me and Kyle both stop and watch.  He drove the quad back nearly a hundred yards to load it on the trailer.  What does he need such a runway for?  At that moment, dad revved the engine and gassed it toward the trailer.  I turned to Kyle and said, “What is pappy planning on doing?  Launching himself over the truck like Evel Knievel?”  Kyle was howling!  Just then dad put the breaks on right at the lip of the trailer and slowly drove it on.  Pap thought he was pretty funny too, my guess is from the look on our faces he did psych us out.

Earlier we saw a turkey and along the way, a bunch of deer tracks.  Dad couldn’t have been happier, spending time with us, especially Kyle and moving his tree stand to what he perceived as the perfect shooting spot.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-with-Feature-Cortland-NY-8-31-13

Now it was my turn to play with the feature. Seriously, how much fun can 1 feature bring? Cortland, NY 8-31-13

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, granted it was around five or six o’clock at this point and we were all beat.  We found a nice little market to get sandwiches and other sustenance, got back to the motel,  showered up, played a few card games with Kyle as well as chess on my iPad, and finished out the night watching back-to-back episodes of Too Cute!

The next morning, pappy slept in till around eight o’clock, which again is unheard of, but Kyle and I played more chess.  On our way back, dad had to stop at his friend Lanny’s house to visit.  Dad hunts on his property every year too.  In fact, dad stays with the elderly gentleman, who is very cordial and hospitable.  I must say, at this point I was getting irritated over dad’s new found relaxed behavior and I wanted to get on the road.

We did make it back about fifteen minutes before we had to get ready to go to late Sunday mass, so I was happy.  Good end, to a surprisingly fun trip.  A trip that I hope we never have to repeat.

Read the first part … What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour.  ~William Blake

Kyle-Cortland-NY-with-Feature-8-31-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

We found this feather in the woods in Cortland, New York. It became the focus of our attention for a while. Kyle was cracking me up! 8/31/13

Dad gets his hunting license not only for Westmoreland County, but also for the surrounding counties and his New York license.  In certain areas, dad has his tree stands set up, keeping them there year-over-year.  Yes, that wasn’t a typo.  Tree stands!  As in plural, meaning more than one.

So what does all this have to do with me?  Let me tell you were I was this past weekend.  In Cortland, New York moving a tree stand.  Why?  Simply, because last year, someone hit a big buck up the hill from where dad was sitting.  Ever since then, dad has been talking about moving his tree stand up the hill.  He believes it would have been his buck if he was positioned at a higher elevation.  Is that a fact?  Not necessarily, but I do trust dad’s hunting sense and his observation.  Previous to that, Dad’s was actually talking about moving the tree stand for a while now, but since the buck incidence, that made up his mind for him.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dad’s not bitter in any way shape or form, for the lucky hunter, not at all.  He’s happy for anyone who gets a deer, especially if it’s a prize.  But he’s had it in his head for a while now to move the stand, pretty much where Larry, a good friend of the family and my mom’s boss at Gutchess Hardwoods, suggested in the first place.  Dad said, “I should have listened to Larry, but I was being so stubborn and had my mind made up.”  Can’t imagine!

Moving a tree stand seems simple enough, not really.  First we had to drive six hours to Cortland, New York to get to the woods where the tree stand was situated.  Then, we had to drive back into the woods, only so far, before all piling on the quad and riding it another couple of miles, before getting out and hiking to the hunting spot.  Yes, somewhere in the 500 acres, was this big metal tree stand attached to a tree.  Did I mention I was the one who had to assemble the beast a few summers back?

Let’s start off with Saturday morning.   I mean morning.  We got up around 3:00 am, and we didn’t leave until 4:30 am.  There used to be a day when dad was up early and started on his day right away.  No sitting around, none of this taking his time, watching the news, finishing his coffee blah blah blah.  Nope!   Dad used to get up, make sure everyone else was up, get dressed and out the door like lightening.  Boy have times changed.  Usually Kyle does pretty good in the am, but this time was a bit different, not that I can blame him, even for me this was a bit early.

Kyle-with-.22-Rifle-Shooting-Range-8-25-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle shooting pap’s .22 rifle at the shooting range. Not a bad shot! 8/31/13

Once we were off, Kyle slept in the backseat of the truck.  He really wasn’t ready to get up and get moving, that is until we made a pit stop at Sheetz.  Naturally, he had donuts on his mind and with his pappy there, he pretty much gets what he wants.  Although as in keeping with tradition, I raced him in and out of the gas station, to and from the truck.  At one point, we both tried to wedge ourselves out of the door and practically got stuck.  Dad saw us and just shook his head and chuckled.

While on the road, once we finally got Kyle up, Kyle and I started to play a game of War.  You know the card game that goes on forever and requires little to no thought.  That game seemed like it was the longest ever played!  Seriously.  Me and Kyle were in amazement because it was never ending.  We kept joking around that we were going to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The drive was pretty uneventful.  It’s actually kind of nice to be up before dawn and watching the day unfold before my eyes.  We passed Beaver Stadium, my sister’s Alma Mater.  We joked around a little and called my mom and my sister to check in.  I was even fine with the Willy Nelson Serious XM radio station on, that is until it stayed on the entire time to and from New York.

