Dealing With Loss

What we remember from childhood we remember forever – permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.  ~Cynthia Ozick

Honestly, I’ve been toying around with this blog idea since last week.  The Aunt Heather blog may come from my perspective, but the stories are really for Kyle.  These accounts of Kyle’s life from my point-of-view are more important now than ever.  Since Kyle’s fully embraced his teenage years, I’ve seen less of him.  I always want Kyle to know how important he is, and not having him by my side is my own personal loss.

It is with a very heavy heart I talk about Kyle’s friend, fifteen year old Nick Ursiny.  He passed away last Sunday, June 19, 2016 from an accidental gun shot wound to the head.  The incidence happened on Friday, June 17th around 5:00 pm.

Kyle called on Sunday to tell us he was going to the hospital to visit his friend, that’s when we heard the news,  Shortly after speaking with Kyle, we received the news Nick passed away.  I spoke to Kyle on the phone, and naturally he seemed a little distraught.  I could heard the tears swelling in his eyes, which instantly broke my heart.  Not only for the pain Kyle was facing, and at such a young age, but for the family and all of Nick’s friends.

When I heard about the incidence, it really hit home with me.  My family target shoots pretty frequently, for fun and in preparation for hunting season, and Kyle’s been apart of that tradition since he was a little tyke.  My heart broke for Kyle, yes because of a tragic loss of his friend, but also because of Kyle’s reality.  Unlike some, he knows the sound, the smell, the feel of a fired weapon.  He knows first hand the damage it does, at least with respect to hunting.  Kyle’s awareness of this accident is so much more acute than many of his fellow students, those who have never fired a weapon.  I couldn’t imagine dealing with that situation, and the complete grief and feeling of accountability.

These thoughts have been rushing through me all week.  It’s weird how that depression from a very real experience of loss creeps back, and settles into your soul, even when you’re not completely aware.

Nick was in Kyle’s class and he was also a member of the band.  Even during my chaperoning experiences, I personally didn’t know Nick, nor his family, but I know the helplessness and sorrow that’s overcome them.  And worse, I know the road they’ll be facing and the healing process, which does not get easier as time passes, they”ll only learn to adjust.

The band visited the funeral home last night as a group.  I did reach out to Kyle and ask if he wanted me to go to support him.  His text response?  “I’m fine.”  Okay.  I know everyone handles grief in their own way, and I respect that.  I was still going to go, but I wanted to give Kyle his space, and let’s face it, that would have been hard even for the toughest of people.  Instead, my thoughts and prayers were focused on that family and Nick.

Accidents do happen, no matter how minor or major, even though you try to avoid them.  It’s such a shame, this accident cost the life of such a young promising person.  If anything else, I hope children and adults alike, learn from this story and are more careful.  I don’t know the details behind the accident, but addressing safety is always a good practice.

God speed to Nick’s friends and family.  Rest in peace Nick!

I grabbed a few screen captures of online stories, for reference.

Full Obit Aunt Heather Piper June 2016

Kiski Facebook post Aunt Heather Piper

News Article Aunt Heather Piper 6-18-16

News Aunt Heather Piper 6-20-16News Article Aunt Heather Piper 6-20-16

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

Happy Birthday Dad! – 65 Years Strong

Years fly by, but the heart stays in the same place.  ~Harlan Coben

Happy Birthday Dad! January 16, 1951

Dad U Sonny 10-1956 Aunt Heather Piper

Dad & Uncle Sonny, I think on a school field trip. 10/1956

I’m well aware Dad despises me talking about him online, not that he ever reads anything I write.  Why?  Because the old man’s never touched a computer in his life, let alone knows how to use a search engine. (He’s never even used an ATM machine.)  So how does he know I talk about him online?  I’m usually ratted out by people who read my blog and follow my social media sites, usually my Mom.  However, since Dad’s getting up there in years, he needs to have each and every year recognized and recorded, at the very least for Kyle to remember his dear old Pap.  My rule when reading my blog: read it to enjoy but never tell Dad where you heard the stories about him, or even those of Kyle.

Anyway, Dad added another year to his resume.  What’s been going on with my retiree?  Not much, he’s loving his simple life on the ridge.  His typical day consists of hanging with the dogs, Seven and Scooby, sneaking in a nap or two, sometimes cutting firewood or doing yard work, and visiting his ladies at least four times a day.

Ladies?  Who are the ladies?  That’s what Dad calls his chickens, which totally cracks me up!  He loves those birds.  Recently, they started laying eggs, which has now become the big excitement of each day.  No joke!

Sure, I still help Dad with our hobbies.  We have our honey bees, and up until this past fall, we were raising turkeys, who are now tucked away in the freezer.  Summer always brings a renewed interest in fishing and trapping snapping turtle, too.

Is Dad still hunting?  You bet!  In fact, he took the muzzle-loader out this year, and he participated in the senior citizen season.  Time for a true funny story.  Late October is the youth hunt or mentor hunting, coincidentally it’s also senior citizen hunting, prior to the standard deer season.  Every time I heard Dad recount this past hunting season with anyone, he talked about the youth hunt.  He always called it the youth hunt, not the senior citizen hunt.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, gave Dad a very inquisitive confused look when Dad, an old man, talked about hunting during the “youth hunt”.  In Dad’s head he knew he was legal, but most people were taken back by the term “youth hunt” in reference to Dad hunting.

Nowadays, Dad’s interested in purchasing a crossbow for archery season.  I’m okay with that!  Seriously, whatever keeps him active and happy.  He was even trying to nudge Mom (Gigi) back into hunting, to get her moving around since she too is retired as of the first of the year.  Personally, I think Dad has a better chance of shooting a 24 point, with an arrow that ricocheted off of a tree trunk, and a large rock before hitting the buck directly in the lungs, dropping it immediately.  Could happen, but highly unlikely.

What did we do today?  We butchered a 620 pound pig.  Seriously?  Yes!  Only in the Piper household.  Dad should have been a butcher for he loves harvesting his own meat.  Kyle even came over early to spend the weekend, although he passed on helping with the pig.  Instead, Kyle assisted me in making his pappy a pound cake.  We spent the day together, and had a really nice time.

Happy birthday old man!  I hope you keep going for another 60 years.

posted by auntheather in Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Pets 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!

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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

Hunting: Our Pennsylvania Adventures

One day might be different from another, but there ain’t much difference when they’re put together.  ~William H. Armstrong

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While hunting in New York with dad, I couldn’t help but capture the view from my seat. Perhaps Ryan was joining us? 11/2014

It’s official, hunting  season for deer with a rifle in Pennsylvania is over, at least for the year.  No, hunting is not done, archery and muzzle loader for deer come back after Christmas.  After then starts small game season and spring gobbler, but the big hunting event of the year, the one that only lasts for two weeks, has come to an end.  Was it a good year?  You bet it was, in more ways than one!  God blessed us with a good harvest and great family time in nature.

Besides hunting in New York Hunting: Our New York Adventure, dad, Kyle and myself had fun and were able to harvest several deer for canning and some meat for the freezer, to be consumed for dinner in the near future.  Even though Kyle and I didn’t get a single deer in Pennsylvania, dad filled his doe tags and added to our stockpile of meat.

The best part of hunting?  Yep, hanging with dad and Kyle and getting out in nature!  I must admit, I missed Kyle being with us in New York, but he made up for it on the first day of buck, which was Monday, December 1st, plus this past Saturday and the one prior.  It’s always an adventure with the Piper family, double when Kyle is involved!

There are so many funnies, I seriously can’t remember them all, but here are a few for the records.

Something that started in New York, but I forgot to mention it, was dad and his smarties.  My dad LOVES those small pellets of sugar that come in clear plastic packaging.  If those aren’t available then he settles for sweet tarts.  This year, he kept stocking up on the rolls of Wonka Sweet Tarts.