Dad cracks me up.  When he had to pee, he just pulled the truck, which was hooked to the trailer containing the quad, onto the side of the road, peed and left.  Back in the day, when I was little, dad NEVER stopped for no one.  Not himself, not my mom and certainly not for his kids.  We had to go before we left and we learned to hold it until we got to our destination.  Granted, we never really traveled for than four or five hours, but regardless that’s how dad traveled.  Come to think of it, that’s probably why I am, the way I am, when traveling.  I never stop, I keep going till I reach my journey’s end.  Now-a-days things are different, very different.  I swear we pulled over every hour!  Every roadside pause gave me and Kyle the giggles.  Then it would start the teasing towards dad.

Dad-spotting-&-Kyle-reloading-8-25-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad was checking the shots with the spotting scope. Kyle was reloading, ready to go again. 8/31/13

At one point, Kyle had to use the restroom, as did I but I can hold it because I knew dad would expect me to go along side of the road.  Fat chance!  Dad pulled over for Kyle, but not just on the side of the road.  He pulled over were they were doing construction.  To reach the side of the road, dad had to weave the truck and the trailer between the cones.  Me and Kyle were dying!  For some reason we thought that was the funniest thing ever!  Keep in mind this is around ten o’clock or so in the morning, along a major highway.  I knew Kyle wouldn’t use natures facility, and I was right.  But what made the situation even funnier, dad drove down the road that was coned off, and as we progressed the cones got closer together.  We were taking bets if dad was going to knock down a row of cones.  Nope!  Didn’t even graze them!

After we checked into our motel room in no-man’s-land we headed to the woods.  The minute we got out, I was attacked by mosquitoes!  Anyone that knows me, knows I am always the first person to take fire from the blood suckers and I usually get it the worst.  My bites always swell and linger for twice as long as most.  Would you believe no one thought to bring bug spray?  Nope!  We were screwed!

After we unloaded the quad, dad had me plant my buttocks on the front rack, while Kyle was seated right behind dad, beside the chainsaw, tools, salt block and extra chainsaw gasoline.  Yes, that was my first reaction too!  What are we cutting down?  The layout of us all situated on the quad was nothing new, we rode like that before for hunting season and I suspected it was going to be that way.  But what I didn’t know is that we had to chuck wood too?  Yes, apparently we had to clear out the roadway back to the tree stand.  This just keeps getting better!

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The Piper outing at the shooting range. Nicole got back into the swing, not a bad shot. Kyle was shooting pretty good & mom shot a couple, but just observed. 8/31/13

The ride to and fro was quite an adventure!  We hit a few pond size mud puddles, which at one point I thought was going to sink us all whole.  Then, let’s talk about the cliff of death.  The trail was pretty wide, wide enough for a full size vehicle.  So naturally one would think we had enough room for a quad.  Well, we did, but dad kept driving along side the brim of the edge, while looking down!  Me and Kyle were hanging on.  I stated, “Dad, they had a ton of rain this week.  You have the entire road, use it!”  Meaning, dad get away from the edge, the ground is soft and could collapse at any minute driving us down over the edge into the heart of the woods.  Even Kyle laughed about that one and was feeling the same way.  When we later recapped the story to mom, Kyle commented on that very scenario.

We did need to hack up a few logs laying across our path, to get through and I had to get off a few times to walk.  I must say it was quite the journey.  The one part of the road seemed like it was a complete vertical shot straight down and the road looked like a miniature Grand Canyon from being washed out.  I was hanging on, trying not to be projected off from the front end.  It was hard!  The road wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

Once dad had me and Kyle on foot, he instructed us to walk up the hill and he followed on the quad.  He even tried to go up a side of a bank and I swear I saw the front end of the quad lift, like it was going to flip.  Me and Kyle just gave each other the look, you know the kind that says, ‘Wow that was a close one.’ or ‘Something bad is going to happen today.’  Then I said, “And you wondered why I brought my phone?”

While on foot, in the hot, humid mosquitoes infested deep woods, we seemed to keep walking on forever.  Like our path was never going to end.  Kyle turned to me and said, “I don’t think pappy knows where he’s going.”  I laughed so hard, I was thinking the same thing!    We kept trucking and following dad on foot.  Did I mention I had a long-sleeved thick hoodie type of top on, zipped up to my neck to protect some of my skin from the pests, and jeans on while I dripped with sweat in the eighty degree weather?  Awesome!

As we zigzagged through the tall brush, dad would stop every now-and-again to cut a few fallen trees.  That is until we came upon vertically intimidating, reaching the top of dad’s head, “jagger” bushes, briars and thick brush.  He actually used the chainsaw to mow down the obstruction!  Me and Kyle watched in amazement.  Then, when he was done, I yelled over, “You didn’t tell me we needed the weed whacker!”  Dad gave me an already tired grin and nod, while me and Kyle found that comment to be pretty darn funny.

Dad even used the quad to knock down small trees and mow down tall brush.  Then, we started to have a field day with that saying, “Does pappy think he’s a bulldozer?” and “We know what to get him for Christmas.”  Kyle said, “Ya, he could use a steam press to flatten our path.”  Very true buddy!  Very true!

Almost there…

To be continued…

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Would There Have Been Death Without A Gun?

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!   ~Darrell Scott

Dad-Aschaffenberg  Germany-1971 Aunt Heather Piper

Dad in Aschaffenberg, Germany with his new pistol before him & mom came home 1971

Guns!  Guns!  Guns!  When in doubt, blame the guns.  At least that’s where the finger seems to point to first, or how the media wants us to respond.  It’s no big secret that I am pro gun, pro sport shooting, pro self protection and pro hunting, as is the rest of my family.  Many agree with me on my opposition of any kind of gun control, and many do not.  That’s fine, I will carry a firearm, while the counter does not.

Having anyone perish by the hand of another human being, while using a gun or not is tragic.  Violence in any form is not healthy and is not something to be celebrated.  Yet, there are times when it is unavoidable, especially when survival instincts take over.  Obviously, I’m referring to the George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case Who Has the Right to Judge?.

George Zimmerman’s gun was perfectly legal.  It was obtained legally, it was kept legally and it was registered legally.  It was even used legally.  When someone threatens death upon you, especially when they’re punching and striking your face and cracking your skull into the cement, resulting in a broken nose, you are within your right to protect yourself.  It’s called self defense.  It’s not a malicious intent, expect to do what our brains are wired to do and that is survive.

Now that the gun law has been brought to light again, I started thinking, ‘Would anyone have died that night on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida if there wasn’t a gun involved?’  Yes!  That’s what’s really scary.  The removal of the gun, doesn’t mean complete safety.  When Trayvon Martin was beating George Zimmerman’s head into the concrete, he could have easily killed him or gave him irreversible physical damage. (not even talking about physiological damage) Does that mean we need to get rid of all sidewalks?  Stop making cement?  Could Mr. Martin have obtained an illegal gun and used it on Mr. Zimmerman?  Sure, especially with a person known to abuse drugs, and we all know that illegal guns and drugs tend to go hand-in-hand.  That wasn’t the case in this particular incident, but it’s a strong reality.

Piper-Cousins-Deer-Hunting-1989-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Chad, Ryan & Jeremy deer hunting. Everyone filled their tags that year! 1989

Anything could be used to kill, a tall building, a kitchen knife, a box cutter!  Granted, guns could be used more efficiently with creating more damage, but not in every case.  A plane was used in 911, killing way more people than an automatic weapon ever was capable of, without the use of a single gun.  We as people are never going to learn unless we start looking and understanding the true source of crime, of destruction, of evil.  I mean the true source, not the easiest or the most popular, but the deepest rooted problems.  The real problems that might be tough to talk about, that might not be able to be fixed overnight and would take time and dedication to solve, the darkest corners.  Yes those problems that never seem to be brought to light.  And I believe it all starts with family and family life.

This thought was best addressed by the person responsible for my lead quote.  I specifically chose him for a reason.  I felt his words needed to be heard again and Darrell Scott really hit the nail on the head and called out the source of the violence and grief, the bottom line, the real issue.

Grandpap-Chester Aunt Heather Piper

Could be my grandpap Chester or his brother, my Uncle Frank during World War II

On April 20, 1999 fifteen students died and many more were injured during the Columbine School Massacre.  Some may not realize that Darrell Scott, the gentlemen I used to quote from, was the father of two of those children who were there that day.  His daughter Rachel Joy Scott was killed.  Did he blame the guns?  Nope!  He did not.  And you might be surprised to find out that he wasn’t a hunter, he didn’t even own a firearm.  In fact, he gave a very powerful statement to a small house subcommittee when taking about the incident.  He spoke of the nature of man,  good verses evil.

He’s right we all have free will, that’s how God made us!  We choose to do right and we choose to do wrong.  Granted sometimes accidents happen and there are misjudgements, but we have to look into our hearts and see the intent.  That’s what makes all the difference, the intent.  A person who intentionally shows the good deeds he’s done is certainly not walking side-by-side with God as another who does good for the sake of doing it, not just for show.  Same goes for the opposite.  George Zimmerman’s intent wasn’t to just start blasting away, and it certainly was not race related.  It was self defense.

Believe it or not, there was a time in history when guns didn’t exist.  And believe it or not, there was still death at the hands of our fellow neighbors.  It’s certainly not the fault of the gun, but solely at the hand of one controlling it.

Dad-Turkey-Hunting-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad turkey hunting…I guess it was a good day! This was before dad quit chewing tobacoo! I see the side chew

Recently, when we had an issue with our dogs Dog Gone Irony!, who ran off and got lost for a couple days, I went hiking through unfamiliar woods trying to locate our delinquents.  Before I set out, I packed my book bag with a few necessities, including my .22 pistol.  Not a large or extremely powerful weapon, yet if needed it would get the job done.  I felt safer, not from people, although if I did encounter a stranger, particularly one without good intentions I was glad I was packing heat, but my immediate concern was animals, specifically bears or mountain lions which have been spotted in the area.  Really my thought was a mama bear and her cubs.  A dangerous encounter that would be scary and could have ended badly.

As I was hiking along, making my way through brush, creeks and trees, I thought, what if I didn’t have access to a gun?  Or worse, what if they were totally outlawed?  Then, basically that decision would take my safety away from me.  It’s not protecting the innocent, the law abiding citizens.  It’s protecting those who turn a blind eye to the law, to what’s right and choose to do harm.