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Dad loves his Wonka Sweet Tarts! He claims they bring in the big deer during hunting season… too funny!

While in New York, I was sitting in our tree stand with dad watching out for deer.  All of a sudden I heard the subtle tearing of paper?  I turned my heard toward dad to see him carefully tearing his candy roll as to not drop a single sweet tart.  After he popped in a colorful disc, he leaned into to me with a serious face and said, “These will help bring in the big deer.”  I started cracking up!  During the day when things got slow, dad would pull out his sweet tarts and reiterate, “The deer like these, they’ll come now.”  Very unlike dad in the woods, joking around, but it was funny!  I mean we weren’t dancing around, but those comments cracked me up, not to mention, my dad, a big lumberjack type of guy, tearing at his Wonka candy with precision was hilarious!

Now back to Pennsylvania.  By now, dad was fully addicted to his Wonka Sweet Tarts.  That Wednesday, after the first day of buck, dad and I sat together in the woods.  We never did see anything, but it wasn’t due to a lack of sweet tarts.  Dad did the same thing, unrolled his paper to release a colorful disc when there was no signs of deer.  I even joined him, popping a few colorful candies to pass the time.  At one point, dad almost knocked me off my chair, he nodded at me to look in his direction.  Just then, dad unzipped his vest and pulled the fabric back to expose his top shirt pocket.  There were two more rolls of those darn sweet tarts sticking out of his pocket!  He showed me his candy with a straight face, like a gangster was showing his pistol.  I actually laughed-out-loud!  Dad and that candy was totally silly!  After that, the Wonka candy became part of our checklist before entering the woods: rifle, check; shells, check; deer tags, check; candy, check.  Kyle got a kick out of me telling him about his pap and the new “deer lure”.

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Down the hill from our hunting location in Indiana, Pennsylvania. 12/2014

I can make anything into an adventure, even by myself.  On Saturday, December 6th, the first day of doe, I made my way down to my spot, marked with orange ribbons, placed by dad a week prior to hunting season.  The same spot I sat for the first day of buck.  It was a soggy Saturday, raining ALL night into the next morning and continuing ALL day.  I chose my tree and pulled out my portable seat.  It was the kind that folds up, like a directors chair, only smaller.  I placed it in position and pushed it firmly into the saturated muddy ground.  The chair was strategically placed in front of a fallen log, so if I needed to shoot off of it, I could.  Great!  I was facing a couple deer paths and ready to go, or so I thought.  As I sat my bottom down on my portable stool with a metal frame and a fabric seat, I began sinking and sinking and sinking.  Initially, I thought the gravitational pull would cease, and the ground wouldn’t swallow me up whole, and that I would be secured momentarily.  Wrong!  I continued to sink until I was laying flat on my back with my rifle laying over my chest.  What?  It seriously all happened in slow motion and I was completely dumbfounded.

After a moment or two passed, and the shock of me spread out on the floor of the woods became clear in my mind, I jumped up to examine the scene.  The fabric on the chair ripped, sending the metal sides to flatten out, since there was no fabric to hold them together, allowing me to meet the ground.  Standing in the rain looking down at my flattened seat, I just laughed and laughed, almost thankful no one was around.  Although, I wouldn’t have minded someone joining me in the humor of the situation.

So what did I do?  I folded the seat back up, almost meeting the metal framework together, and forcefully ramming the legs of the stool into the muddy ground till it was secured.  Simply, I sat on the metal frame projected from the ground.  Not comfortable, yet not entirely uncomfortable.  I didn’t care, after all it was already less than favorable hunting conditions with constant rain, which never let up.

Naturally, that’s the one day I got to see something, and I missed at the doe.  As I was trying to see the deer in my fogged up scope with rain falling down my face, a big rain drop hit my scope with a pitch perfect “tinking” sound that seemed to echo for miles around.  Before the echos could travel far, the doe was getting ready to run and “hightail” it out of there, not that I blame her.  All the deer in the area were already spooked, so I quickly took a shot… and missed!  She didn’t stick around for me to reload and took off down the hill into the brush.  It happened very quickly, with low visibility on my part.  Dang!  It happens.

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Near the lake, down the hill from our hunting spot. I couldn’t resist checking it out while pushing deer for dad. 12/2014

Another funny… the same day, I was wearing a camouflaged rain coat with a thin bright orange vest and an orange baseball cap.  I know, what a sight!  Dad had on similar clothing to try and keep as dry as possible.  Kyle on the other hand, was dressed in a bright orange poncho, as to not be mistaken in the foggy rainy woods for something other than a pre-teen.  After all, no one would get close enough to hear him whine, or munch on food and determine the mystery figure was indeed Kyle.  Dad kept calling him the Ninja Turtle.  That’s comical!  The whole ride back and the week until this past weekend, Kyle was referred to as the Ninja Turtle.  Sometimes dad comes up with good ones!

By 1:00 pm, we were all ready to call it a day.  Even with our ponchos on, we were soaked to the bone and cold.  The temperature was just warm enough to bring rain, yet cold enough to chill the body.  We left without a deer, but I had some excitement.

This past Saturday, the last day of hunting season, I did see a few deer, but was not able to get a shot.  One deer only showed the top of its ears and tail, too much brush to find the body, let along shoot through that mess.  It does make it exciting, to see anything, even if a shot isn’t taken.

During the day I called dad to check in on him and Kyle, they were at a nearby location in a ladder stand.  As I was talking, in low tones, dad responded, “I can’t really hear you, someone is chomping on trail mix in my ear.”  Obviously referring to Kyle.  I could tell, they both had enough.  It was pretty cold and I bet the wind off of the lake, hit them hard in their stand.

Eventually, Kyle convinced dad he was too cold to hunt anymore.  This time it was about 1:30 pm.  Only Kyle can work his pap over to leave the woods early on the last day of hunting, without dad getting his buck.

On the ride back, dad and Kyle told me what they saw in the woods.  Deer right?  Nope.  They saw a small hawk swoop down from the sky and grab a hold of a bluejay passing by.  Both birds dropped to the ground and were wrestling.  Kyle said the bluejay was screaming and squawking, but the hawk had a good grip on its victim.  Dad said, “I thought that bluejay was a gonner.”  It must have been an exciting sight, for Kyle and dad were consumed with the intensity of the situation while telling the story.  Then, Kyle gleefully piped up saying, “Ya, and then all of a sudden the bluejay flew away and the hawk sat above us, watching us”.  Dad added, “I don’t know how it got away, but the hawk wasn’t much bigger than the bluejay.”  Kyle was nodding in agreement and repeated, “That hawk sat above us and watched us.”  I started laughing and added, “Boy he had a big appetite, maybe he was eying YOU up Kyle.”  Kyle just grinned as he reiterated the story with added details and gusto.

While pulling into mom and dad’s driveway what did we see?  Not a buck, but a few does in my Uncle Walter’s field. I called out my finding to dad, who was driving.  Before the words were fully out of my mouth, the truck stopped immediately, dad jumped out, loaded his rifle and scanned for deer.  Kyle and I were still sitting in the truck.  Kyle looked at me with wide eyes saying, “Wow!  I’ve never seen pappy move that fast!  I didn’t know he could load his gun that fast!”  I just smiled for I’ve seen that swiftness many times before.  Kyle was amazed.

At the position dad was standing he couldn’t see the deer.  I took that as my cue to comment to Kyle, “What does pappy need us to draw him a map?”  Eventually dad saw his target, lined up his sights, took aim and shot the doe, about a hundred yards away!  Great shot in the front shoulder, but that didn’t bring it down right away, unbeknownst to us at the time.

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Another view down the hill from our hunting location in Indiana, Pennsylvania. While pushing deer for dad, I traveled closer to the water for a better look… not that I thought I’d find deer walking on water… 12/2014

Seeing more does, Kyle and I grabbed our rifles creeped around the small patch of woods in the field hoping to get a shot at our very own doe.  What we found, surprised us both.

Dad’s deer popped up in the field, nearly twenty feet away from us, and ran across the field.  She scared us both!  Kyle was quick to pull up his rifle to shoot and drop the injured doe, however I stopped him.  Why?  He was standing at least a few feet behind me to the side.  I completely trust my little man, and he is a good shot, but I don’t want him to get in that habit, it’s not safe.  In all the excitement, I did explain my reasoning for stopping him.  He understood, but was focused on the area the doe eventually dropped in.  Kyle moved down the hill like lightening, by now dad was on his quad fast approaching us.  Kyle moved in the direction of the injured deer and shot.  Unfortunately, he shot her in the body, through the guts, when I told him to shoot her in the head to put her out of her misery, quickly.  Kyle told me, “I saw her head in my scope.”  Well, that’s not where you shot, but that’s ok buddy, good practice with free hand.

While all three of us came up on the deer, dad and I noticed she was still kind of alive.  Yikes!  I told Kyle, who had his rifle out and ready to fire, to shoot her in the head.  He looked at me and told me to do the deed.  I could tell he felt bad for the doe and couldn’t do it.  Me, on the other hand, I will absolutely shoot any animal in the head to avoid suffering.  I borrowed Kyle’s .243 and brought the brave animal to peace.  It was an exciting end to a pretty boring day.  Dad and Kyle saw nothing for the duration of the last day, until we came home.

Personally, I’m very happy to know Kyle is fully aware where the meat we consume comes from, and he is capable of survival.  I am also very happy to see he has such a tender heart and didn’t like to see the deer suffer.  He knows he can always count on me and his pap to help him out.  He trusted us to do the right thing and fix the situation.

Overall, it was a great harvest!  Now it’s time to put away the rifles until target shooting in the summer.

On a side note, while butchering the doe dad shot, Kyle responded, “It’s a good thing I got cold and came back early, huh pap?”  He felt bad for wanting to leave early and was trying to justify his actions.  Little does Kyle know, my dad would NEVER have that kid sit there with cold feet, even on the last day of hunting.  Kyle is worth more to us than any doe or buck!

Another note, while butchering the deer, Kyle busted into Christmas songs playing on the radio.  He is such a great guy!  I love hanging out with him!

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

Hunting: Our New York Adventure

You know, one of the tragedies of real life is that there is no background music.  ~Annie Proulx

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Kyle at the shooting range with his .22. Kyle’s not a bad shot! 8/25/12

It never fails, my life is an adventure.  Sometimes it brings a smile, or in the case of my dad, it causes a lot of eye rolling.  This past weekend, dad and I were in Cortland, New York hunting.  We left early last Friday (only after we finally remembered to pack everything and had to turn around in Derry, and right before that, Seven and Scooby took off for a jaunt in the woods).  The first day of rifle season was Saturday.

As I’ve mentioned before, the New York hunting rules are slightly different from Pennsylvania’s.  Example, we are allowed to fill our tags with a buck and a doe starting at sunrise on Saturday, the season includes Sundays, and lasts for three weeks.

We arrived Friday mid-afternoon and met Larry, for all intents purposes he was the orchestrator of the hunters.  I was also given the honor of meeting sergeant Mike Bennett.  He’s a wounded warrior from northern New York, who served in the Afghanistan conflict and was a part of our hunting group.  Larry showed us our new hunting spot, and we rode the quads around a bit to get acclimated, seeing five doe on the way.

That night, all the hunters gathered around the campfire on the edge of the woods to finalize the game plans for the next day, and to enjoy idle conversation and socialization.

Dad and I got up early Saturday morning, about 4:30 am, got ready and headed for the woods, riding the quad to our tree stand.  We were on the opposite end of the woods, compared to last year; a really nice spot, with rows of trees, a few trails and a logging road, near a few patches of pines and up the hill from a crab apple section.  In theory, and later on in reality, a great spot!  Actually, I preferred dad hunt in this area, only because getting to it was not such a roller coaster ride and less dangerous for the old man, again compared to his other tree stand.  It was even closer to the truck, pretty ideal. Our Hunting Adventures … New York Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

Waking up to about a half inch to an inch of snow was a nice surprise.  Why?  It makes it better to hunt.  The deer pop off of the background, making them effortless to see.  Plus, it’s easier to follow the deer tracks when pushing deer through the woods or tracking the wounded.  Dad said this was the first opening season in years that snow laid on the ground.  So far so good!

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My 1st buck ever! It as a nice size deer, with a small 6 point rack. Cortland, NY 11/15/14

I do love being in the woods, like dad.  There is something so tranquil and calm, especially sitting in a tree stand, overlooking the woods, blanketed in snow, before the darkness lets the light in.  It’s really quite lovely watching the sun paint the sky with a red and yellow glow as daylight approaches.  It seems at that moment, the cold is not bothersome, in fact refreshing.  The anticipation of the day’s events hold your mind hostage, yet keeps you at peace.  A feeling that needs to be experienced, for words do it no justice.

Hunting started out like it typically does, nothing, nothing, nothing, until that something.  Dad saw a deer wondering through the trees.  Actually, the conversation, which consisted in a loud whisper because dad is hard of hearing, went something like this.

Dad:  There!  Past the big stump.  Do you see it?
Me:  Where?
Dad:  There Heather!  Do it see it move its head?  To the right of the (some species of tree).
Me:  Where?
Dad:  Heather!  Look straight down past the big stump! (while there are several large stumps with blown over trees)
Me:   O think I see it! (I did see its backside for a brief moment)
Dad:  Do you see it?  It went behind the trees.
Me:  No.
Dad:  Do you see it now?
Me:  No.
Dad:  Do you see it now?
Me:  No.

Repeat that last part for about a half an hour.  I could not see the deer to save my soul.  At first, I thought I saw it briefly, but then it was behind a cluster of trees and out of my vision, or at least that’s what I’m claiming.  It also took me off guard that my dad, who is in his sixties with questionable eyesight, spotted the deer that far away, at least one hundred fifty yards, through obstacles.  Initially, I was looking closer to us, till I realized dad was looking at a large stump way down over the hill among the trees, through the brush.

The rest of the conversation continued with:
Dad:  There, its moving to the right.  Do you see it?
Me: (as I looked toward the left with my scope)
Dad:  Your other right!
Me:  (I chuckled a bit, for I was starting to get stressed out and flustered) O I see it!  (This time I actually did!)

Hastily, I lined up the deer in my scope and shot through the brush… and missed.  To make sure, dad had me get out of the tree stand and check out the scene to make sure it wasn’t wounded.

Naturally, once on the ground, I couldn’t find the location of the action.  While walking around an area, I looked up to see dad waving me in the right direction.  Now, I was able to really chuckle to myself, for I am always directionally challenged.  Eventually, dad must have been frustrated, so he too got down from the tree stand and trekked toward me to look around.  We saw no signs of the deer and most importantly no blood.  Total miss.  A little disappointing, but the day was still young.

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The trail leading up to our tree stand in Cortland, NY 11/15/14

By the time we got back to the tree stand, dad was stripping off his neck warmer and hat and breathing heavy.  I had to wait for him to enter the stand first, since he’s so large and awkward, it makes it easier on him, and me, to use all the space to get adjusted before I plant my bottom down.  Dad needed to take a minute to catch his breath at the lander, before heading up.  Being a stinker and in not bad shape, I simply said, “Does someone need more cardio?”  Ya, dad gave me a snarly look, but totally worth it.