Mom said she saw an interview on TV with a Jewish gentlemen who is pro gun, yet didn’t own a gun, never owned a gun and never even shot a firearm in his life.  Seriously?  Yes!  He said he was pro gun because he was from a time that most may not remember or even know about during World War II.  He commented that one of the first actions set in motion when Hitler started to take power, was to take away all firearms from the Jews.  The Jews couldn’t protect themselves, yet millions died and not all by firearms.

So is gun elimination or even gun control really make us that much better off?  Or does it make us sitting ducks?

 

Below is a portion of Darrell Scott’s transcript:

Since the dawn of creation there has been both good and evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence.

The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA.

I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA — because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies!

Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves.

I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs
Your words are empty air
You’ve stripped away our heritage
You’ve outlawed simple prayer

Now gunshots fill our classrooms
And precious children die
You seek for answers everywhere
And ask the question “Why”?

You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed
And yet you fail to understand
That God is what we need

Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc.

Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence.

And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.

We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre.

The real villain lies within our own hearts.

Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers.

The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched!

We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored.

We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!

As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes — He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right!

I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain.

Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him.

To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!

My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!

Be courageous enough to do what the media did not — let the nation hear this man’s speech. Please send this out to everyone you can!!!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

Happy Birthday Dad! – 62 Years & Counting

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Happy Birthday dad!!  Dad has hit the 62 year mark today!  Believe it or not, I think dad has been hunting and fishing for most of those years, longer than we were around and certainly a lot longer than Kyle has been in existence.  Dad is our very own Grizzly Adams or sometimes I like to refer to him by one of his heroes, Jeremiah Johnson.  Take a few minutes to see the many years of dad.

The upper left corner picture shows mom and dad boarding a bus from Aschaffenburg, Germany for a weekend trip to Holland in the spring 1971.  Dad was still in the army.  Going clockwise, the next picture is dad catching salmon in Michigan.  He said he went there with the Schober boys (family friends).  Below, is a picture of dad with his beloved grandson, Kyle.   That was Kyle’s first Christmas in 2001.  He was five months old sporting his red long underwear that opened up at the rear, similar to a pair dad owns.  Moving to the left, dad was sitting there watching TV or talking to someone, c. 1990.  Mom said the picture was taken during the time period before dad left for Colorado.  He went there to naturally go on a hunting trip for shoot mule deer.  Then, the picture directly above, is dad at Somerset Lake catching a pike, 1971.  Check out the 1966 BelAir Chevy right behind him.

Years-of-dad Aunt Heather Piper

posted by auntheather in Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

First Day of Hunting – My Story

If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting, then the Gods must clearly smile on hunting.  ~Aristotle

Kyle-hunting-with-Legos-Aunt-Heather-Piper-12-1-12

Kyle built his free Lego from LegoFest (he’s a Lego member) while he was “suppose” to be hunting. Good think I kept my eyes peeled! 12/1/12

This past Saturday, after attending the Pittsburgh for LegoFest, Kyle and I went back to my parents house to get in a few hours of hunting before nightfall.

Sitting in the woods reminds me of my first hunting experience ever.  As far as I know, the funniest hunting story known to man, at least in my opinion.  I couldn’t replicate even if I tried.

First, it started many, many years ago at 4:00 in the morning.  Yep, that’s what time dad got everyone up.  I had already taken my hunter’s safety course and I just turned twelve, or around there.  Ryan wasn’t old enough to shoot a deer, but just like years past, he tagged along with dad and helped him gut and haul out the hunted.  Nicole and I had our doe tags and naturally dad had his hunting licenses for several counties.  I don’t think mom got her license that year, but she was certainly apart of the adventure.  We suited up in the required orange outfits and headed out to the woods as a family.

The night before, mom instructed me to pack my lunch so it was ready, we all know I get hungry!  And when I get seriously hungry and don’t feel good, I start to get cranky and thinking straight falls by the wayside.  When it comes to hunting and all of dad’s outdoor activities, he could go all day without eating.  He remains focused, never giving up a minute to do anything but hunt.  Now-a-days dad’s softened up a bit.  That morning, everyone ate breakfast, except me.  It was too early in the morning to eat and I wasn’t hungry yet.  To be honest, I don’t think I was fully awake.  I don’t mind getting up early, in fact I prefer it, but at 4:00 am?  Nope!  Maybe 5:00 or 5:30 but 4:00 was pushing it.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, that was my first mistake of the day.  Not eating breakfast!

On a side note, here I am complaining that I can’t eat because it was too early and there are children starving all over the world.  So shame on me.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those I do not know who are suffering.  Especially those who don’t have such a tight family as mine.

We filed into the truck, five of us and three rifles.  Back then seat belts were not mandatory, at least not reinforced.  To this day I still have no idea where dad took us, some foreign territory that he must have known to have prize size deer roaming around.  Dad always knows all the hot spots to hunt and he has so many friends that let us hunt on their property.  Having a lot of options, dad is very deliberate and methodical about his hunting locations.  Usually before hunting season, dad will wonder around the woods to talk to locals to get a feel for the traffic patterns of the deer and the quality of the beasts.  Like I said, dad is prepared and takes hunting very seriously, he leaves nothing to chance.