The next few hours weren’t very exciting, that is until dad pointed out a few does.  Picking out the largest one, I shot her at a close fifty to seventy-five yards.  We went through the process of getting out of the stand again, inspecting the harvest and tagging it with my name, and getting back in the stand again.  Believe it or not, that was my very first deer.  Yes, I did hunt when I was younger, but I never got anything.  I took a hiatus for many years before returning to my roots.

Believe it or not, in less than an hour later, even before I could get cold again, I saw a buck walking through the trees.  This one I spotted on my own.  I now had deer vision.  At this point, my heart was pounding and I was getting nervous.  Once dad spotted the graceful beast, which didn’t take him long, he coached me a bit.  “Wait for it to get out of the brush, don’t try shooting through the brush.”  He spoke in a whisper.  After watching the buck in my sights for what seemed like an hour, it finally gave me a clear shot, with less than a minute window to react at about one hundred twenty-five yards away.  I did, and the result?  I harvested my very first buck!  It was a nice size deer, no doubt I knew it would yield a lot of good meat.  How many points?  The buck had a small rack in relation to its body, but there were six points!  Dad was really proud of me; for the solid shot, for providing food for the table, for my first buck, for my efforts to keep our hunting tradition alive, you name it dad was happy!  He gave me a big old hug and a smile that lit up the already bright sunny blue sky.  It was a good day!  One I will always remember.

Now that my tags were filled, dad was next.  The rest of the day was uneventful, with the exception of gutting and skinning my deer.  That night everyone met at Larry’s house for some late night snacks, to show off everyone’s harvests and to share stories.  We stayed for a good while before our eyelids became heavy and the anticipation of the next day was overwhelming.

Sunday was much like Saturday, only a bit colder.  Early in the day, dad filled his doe tag, but not his buck.  The guys made a rule to those seasoned hunters, that they were only allowed to shoot eight points or better.  The only exception was me and the kids and those who have never shot a buck before.  We were allowed any number of points.  Did we see any bucks at all?  Nope.

Funny story.  During August or September, dad and I made a day trip to Cortland to bring our extra tree stand and help clean up, getting ready for deer season.  On our way back, I noticed all these birds sitting on the highway signs.  I mean, it seemed like thousands of them!  Every time I pointed it out, dad would drive by and miss this gathering of birds.  Repeating this phenomena at least twice, dad missed both.  By the time we came to a third sign, dad looked up and said, “Boy look at all those birds, looks like they’re going to bend the sign!” with total sarcasm.  I looked up to see about three birds sitting on the metal pole.  “Not funny!”  I told dad and tried to justify my observation.  The entire way home and after, dad teased me about the birds that bent the sign.  Whatever!

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The Trooper Hunt Club in Cortland, NY. 1st day of rifle season. I got a buck & doe. Great harvest! 11/15/14

Well, as we sat there, all these geese started flying over head.  Naturally, they were making all kinds of noise.  There must have been a hundred, even though it seemed like a thousand.  The funny part, they flew in small sections, continuously making noise.  It went on for about fifteen minutes.  I couldn’t help myself, I started laughing.  Dad chimed in to say, “I bet they’re going to bend a pole.”  I was cracking up!  It was one of those silly moments, which are rare with my dad, who takes hunting very seriously.

A little later, dad pulled a Kyle.  He got out his trail mix and was trying to open the plastic bag, which was SO noisy.  It sounded like something Kyle would do.  I gave him a look of ‘Are you done yet?’.  That sparked me to say, “Ok, Kyle.”  Dad and I snickered and then started telling Kyle stories to humor ourselves, but mostly because we missed our little man so much.

Where was Kyle?  He wasn’t able to join us on our trip.  He already missed too much school, plus he was sick from the week before, still holding onto a cold.  The trip wasn’t the same without Kyle, but a good regardless.  Everything is more adventurous and fun with Kyle!  Maybe next year.

By Monday, it warmed up a bit, with steady rain ALL day.  It was a cold, bone chilling rain that was not comfortable to sit in.  Being the only ones in the woods, dad and I moved out of our wet spot to another tree stand nearby with a roof.  Well, in my opinion, it was too late since I was already sopping wet.  Dad and I stuck it out till about 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm before calling it a day.  I even hiked through the pine trees to push some deer toward dad with no luck.  We didn’t see any deer and we both knew they were hunkered down not moving, waiting out the rain too.  Eventually, we retreated to the local convenience store for some soup and hot chocolate (dad got coffee).

It took our little space heater in our motel room the rest of the day and all night to dry out our gear.  During our down time, which dad napped a bit, I brought my iPad to get some work done and enjoy the quiet time (with the exception of dad’s snoring).

By Tuesday morning, we decided to hunt a half day and before heading home.  That night the temperatures dropped, forming ice over everything and luckily enough, snow also fell to give some traction to the slick roads.  It was cold!  I mean really, really cold!  The temperatures were in the twenties with major wind, giving the feeling of single digits.  After about two or three hours, we both buckled and went home.  In that time, I walked for about an hour, trying to kick up deer and push them toward dad.  No such luck.  I didn’t even see fresh tracks.  It was time to exit stage right.

I do enjoying hunting, but the best part is spending time with dad in the woods.  God blessed us with a great harvest!  Can’t wait for Pennsylvania’s hunting season to start!  This time I get to hunt with Kyle!

Thank you to Larry, his family and everyone in New York for the hospitality!  I had a great time and I look forward to meeting up with everyone next year.

 

 

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

Hunting: Why I Hunt

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  ~Maimonides

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Kyle hamming it up on dad’s trail cam. 1/9/11

Recently, I saw a Facebook entry questioning the practice of hunting, especially posting pictures of the harvested deer.  I take that back, I’ve seen many posts praising hunting and many opposing the practice.  I wanted to respond, but I know I couldn’t justify my actions in a few words, however, hopefully I could get my point across to naysayers through a few more words, actually many many more.  I don’t’ want to single anyone out because this is not about bashing, but simply informing and educating.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can about my family, some of my friends, and me personally.  Sure, there are those who don’t hold the same opinions as I do with respect to hunting, and there are those who give the practice a bad connotation.  Again, I can only outline what I know and hopefully teach through my experiences.

Before I go into detail, I would rather see a picture of a deer harvested from the woods and prepared for dinner, than see it splattered all over the highway.  Over population of deer is very dangerous and a real problem.  That’s why hunting is regulated by the Game Commission and is a legal practice.  Some remote parts of the world only survive on hunting and wild game.  Would you rather a family starve to death, instead of consuming the wild beasts God provided?  Would anyone deny hunting to those tiny communities in Alaska whereas a bear or a moose feeds an entire village?  Guess what?  It takes generations of teaching this skill and a lot of practice to accomplish said goal.  A person can’t just wake up one day and know what to do and the ethical practices with respect to hunting.

FB-entry-Aunt-Heather-PiperIdea of Hunting
Hunting is not about the kill, sure that is in deed what happens, but that is not the true end result.  The absolute result is about providing food for the family; good quality, natural deer meat, which is the healthiest meat to consume and not prepackaged prepared stuff sold in the grocery stores, loaded with preservatives and toxic junk.

My family not only harvests the deer, but we butcher our own meat.  The entire process straight from the woods to the skillet.  Some of the deer meat is canned, (yes it’s very tasty) some made into jerky and bologna and most of it is cut up into steaks and roasts and ground meat to be wrapped and frozen for later consumption.

I don’t judge those who take their meat to another facility to have it butchered.  Some may not know how to cut up a deer, for they were never taught.  Or they don’t have the space and equipment to do so.  The materials for this process alone are expensive and time consuming.  I am blessed because I do know how to cut up a deer and prepare it for storage, and I have the material to do so.  In fact, dad and I are pretty quick at gutting and skinning the deer in the woods and when needed, sectioning it up, especially if it’s freezing cold outside!