Once we got to the place we were going to occupy all day, we unloaded our gear.  Really just shells and rifles.   Dad passed out our rifles to me and Nicole.  I didn’t think anything of mine until we started walking.  Dad had us walking, in the dark, up a logging road for maybe about a mile or so.  That wasn’t the worse part!  My rifle didn’t have a shoulder strap!  What?  As we marched back I saw dad and Nicole carrying their riffles on their shoulders with ease.  What the heck?  Why did I get the rejected rifle?  I asked dad why my rifle didn’t have a shoulder strap and he said it was an antique and it would devalue it.  Basically, in dad’s eyes he was allowing me to shoot his coveted antique rifle.  It was to be an honor.  Me being a twelve year old, up at 4:00 in the morning and hiking up a hill, holding a rifle for a mile was not my idea of special treatment.  I remembered saying something to Nicole, probably trying to trade with her, but she’s not stupid and wouldn’t give up convenience.  I was on my own.  It’s funny when I hear me talk about that, I kind of wonder if I sounded like Kyle, except I never whined as a kid or complained, so maybe not.  Only because dad had a short temper and would have never put up with it like he does for Kyle now-a-days.

Kyle-&-Dad-Mentor-Hunting-10-19-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle & dad… mentor hunting… no action & they were ready for lunch 10/19/12

Finally, we reached our pre-plotted location.  Mom and I planted ourselves on a log and Nicole was up the path somewhat on her own natural furnishing.  I’m sure dad gave her instructions not to shoot down the hill in our direction, just like mom told me what area I was allowed to shoot safely.  Nicole was maybe 200 yards away.  We could see her, but then again we were in the woods, in the middle of winter, with no leaves on the trees, wearing neon orange from head to toe.  I guess she would have been seen by a satellite in space.

By now the sun was rising and shedding light over the ground.  Anyone that has gone hunting knows, it’s kind of exciting first thing in the morning.  You’re totally awake, it’s a fresh day and the anticipated excitement is building.  Mom and I sat on our log and that’s where it all began.

Unknowingly, we didn’t realize the log wasn’t very stable and as we sat, our make shift bench didn’t supply the intended support.  Therefore, the log moved enough to throw us off balance and we both fell backwards on our backs.  We couldn’t help but laugh at our comedy routine.  It was hilarious, even to this day! What makes the entire event ten times better was Nicole’s reaction.  When she heard us laughing, which I’m sure anyone in the vicinity heard our hysterics, Nicole yelled down the road asking what we were laughing at.  My sister, who was nearly 200 yards away, was yelling in the woods to me and mom asking what was so funny?  She did!  That sparked mom and I to continue our fits of giggles, and I mean gut stretching, buckled over laughter!  Then, topping it off, Nicole joined in on our humor by laughing with us!  We had tears falling from our cheeks!  It was too funny!

Well, it took us a while to come down from our laughing high, but we did regain our composure.  Seriously, I was surprised dad didn’t hear us carrying on.  Then, as mom and I sat there on our log, in the quiet woods, we heard a growl.  No it wasn’t an animal, it was my stomach!  At this point, it was around 9:00 am and I was hungry!  To make it worse, every time my stomach growled, I fell back into a fit of giggles.  At first mom didn’t find it amusing, but as my stomach continued moaning in hunger and as it grew louder, this situation became equally as funny as the log rolling incidence earlier.   At one point mom said, “Where’s your lunch?” With my head hanging low, I said, “In the truck.”  In a little bit of shock mom continued with, “Why did you leave it in the truck?”  My logic, “I thought we were coming back to the truck for lunch.  And I didn’t know dad was going to march us the whole way out to Egypt to hunt!”  As I said those words, I realized I should have known better.  Mom shook her head and stated the obvious, “Heather I told you to eat this morning and you know your father.”  It was all true and fairly obvious, but it didn’t change my present situation.

I tried to ignore my stomach and my hunger, but the screams emanating from my empty stomach wouldn’t let me.  By 10:00, or in that time frame my stomach was LOUD!  Even mom, who was laughing along side me, was amazed at the vocal cords of my stomach.  It was ridiculous.  Then, carrying the same tradition from that morning, Nicole, who again was about 200 yards away yelled down to us asking what we were laughing at now.  We lost it and busted into complete silent laughter.  Leave it to mom to keep Nicole in the loop, she yelled up telling Nicole my stomach was growling because I was really hungry.  That made it even funnier!  Then to top off the morning, Nicole yelled back asking why I didn’t just eat my lunch.  We were dying!  That had to be the funniest comment!  Ok, I’m sure to anyone else that wasn’t that humerus, but if you knew my sister and really understood the situation, you’d be dying too.

Shortly after my delirium had taken complete control, I had a glimpse of hope.  The light bulb came on and I yelled up asking Nicole if she brought food.  Notice, it never occurred to any of us to actually walk up to the person to have a conversation, instead we treated the woods like home and just yelled.   I knew it was a long shot, but I was hoping for a miracle.  Denied!  Naturally, I am the only one in the family who gets hungry and needs to eat every hour.  She didn’t have anything to eat and mom already told me she didn’t bring anything either.  I know I was over exaggerating, but I felt like I was going to starve to death in the woods.  I thought ‘This is my end and I’m going out wearing neon orange!’