From there, my parents have the all the equipment to cut up the meat into steaks, roasts, ground meat, bologna etc, nothing gets wasted.  Growing up, my parents didn’t have much.  No exaggeration.  For my mom to buy box cereal was a luxury item.  However, we never went hungry and my family never asked for a hand out, and no one ever paid our way, not even the government.  Nope, instead we relied on hard work with our garden and hunting to provide food for the table.  Hunting was a means for survival, like it was designed to be.  It was never about the kill but about providing for the table.  Sure it’s also a favorite pastime and hobby, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with combining necessity and fun.

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Cousins Benny, Chad & Jimmy Scanlon. Chad passed away from a brain tumor 9/4/94 – 5/25/07. They captured every moment they could before his passing.

Picture Taking
Getting back to the idea of taking a picture with the trophy of the hunt.  Taking a picture not only records the actions at that present, but it also captures memories and the reality of survival.  So when I post a picture of me or my nephew or whoever, with a freshly harvested deer, it’s not about showing off death and killing, but pride for being able to be a part of providing for the family.  That is a true honor, which I wish more people would be able to experience.  For if they did, others would learn to respect firearms and their food source more.  Same with gardening.  If more people solely, or mostly lived off of their hard word with gardening, there would be a greater respect for fresh food and healthy eating.

Granted, when my dad was young, picture taking was a rarity (not only because dad didn’t and still doesn’t’ know how to work a camera or phone) because of the generation.  They didn’t have social media, but they did share stories and passing around the horns of the kill instead of taking pictures.  That’s how to teach younger generations to learn what to do and what to expect, through visuals.

Did you know some kids truly don’t know where meat come from?  In some ways, we as a society are becoming to removed from reality.  It’s not healthy and damaging.

I cherish every picture I have of my brother, especially those with my dad and him in the woods, doing what they both loved, hunting.

Above is a picture of my cousins (Benny and Jimmy’s mother was Helen Piper).  The youngest in the picture is Chad Scanlon, my thirteen year old cousin who passed away from a brain tumor.  The Chad Delier Scanlon Story They tried to capture every moment of his short life.  Can you blame them?  Life happens quickly, I wish I would have captured more pictures of Ryan in the woods hunting, with or without the harvested animals.

Keeping Traditions
Hunting is a tradition, a long honored tradition in the Piper family, regardless of gender.  Everyone is treated the same, no one is snubbed in our family when it comes to hunting.  It was always a family activity, my mom, sister, brother, dad, cousins, aunts, uncles and now my nephew.  All aspects of hunting have been learned from generations before.  In fact, my one rifle was handed down from my pap, to my brother, and after his passing, to me.  Eventually, the rifle will end up in Kyle’s hands, Ryan’s son.

There is more to hunting than going out with a rifle, and plugging a deer.  Nope, first is starts with learning to load the shells, shoot, and clean and maintain the firearms.

Loading
All summer long we load our own shells with the exception of .22 bullets, and target shoot at the range.  Loading our own rifle shells is a science and is becoming a lost art.  Recently, I was made aware that not a lot of people know this practice.  Well, I do!  And Kyle does.  Dad has made it a point to pass down his knowledge of loading to us, like he did with Ryan.  It’s really important to dad to keep this tradition alive, and for that I am very grateful.  The more I learn, the more hunting means to me and I appreciate.

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Kyle at the shooting range practicing with bowling pins. 11/10/13

Learning to Shoot
Even target shooting is a real skill.  Sure, it sounds easy going out in the woods and pulling the trigger.  That’s the basis of the action, but there is so much more to it than that.  First, learning to shoot at various distances is a practiced skill.  And learning to shoot through a scope is a big difference between shooting with open sights.

Sometimes the rifle isn’t shooting straight and learning to shoot in a gun to line up the sights properly is another skill.  Yes, there are methods such as taking the rifle to get it boresighted, but that’s not always a guarantee for shooting dead on.

Then, there’s different ways to shoot, off of a guide like a bi-pod or tri-pod, or free standing.  There’s a difference between fifty yards and two hundred yards.  I myself am pretty good up to two hundred yards, at the target range.  There’s a big difference between shooting at a piece of paper with a cross-hair marked in red, and a moving one in the woods.

The woods contain a ton of obstacles including brush and weather conditions and time.  That’s the hardest part for me, waiting, quietly.  Sometimes it takes hours and hours before a deers makes its appearance, if at all.  The deer don’t just show up at a convenient location and wait around for someone to shoot either.  Nope.  They could be running, walking, either head on, walking away or moving side to side, which is ideal to shooting the deer in the front shoulder.  My dad has taught me to drop a deer with one shot, and you know what?  Every time I’ve shot a deer, I dropped it with one bullet, within a minute from the bullet exiting the barrel of my gun.  (please note, I’ve only ever shot three deer to date, and there were misses in there too).  However, it doesn’t always work out that way, even with a seasoned professional like my dad.

Sometimes bullets will ricochet off of brush or trees and cause the bullet to miss it’s intended target spot, or the target wasn’t standing in the ideal angle for a perfect kill. With every bullet fired, dad investigates the potential death of the deer, especially if it’s wounded.  Dad has always, and even in his older age, continues to track EVERY wounded deer, even if it results in miles and miles of tracking.  Dad doesn’t believe in shooting an animal to let it suffer or waste the meat.

Tacking
Even learning to track a deer can be a challenge.  Sure, it’s not so bad when it’s snowing and there is a lot of blood loss, but try it when there’s no mud trail or blood trail and possibly a lot of brush to tackle.

Respecting the Rules
Then, there’s knowing what you are shooting within seconds before pulling the trigger.  Sometimes it’s only buck season, or the rules dictate a certain number of points on the horns.   Rules?  Yes, there are formal rules maintained by the Game Commission and there are unspoken rules, ones that aren’t necessarily illegal, just respectful.  Like what?  Shooting a deer that is bedded down is not very sporting. Shooting a very young deer is not very sporting.  Leaving an animal to waste is not very sporting.  Leaving an animal to suffer on purpose is not very sporting.

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Kyle & Scooby playing on the trail cam. 1/9/11

Learning the Deer Habits
Even before a shot is fired, learning the habits of the deer should be addressed.  Usually we go hiking through the woods in the summer and or fall, preparing for hunting season, following tracks, taking note of rub marks on trees, looking for bedded down grass or weeds where they hunker down, so on and so forth.  Even when sitting during hunting season, deer don’t just jump out waving a flag.

Many times, the hunter needs to have a three hundred sixty degree awareness for all moving animals in the area.  Sometimes looking a couple hundred yards, through crooked trees and brush and branches over rocks into valleys or up hillsides, for an animal that might be creeping like a ninja.  Did I mention sometimes it’s snowing or raining or the sun is shinning in the eyes, not always perfect conditions?

Tree Stands
Tree stands are a relatively new tool used by hunters.  They were more common during archery season, but have been adapted to rifle season as well.  When I was a youngster learning to hunt in the woods, I would sit on a log or a rock.  I was also taught to hunt while walking through the woods, like my dad did for many years.  Or course, it’s a harder on my sixty-some-year-old dad to do that nowadays.  Sure, being in a tree stand does have its advantages, but not always.

Cleaning the Rifles
Throughout the year, the rifles are cleaned and maintained.  Dad has taught us all the proper way to clean and oil our guns, in a safe manner. Usually this is done late summer before hunting season, depending on how much the firearm was shot.

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Dad & Kyle at target range, shooting in rifles. 8/25/13

Family Bonding
Like dad, I too love being out in the woods, sitting in nature.  It’s very peaceful and serene.  That I chalk up to being a Piper.