Would you believe after all that ruckus and not long after we settled down and joined in on the silence of the woods, a deer walked out into the clearing and made its way to the logging road?  Yes!  Was this deer that unobservant?  Who knows but I was on alert.  Show time! I was ready with a loaded rifle.  As the deer walked through the brush, I thought it was a doe.  We were in buck season.  Mom said, don’t make noise there might be other deer around.  As I watched the graceful beast mill around, it made its way to the clearing on the logging road.  What did my eyes see?  Horns!  It was a buck!  Now anyone in this position knows the adrenaline pumping through the veins and the excitement and anticipation of the kill.  My first deer season, my first buck, the first one to get a deer in the family.  So much going on in my head before taking my shot.

Just then, as I brought my rifle up and found the buck in my scope, I took a deep breath before applying pressure to the trigger, feeling the release of the bullet toward my target.  At that exact moment, the deer slid in the mud of the logging road, jumped up, and darted up and over the hill out of sight.  What?  Really?  I literally just stood there in shock.  Did I hit it?  What should I do?  Did that deer really just loose its balance and fall in mud on the same road I was made to hike up?  Unbelievable!  And I was still hungry!  Maybe the deer sensed my hunger and knew I was ready to gnaw on a leg.

I turned to mom for some guidance just as Nicole joined in by yelling, “Did you get it?”.  That’s my sister, never missing a beat!  Mom and I walked down to the sight of the accident and found no blood.  Shortly later dad and Ryan made their appearance.  Dad tracked the trail of the escaped horned beast to find nothing.  Did I hit it?  Who knows.  To this day, I swear I did and mom thinks I didn’t.  I could have hit it in a non-vital area to later bleed out, or not at all.

Kyle-Mentor-Hunting-10-19-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle getting ready for mentor hunting 10/19/12

As we stood there discussing and reliving the moment, mom asked dad if he brought any food with him.  As I was chit chatting with Ryan and Nicole, who by now walked down to our location to join the family, my eyes became focused on something more important.  As dad rummaged through his bag, I was completely distracted by the oversize candy bars surfacing in his hands!  Yes! I felt like I struck gold!  Food!  Dad asked me where my lunch was, as I hung my head low again for not planning better while I told him.  He rolled his eyes and didn’t comment.  Without hesitation, I devoured those candy bars in seconds and was happy and ready for a nap.    This is my segue to the events of the afternoon.  Remember, everything outlined above was just the morning.  We are now around lunch time.

All three of us went back to manning our posts, while dad and Ryan went back to pushing deer our way.  After all the fun and excitement of the morning, the afternoon started to move slowly, meaning my attention span went back to zero.

Perfect example, Mom leaned over to me and said she had to relieve her bladder and I was suppose to man the post.  No problem!  As mom dropped her pants and was going to do her business, I found a flat rock to lay on, as I watched the fluffy white clouds float past in the brilliantly blue sky.  To this day, I remember thinking to myself, ‘What a pretty day!’ before I was completely startled.  A man walked right up to me and was staring down, upon my upward gazing face.  Without hesitation, I jumped up!  Being so lost in my thoughts, I didn’t hear him or even sensed he was there.  Neither did mom, who’s back was to us as she jumped up trying to quickly adjust her cloths.  He was just a hunter passing by and wanted to see if we saw any deer or had any luck.  After he left all mom said was, “Thanks!” in the most sarcastic tone.  I guess she was literally caught with her pants down!

Let’s not forget, Nicole yelled down to us and asked what happened and what we were talking about.  It didn’t help I was laughing over our embarrassing encounter but Nicole yelling made it even better!

As the day stretched out, my eyelids became very heavy.  It didn’t help that mom made a cozy seat in the leaves leaning up against our trusty log.  It so temping to lean on mom and snuggle in her coat and let the sand man make a visit that I didn’t even bother to resist.  Believe it or not, that was one of my best naps ever!  That is until I got startled again by another human figure.  This one was no stranger, it was dad and Ryan checking up on us.  Needless to say he wasn’t really happy with our hunting skills, “It’s kind of hard to watch out for deer with your eyelids closed!” he spat.  A little groggy, we both jumped up as if trying to play it off like we weren’t sleeping or we just fell asleep. Dad wasn’t buying it!  Ryan just laughed at us.

Soon nightfall hit and we exited the woods the same as we entered without a deer.  I may have confused some events from the afternoon with the year after, but regardless, it was worth telling my hunting experience.  God Speed to all hunters!

Read other adventures in Hunting

Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer
Hunter’s Safety Course – Passed!
Hunting – Survival or Sport?
First Day of Hunting- Kyle’s Story

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer

Hey, I’m a Catholic deer hunter, I am happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion.  ~Paul Ryan

Kyle-&-Dad-Mentor-Hunting-with-deer-10-19-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle & Dad with Kyle’s first deer during mentor hunting 10/19/12

This past Thursday through Saturday was the season of the deer hunter, mentor hunting to be exact.  That means a child who is not old enough to hunt has the opportunity to go with a licensed hunter and shoot a doe.  Now the season also extends for fall turkey and such, but we took Kyle on a deer hunting experience.  Dad and I requested off of work on Friday, and Kyle took a vacation day from school, figuring this would double Kyle’s chances of getting a deer, giving him two full opportunities to take down a doe.  Surprisingly Kyle wrapped it up on Friday, a few hours before dark.  Kyle went with dad last mentor hunting Hunting – Survival or Sport?, except this year, Kyle finished the season with his mission accomplished!