Some of my favorite memories with the entire family include hunting.  Even to this day, every time we head to the woods, whether hunting or not, dad always seems to reminiscence about Ryan and their time together in the woods.  Those memories are priceless.  Even my First Day of Hunting – My Story was an adventure that still cracks me up to this day.  Not to mention all the stories I can tell about Kyle and his own hunting adventures with us.

Hunting isn’t something that started with my dad’s generation, or my pap’s generation, but generations upon generations before.  This is the means people have practiced for survival since the beginning of time. It saddens me to see these true traditions are slipping away to the unknown or criticized when they are a part of everyone’s roots, like it or not.  My dad is a true hunter, even in his older age.  He has this sense about him that can’t be taught, but is either innately built in or has been engrained over the years.  Something I haven’t seen a lot of, something I wish I possessed.

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A portion of the woods in Cortland, New York for deer season. 11/15/14

Granted, I didn’t address everything including safety, pushing deer, and all about sportsmanship.  But after going through all this, I believe taking a picture of my hard work is justifiable.  Perhaps, many people don’t like to view these images and prefer to live in ignorance with blinders on.  If the pictures are offensive, hiding the posts are in everyone’s right.  But remember, it’s all about the intent of the action, not the perceived intent, but the actual intent.  I don’t believe the pictures I’ve seen are malicious in any way, simply a picture of accomplishment.

I would never choke my way of life down anyone’s throat, never.  But I also would never speak out against something I don’t understand or have never experienced.  God made us all different so we would rely on each other and learn from one another.  (As long as what we’re doing it morally responsible)  Personally, I invite anyone that criticizes or speaks ill of hunting, that has not experience the tradition, to join me for one hunting season.  Not to shoot, but to assist me in most aspects that I’ve discussed, at least before speaking out negatively with the time honored practice.

Sure not a lot of hunters know what I have been taught, and there are a lot of hunters who give hunting a bad reputation, but the only way to change that is to maintain the true way of hunting, and to pass along the respect I have been taught to the young generations.  Happy Hunting!

On a side note, Hunting-of-a-Lifetime does a lot with kids dealing with terminal diseases.  The Chad Delier Scanlon Memorial Fund sponsors a youngster every year who always wanted to hunt.  I believe the families of these kids cherish the pictures of their child with the harvested animal.

 

This is a great article with respect to hunting.

www.fox23.com_f90cd3f076f74cdb89dfb24d35c86acd

 

 

*Look for another post telling about my adventures hunting with dad in New York this past weekend.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing 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
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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 – Green County

One eye sees, the other feels.  ~Paul Klee

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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

Kyles-buck-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-getting-into-tree-stand-Cortland-NY-8-31-13

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!

Lined-up-at-the-shooting-Range-8-25-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Pappy?

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

Kyle-&-pappy-2001 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle & his pappy for his first Christmas… love the red long underwear. Dad has the same pair 2001

Kyle and his pappy.  What else can I say?  They are like two peas in a pod.  Without question, Kyle looks up to his pappy, and my dad shares the same admiration for Kyle.  They definitely have a unique bond, its strong and very reminiscent of the relationship between Ryan and dad, but is truly more like my pappy and Ryan.  It must be the grandfather, grandson combination.

Ryan and dad were tight, both having such a passion for hunting and fishing.  Now don’t get me wrong they were typical father and son, but really pretty close.  I guess it helped that they spent hours in the woods together on hunting trips, countless fishing opportunities, and too much time in the garage working on cars to have been anything other.  But before Ryan really truly got into any of these, he had a tight bond with our pappy, my dad’s dad.

Ryan and my pap’s relationship, very much resembled Kyle and my dad’s.  Ryan and Kyle are both lifesavers, whether they knew it or not.  After my pap had his second leg amputated, Ryan stayed with him, a lot.  After my brother passed away suddenly, Kyle stayed with us, a lot.  My pappy died when Ryan was in the third grade, so our interaction with him stopped at a young age, but thankfully Kyle and dad are still going strong.  Both boys helped with the healing process.  After all, who can stay depressed or upset or even stationary with a little man running around.  Not in our family!  Both Ryan and Kyle indirectly helped my pap and my dad, respectively, carry on through horrible situations.  They were both air to our lungs, both gifts from God to help us survive.  Kyle was, and continues to be a reminder of Ryan and what a special gift children are.  I guess that holds true, not just for dad but for the family as a whole.

kyle-&-pappy-with-hat Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle grabbing pappy’s hat. Aunt Mary is in the background. Piper Reunion 2002

Well, I think you get the comparison between Ryan and his pap and Kyle and his pap.  Like anyone in the Piper family, they hunt and fish.  Yep, dad has already taken Kyle two years in a row for mentor hunting.  The second year, bringing home a deer.  Dad couldn’t have been more proud, just as he was with all us.

Kyle does like to deer hunt, but maybe doesn’t carry the same passion as dad.  Now fishing is a different story.  Kyle really seems to enjoy fishing.  In fact, every year he inquires about the start of the fishing season, especially the annual Planinsek Fishing Derby (Want to Go Fishing?).  The cynical side of me says, it’s a favorite with Kyle because the sport requires a lot of sitting as opposed to hunting, which sometimes involves a bit more hiking.  Either way, dad takes Kyle fishing whenever he can.  We all join in on that fun, but like I said, I have yet to meet anyone else with such a devotion for hunting and fishing like dad.

kyle-&-pappy-watching-TV Aunt Heather Piper

Dad & Kyle watching TV…. this picture says it all!

Even though dad is a hunter, he loves and appreciates animals, like another little someone I know.  There’s no denying it, dad is an outdoorsy man.  It’s also noted that Kyle really is not, although he certainly shares the love for all of God’s creatures.  Growing up, dad couldn’t get enough of National Geographic and Marty Stouffer! Loyal Traveling Television Kyle has seemed to adopt this intense interest in animals as well.  Seriously!  Some of Kyle’s top picks for shows include Too Cute!, Weird True & Freaky, and Big Cat Diaries (one of my favorites too).  Basically anything on Nat Geo and Animal Planet.  Dad takes his love of outdoors and his eagerness for hunting a step further and enjoys watching  Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel or the Trophy Hunting Channel.  Kyle, like the rest of us, doesn’t really enjoy watching people pull fish from a pond or shoot a Mountain Goat.  But we do like watching the hibernation of bears and the strength of ants.

Sports and sports teams have never been big in our house.  The Piper’s have been known to play a mean game of baseball, but that’s about the extent of it, at least in our immediate family.  Dad never played any sports, having to start working and making posts when he was nine-years-old.  The option wasn’t there for him to have that interest.  Now Kyle has had every opportunity to participate in sports, but he has chosen another path.  Forget it, if there is football, baseball, basketball or even hockey on the TV, no one in the family is watching it, including Kyle.  I’ve had Kyle involved in Pee Wee football, basketball (which what a real treat for the eyes) soccer, gymnastics, running and swimming.  Nope, no real interest.  Don’t get me wrong, he had fun playing with the other kids and getting out, but there is definitely no love and desire to play these activities for the sport of it.

Kyle and dad, what a pair.  You should see them watching TV together.  They are always leaning and snuggling between the two, truly enjoying the company of the other.

Dad was always like that with us as kids.  I personally used dad’s arm as a pillow and fall asleep.  But I must admit, dad has fallen victim to the grandson rule and monarchy.  Dad doesn’t always let Kyle get away with things, but I would have to say more than not.  Certainly, ten times what we were able to get away with as kids.  Yep, Kyle owns us!

kyle-&-pappy-napping Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle & his pappy napping…I think I caught dad nipping into Kyle’s bottle c. 2002

Now back to the similarity.  I’ve mentioned it a time or two, Kyle loves math.  Dad has always been good at basic math and measurements.  Now dad never had the opportunity to be education to the level Nicole was, but I bet dad could have done so.  Kyle and dad are both quick with numbers, rattling off and adding up prices and such.  Quick story time!  I know I’ve mentioned this one a time or two, but what the heck, it’s a good one.

Once, when we were visiting Nicole, we decided to tour one of the Smithsonian Museums.  Naturally, Kyle’s pappy had to buy him a souvenir.  Whatever the item was, dad got him two.  As dad and Kyle walked up to the register and before the lady could ring them up, Kyle spitted out the total.  Not only was it the total of the two items but Kyle figured in the tax.  He was actually off by a couple of pennies and that didn’t fly with Kyle.  He questioned the register and unbeknownst to Kyle, the tax was different then ours locally, so that explained the discrepancy.

Dad does the same thing when figuring out mileage and measurements, especially board footage.  Yep both quick with basic numbers!  I guess it’s there thing.

Pappy-&-Kyle-on-his-1st-Birthday-7-30-02

Pappy & his Kyle on Kyle’s 1st Birthday 7/30/02

Dad and Kyle are also super friendly people.  For Kyle to be that way as a youngster, made me a bit nervous, but now that he has grown into a young man, it’s nice to see.  Dad will say ‘hi’ to any stranger on the street with a sincere smile, just like Ryan used to.  Kyle shares that trait as well.  Dad will look anyone in the eye, give them a good strong handshake and present a warming smile, before beginning a conversation with anyone.  Kyle with start up conversations with adults and kids alike.  He is learning the proper way to shake hands with someone and to greet them, but he always had the ability to make friends and be inviting.  All good qualities.

Dad is not like the typical ‘guy’ when it comes to directions.  He hates being lost and has no trouble stopping to ask for assistance.  Kyle has always joined dad in that demeanor.  Even in the grocery store, Kyle is the first to speak up and say “Can I just ask Aunt Heather?”  That’s my man, never has been shy about asking for anything!

I guess I’ve discussed personality traits and interests but I haven’t addressed body types.  Kyle is build exactly like my dad.  They both have a wide thick body, solid stocky legs.  Funny enough, their feet are even shaped the same.  Even when dad was at his thinnest when he was in the army and Kyle was at his leanest, neither one were built like Ryan, long and lanky.  They both have a study structure.

Kyle and his pappy, what a pair!  They certainly both need each other and even though they are similar in many ways, their opposing nature truly helps the other out.  They are a good team!

Read more comparisons
Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Nikki?

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

Squirrel!

You can’t be friends with a squirrel!  A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.  ~Sarah Jessica Parker

Kyle-Squirrel-hunting-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-16-13

Kyle tripped over an animal carcass while walking to our next location to squirrel hunt with dad. He splattered in the snow. 2/16/13

This past Saturday, me, dad and Kyle participated in a squirrel hunt contest, hosted by Gutchess Hardwoods, mom’s work.  Everyone had two or three people to a team.  It started at daybreak and ended at 3:00 pm.  Since it’s small game season, they assigned points for the legal animals in addition to squirrel, after all it was a squirrel hunt.  We received a list of our legal targets such as coyote, crow, pheasant, rabbit and naturally squirrel, along with a point system for each.  You were docked if you shot a red squirrel.  Raccoon and fox were also on the list but I refuse to shoot either.  I don’t know who came up with the list or the point system, but both needed to be reevaluated.

I’ve only ever seen a fox once in my life, and believe it or not, it ran across the road in front of me a few months ago near my parents house.  So cool!  I felt blessed and privileged to see this miniature dog-like beast scurry past me.  Since I haven’t seen many foxes, actually only that one, and let’s face it my love for raccoons Raccoon or Cat? is an instant protector of the fury nocturnal bandits, both critters didn’t make my list of small game to shoot.  On a side note, I do want to state a fact.  If a sick animal, of any kind approaches me or my family, even a raccoon, I wouldn’t think twice about putting it down.  I told Kyle about my adjusted list and he gave me the orneriest look and said, “I’m shooting them Aunt Heather!  They are worth more points.”  I told him I’m doing it on principle.  One, “I like those animals and I don’t want to shoot them”; two “We weren’t planning on eating them, unlike the squirrels so I see no point in killing them”; and three “I’m your Aunt and you have to live with me if you do shoot them.”  With that I gave him a very unsure smile, half serious and half joking.  Turning the conversation quickly to his side, Kyle said, “Pap pap is planning on shooting them.”  I smiled and confirmed his thoughts by saying, “Yes, pappy does what he wants.”  And with that the discussion was over.

The night before we gathered up our cloths, rifles and .22 bullets, so the morning would run smoothly.  Dad let me use Ryan’s .22, while Kyle picked his semiautomatic, with what seemed like an endless clip.  I asked him, “Are you planning on turning our small game into Swiss cheese?”  He just laughed.  It’s always exciting getting ready for a day of hunting, it really is!  Even when I was younger, before I could hunt, watching mom gather dad’s stuff in preparation for the following day was exhilarating.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of what might happen and what creatures will make themselves known.

Throughout the evening Kyle kept saying, “Squirrel”.  He was cracking me up!  That was taken from the Disney movie Up.  We would be packing my trusty backpack with provisions like a Thermos of water, crackers, apples and such and Kyle would just throw out there, squirrel!  We became Thing 1 and Thing 2 echoing the word, squirrel every-now-and-again.  I don’t think anybody else got our humor.

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Kyle enjoying a fall day with his pap on the quad. 11/18/03

The next morning didn’t move as swiftly as I’d like.  Dad is slowing up in his old age.  He used to be dressed, fed, at his location,  and ready and waiting for the action, even before sunrise.  Not so much now-a-days, but he’s still faster than Kyle, just not what he used to be.  Right before we headed out I let the boys run around in the snow.  I swear they saw the guns and saw us getting layered up for the cold, and knew they weren’t invited.  So Scooby and Seven took it upon themselves to go for their own walk.  I’m guessing they were mad at me for not taking them on their hike the week prior.  So this little hiccup delayed us because dad had to leave on the quad and go and track down the bad dogs.

As dad was playing bounty hunter, Kyle and I headed up the woods in dad’s direction.  Would you believe Kyle complained the entire way up the hill?  Yep!  He didn’t want to wear his bibs, or his hat, or a T-shirt under his bibs (he wanted to go bare chested), or warm socks, or gloves and he certainly didn’t want to walk with all the clothing on while holding his own .22.  That’s our Kyle, it wouldn’t be a day without some sort of complaining about clothing or walking.  I will admit, he was sweating under his gear, which is not good when it’s cold out, but he needs to learn to layer when needed and strip down when he’s hot, preferably without whining.  If it was up to him, he would have left in the snow with a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops.  Not on my watch, when it was clearly freezing outside.

We reached the top of the hill and made ourselves a spot on a rock.  It was such a pretty day!  The snow fell all night long and covered everything with fresh fluffy snow, like the ground and trees were covered in cotton balls.  Since the weather moved in, all the animals hunkered down in the morning and weren’t moving around, not good for hunting, but very peaceful.  Dad said he saw coyote tracks and deer tracks, but no squirrel.  In addition to the woodpecker we heard, Kyle and I heard a crow in the distance but nothing within visibility.

Eventually we walked down the road near the cabin.  To create a little adventure and to follow the dogs tracks, Kyle and I followed the power line right away down to our location.  Along the way, Kyle tripped and splattered down the hill in the powder.  I turned around and saw him flattened on the ground, partially covered in snow.  His rifle flew out of his hand and landed a foot away from him.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  At first, I started laughing, especially when Kyle lifted his snow covered, bright red faced, black dog hat wearing head up at me.  After I helped him out of the snow and shook most of the cold fluff from his limbs, I noticed an object surfaced from the ground.  Kyle tripped over a carcass of some small animal.  Really?  I just walked through there and managed to make it without raising the dead.  Not Kyle.  Once I pointed out the ribcage, Kyle joined in on my laughter.