This little hunting adventure has been planned since last year, although dad could never have drafted how the events would unfold.  To aid in the experience and help set the example, I too got my hunting license.  This was first time since I was in my early teens.  Yikes!  That was a while back but I’ll digress.  My job in dad’s ‘deer hunter experience’ turned out to be pushing deer.  Perfect!  I did volunteer for the job but one can never tell what dad has planned.  Since, I really truly enjoy walking through the woods and getting out in the fresh air this was a win win for everyone!

Boy did dad have it all outlined, and I mean down to the detail.  Of course, when it comes to deer hunting I should expect nothing less from him.  During the first half of the day, my only responsibility was to stick to dad’s directions of how I was to maneuver around the local terrain, and make sure I packed enough snacks with me to sustain my stomach.  Everyone knows I am miserable when I’m hungry.  When you hunt with dad, that means waking up very early, well before sunrise, going all day until a deer is shot or a until the sun is completely set.  So unlike the first time I went hunting, I was prepared for the day.

Kyle-with-first-deer-10-19-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s first deer, a button buck during mentor hunting 10/19/12

Dad’s game plan was to have him and Kyle perch themselves by the cabin above the house, while I traipsed through the side of the ridge walking in their direction pushing deer.  Simple enough!  I was instructed to walk slowly and every once-in-a-while hit a tree trunk with a stick.  Got it!  I was not suppose to spook the deer,  just get them moving in the northeast direction.  Simple enough?  Kinda.  First of all, it’s been a while since I was on that side of the ridge in the woods.  As kids we were no stranger, but not so much now-a-days and it only takes a years of absence for the woods to take on a different shape.  I started out pretty confident, which came to a screeching halt when I found myself stuck in some thick brush.  Please keep in mind this is my own personal mission and failure was not an option.  I redeemed myself when I came face-to-face with three doe, or so I thought.  Yep they were doe alright, but I don’t think I moved them in the right direction!  Curiously enough, I came between 25 feet and 50 feet from the targets!  That’s what makes the woods exciting, especially hunting.

Ok, so now I was full of enthusiasm and the objective of our mission was milling around in front of me.  I wanted to let dad and Kyle know to keep their eyes peeled, so I texted them.  No response.  So I called them. Nothing.  Then I thought, I’ll just call my sister, she was in Boston for work and I wasn’t able to talk to her all week and I wanted to share my excitement with her.  As I was whispering into the phone,  I had to laugh because Nicole was whispering back to me.  That was too funny!  After we hung up, I decided to call mom at work to see why dad wasn’t answering his phone.  Keep in mind, this is all happening while I was slowly moving the deer in what I thought was the right direction, only later to find out I was too far down the hill.  Let’s get real, deer can’t completely be predicted and I wasn’t a sheep dog.  Anyway, mom solved the riddle, I later on found out, that dad didn’t have his phone on him.  She did laugh at me and said in a common sense tone, “Dad doesn’t know how to text, he doesn’t know how to do anything on his phone except make a call and answer it.”  That comment was also confirmed by dad later on in the day, when he said, “Don’t text, I don’t do that texting s#@t.  Just call!”

During all this time of making phone calls, I was also Twittering my adventures and responding to Facebook.  I couldn’t help myself, I am a child of the electronic age and this was exciting.  My friend Kelly responded back saying I was the first hunter with play by play tweets from the woods!  That was hilarious!

After the first push didn’t bring us a kill, dad sent me down to move up the opposite side of the ridge.  While that path was simpler in terms of less brush, it certainly worked my buttock muscles with the hills and valleys.  I actually like that side better, I was more familiar with it.  Once I met up with Kyle and dad, they didn’t have any luck seeing anything, neither did I.  Not even tracks.  Lucky for Kyle I had my satchel containing some fruit and snacks.  As he sat on his log, he mentioned he forgot his food back at the quad. Now that brought a smile to my face.  I did the same thing on my first hunting trip.  I’m glad I could save the day with Oreo cookies.  All three of us snacked on them until they were done before dad made the decision to move on.  After a while we went back to the house for lunch, very uncharacteristic for my dad, but I guess the man’s getting old.  After lunch we went out to a friends farm to try out luck there.  I also forgot to mention the dogs got out early in the morning and were on the run.  I do believe that messed up our game plan, they spooked the deer.

Sitting in a field on the edge of woods was pretty uneventful, and I mean completely uneventful.  Boring actually.  I didn’t have anything to do but sit there and watch the woods for deer.  Not fun in my book, but I wanted to help Kyle out with his first deer so I tried my hardest to focus and stay on task.  This experience was all Kyle and dad talked about for weeks.  Even when we went to the grocery store on Thursday night, Kyle picked up a few sweets which he referred to as his ‘victory’ desserts.  Yep he was determined to get a deer.

Instagram Aunt Heather PiperBefore we started to walk down to our vantage point, Kyle grabbed his thermoses of water, hot chocolate and his sandwich.  Not his coat, orange vest or rifle.  He looked like a little old man packing for a camping trip for a month.  It wasn’t cold out, in fact it was a sunny blue day that may have reached the 60’s.  The best quote I’ve heard in a long time came from dad in response to Kyle’s actions.  He said, “Kyle are you gonna grab your rifle or are you planning on clubbing the deer with corn?”  I died laughing, it was too funny.  Kyle laughed to, but dad didn’t join in.  After all he still means business and he really wanted to see Kyle get a deer.

As we sat in the field, watching the tree line, I couldn’t help but notice all these birds flying over our heads from one tree to another across the distance of the field.  There were literally thousands of them making fun artsy shapes in the beautiful white cloud decorated sky.  Once I got past the graceful patterns displayed above our heads and the uniformed travel patterns, I leaned over to Kyle and said, “If a bird craps on me, I’m leaving.”  He started to laugh!  I almost wish I would have never said anything because then Kyle’s attention was taken off of playing with the grass and moved overhead.  We were both suppose to be watching for deer.  Ok maybe me and Kyle more alike than I realize.  At one point we started to get the giggles.  I couldn’t help myself and I’m sure dad was ready to loose his patience.

Dad kept reassuring us that any time now the deer should be out-and-about.  Just then the moment we’ve all been waiting for…a doe in the distance.  Actually it was on my right side, less than 100 yards from us.  As I poked Kyle he responded by saying, “What?  What Aunt Heather?”, as he looked around thinking I was referring to something else.  Now that caused me to roll my eyes.  Then I motioned for Kyle to poke my dad to get his attention.  As Kyle did so, dad’s hunting instincts were in high gear as looked over and saw the deer pretty much immediately.  He gave a reassuring nod as I slowly crawled out of the way.  I could have laid down and covered my ears while Kyle shot over me, but it would have made him nervous and there was no need, the deer was just grazing along.

At first Kyle was going to free hand the shot, but dad stood up and helped to move his tripod stand to make it easier on him.  Again the deer was didn’t really notice us at first and when it did we remained still until it looked away and continued feeding.  It took Kyle what seemed like an hour to make the shot, but when he did it was a hit.  I’ll give Kyle credit, he didn’t panic and wasn’t too quick to pull the trigger.

Kyles deer instagram Aunt Heather PiperAfter the bullet launched itself into the ribs of the deer, it did the typical buck and jump before heading straight towards me.  What?  I’ve never had a deer charge me.  I didn’t know what to do!  All I thought  was, “I’m going to be run over by a deer!  I’m going to walk out of here with hoof prints on my face!”  Just before the deer reached me, I pulled my hands up over my face, which spooked the injured disoriented deer and caused him to run up the hill.  I say he because later we found out it was a button buck, less than three inches, perfectly legal.  Kyle said, “I thought it was mad at us for shooting at him and it decided to charge us!”  Now that was a funny thought!  I told Kyle, “There fora minute I thought you were going to sing ‘Aunt Heather got run over by a reindeer’!”  We laughed at our silliness.

Now began the hunt for the wounded.  We began tracking the blood trail up through the corn field and lost track of the blood in the open hay field.  Kyle was the first to spot the blood, even before dad.  Good eye buddy!  After we came out on the other side of the corn, dad went one way and I went the other.  Kyle was torn of what he was suppose to do, so he followed dad.  In no time at all, Kyle came running around the corn and was yelling for me.  He said, “Aunt Heather where are you?  Pappy found the deer and it’s dead!  Hurry come this way!”  He was all panting and excited.  I followed Kyle to his first deer kill.  Last year he shot at a deer, but we never did find it after tracking it through the woods.

Now begins the really funny part of the story.  As history dictates, I wanted to get a picture with Kyle and his deer.  Although he was a bit apprehensive of touching the deceased beast.  Once we got past that, it was time to gut the animal.  Dad pulled out a deer knife and began cleaning off the blade, he said, “I haven’t cleaned this blade since your daddy killed his last deer.”  Wow that had to be over 11 years ago.  I didn’t ask, but I thought that knife was Ryan’s.

Dad was elated with joy and complete pride for Kyle!  Well, that was quickly put aside when Kyle leaned over the dead animal and said, “OO it smells like death!”  I started laughing, not realizing how serious his comment was.  As soon as dad started to gut the deer, which I’ve seen more times than I can count, Kyle turned himself away from us in the field and started to dry heave.  Dad rolled his eyes in frustration while I fell over laughing.  I truly couldn’t help myself even though he was upset over his sensitive stomach.  Kyle kept reiterating, “Sorry I just can’t stand the smell.”  I really don’t think it was the sight of the blood, but more the smell.

Hunting Twitter Aunt Heather PiperAt one point, I was poking the stomach and Kyle looked like he was so grossed out he couldn’t take it.  By now dad and I both had blood soaked hands and Kyle got a little on him.  You would have thought he was doused in it the way he freaked out.

After most of the prep work was completed, to transport the deer back home, dad turned to Kyle and said, “You’re not done yep, I’m going to show you how to cut out the heart.”  Kyle about turned green and backed away.  Then, he proceeded to sit himself in the truck and wait there while we loaded the deer.

Kyle was fine with the carcase after dad and I skinned it and rinsed it out.  He even helped to cut up the steaks for dinner on Saturday night.  The entire way through dinner dad kept saying, “This deer tastes like it has been eating corn!”  It was cute, dad and Kyle were proud of his kill.  Not to mention Kyle literally put food on the table for dinner that night.

You know what?  Dad’s right the fresh steak does taste better.  Nice lean meat.  Way to go Kyle!  Congratulations!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments
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