Squirrel-hunting-tripped-over-carcass-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-16-13

Kyle after he pulled himself out of the snow. He loves that .22. 2/16/13

Then, you think Kyle got it out of his system, but nope.  After the three of us sat in the woods near a tree holding squirrels nests and saw nothing, we decided to head back home.  Dad was on the quad and Kyle and I were on foot, well at least for a little while.  In middle of the path there was a huge branch off to the side.  I get it when the objects are camouflaged by the snow, but when they are clearly visible there is no reason to trip over them.  Apparently, Kyle didn’t get the memo because the next thing I knew, he splattered all over the ground again.  Really?  Yep!  At this time, I lost it.  I was between seriously expressing my amusement and my amazement.  Walking right beside Kyle, I was laughing all the way down the hill, that is until Kyle realized he lost his small clip.  Yes the child has a small clip that same with the gun and a larger one courtesy of his pappy. Kyle, clearly upset over this discovery stated, with absolute certainty that the clip used to be tucked away in his pocket.

After we backtracked, and by the grace of God found the clip, we headed back to the house again.  This time we decided to cut down through the woods to pop out onto our neighbors driveway.  Would you believe just as we approached the clearing, Kyle did it again?  Yes!  He fell again!  To be honest, at this point I’m glad we had a few inches of fresh power to break his falls.  If not, that kid would have been pretty bruised and possibly bloody.  I turned to Kyle and said, “Buddy, what is wrong with you?  First day with the new feet?  I have never seen someone fall as many times as you have in one day, let along one morning!”  Kyle seemed to be accustomed to his consistency of gravity taking hold of him because he just started laughing and laughing.  At least he was amusing himself!  To really make light of the situation I said, “What are you trying to wrestle the squirrels?”

We giggled over Kyle’s actions all the way to the paved road.  Then it dawned on me that this is a recipe for disaster.  Trying to give fair warning, I commented “Kyle you better be careful on the road, if you fall again, it’s really going to hurt.”  Kyle considered this and said nothing.

We made it back to the house and enjoyed the rest of the day inside.  I really had a lot of fun, even though there wasn’t any movement.  It’s nice sometimes to just get out in the fresh, crisp air and enjoy the silence and beauty God gave us.

Eventually around 1:00 pm, our neighbor called and said Seven and Scooby was hanging around his house.  Yep those dogs were running from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm.  I took the quad up the road and had them follow me back, into the punishment of mom.  Needless to day, they spent most of the day under the kitchen table being punished for their rebellion.  Maybe if they could say ‘squirrel’ there scolding wouldn’t have been so harsh.  Perhaps next time I’ll prep them a little better.

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

Last Day of Hunting

A wounded deer leaps the highest.  ~Emily Dickinson

Jeremy-&-Ryan-with-Buck-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Jeremy & Ryan getting ready to skin a buck

This past Saturday was the last day of deer hunting for the year, at least with a rifle.  Me, dad and Kyle all went together in the morning.  We only had a few hours to hunt before I had to get the little man into Latrobe.  He was working the soup kitchen with the Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia Youth Group. In addition to him serving the food and giving out canned goods, Kyle was playing the keyboard for those dining.  He was really excited to help out.  It’s never too late to teach a child to give back to the community and volunteer.  With such a tight schedule, we headed out early.

Getting up around 5:00 am and being ready by 7:00 am, as the sun was rising, was the easy part of the day.  Dad’s game plan was for me to head back down the ridge, where I was before Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer and push the deer toward them.  This time, Kyle and dad sat in my Uncle Walter’s field.  Then, I was instructed to cut through my neighbors yard, across the road and into my parent’s woods to meet up with them.  Since I had my doe tags, which were unused, I was also directed by mom and dad, “If it’s brown it’s down.”  Got it!

As I made my way through brush, thorns and branches, I had a slight mishap.  You see, at the very edge of the woods, down the hill from the cemetery is a condensed thicket.  I needed to get past that area in order to maintain my dictated course of action, before arriving on some natural and quad trails.  Not to mention, the deer sit along that stretch so it was important to make my appearance in that section.  As I pushed my body through the hostile terrain, my rifle got caught on a branch and my shoulder strap snapped.  As the warn piece of leather broke in two, the force caused my rifle to flip around my shoulder taking a nose dive, barrel first, into the mud.  Yikes!  I just started my journey!  Well, knowing better, I stuck a stick down the barrel and scrapped out some mud.  This isn’t a horrible act, but I was being lazy and left my gun loaded.  Yes, I am ashamed to say, I had the gun loaded, one was even in the chamber.  Not smart, but at least I didn’t look down into the barrel of a loaded gun.  I pointed it away from me while working out some of the crud.  I’m not naive enough to think I completely unplugged the barrel, I knew I was going to need dad to clear it all out, but I wanted to try.  So now I was reminded of my First Day of Hunting – My Story when I had no shoulder strap and I had to carry my rifle.  Well, there was nothing else to do but keep moving.

As I continued, I noticed a ton of deer crap.  Everywhere!  Then to tease me a bit, I saw two or three white tails swishing in the air among the natural landscape.  They retreated down the other side of the bank.  Again more brush!  Of course I was in the woods, it’s not like I was taking a stroll around the mall, so I guess it’s expected.  The brown beasts disappeared in the brush by the time I made my way up the hill, not that I thought I could outrun a deer but I wanted to see where they were headed.  I couldn’t see anything but jagger bushes (A little Pittsburgh lingo).  Naturally, the deer ran in the opposite direction of dad and Kyle, but then again like I’ve told dad before, “I’m not a herding dog!”

After I continued on, I heard a shot from the other side of the thicket.  The same place where my target evaded me minutes earlier.  It seems as though, having me push deer is good for every hunter, except the ones I’m working with.

Eventually, I made my way to my final destination.  On a side note, my neighbor has a horse, which was milling around outside.  The horse made very slight movements, mostly flicking its tail, kind of like a deer.  All I thought was, what if someone accidentally shot the horse from a far thinking it was a deer?  I know that sounds like a horrible comment, but my cynical mind was in overdrive.  How would you explain that? ‘Sorry I just shot your horse, I thought it was a deer?’  How would you rectify the situation?  If you were the horse owner, what would you say to that?  Anyway, it was just a stupid fake scenario that entered my imagination and exited as quickly.  I thought it was kind of funny.

Ryan-in-Woods-hunting-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan taking a rest from hunting

Once I met up with dad and Kyle, dad had me go around the woods near them, on the edge of the field.  Dad said he saw some movement.  He also mentioned, as they approached the woods first thing in the morning, there were two deer that ran past them.  Dad said, “If someone wasn’t talking so much, we could have had them.”  Of course, that’s speculation but I could only imagine Kyle flapping his gums as they hiked back through the field.  He is too much!  Even still, we love having him around.

Dad gave me his strap and cleaned out the barrel of my rifle, making it safe once more.  I knew the rifle was Ryan’s, but I didn’t know it was my pap’s before that.  Dad mentioned that my pap purchased the firearm from the Army and Navy store in Latrobe years ago.  It was 60 years old when pap bought the 257 and eventually gave it to Ryan.  Great buy pap!  Now I’m using it and I must say it fits me perfectly.

Once I went into the woods, a deer jumped right across my path and into the brush, out of sight in seconds.  I was not ready for that!  Then I heard the familiar sounds of my phone ringing.  I had a feeling who it was, dad.  He said, “You’re on the wrong path, go back further!”  So I readjusted my direction and continued on the planned trip down and around the woods.  As I got to the bottom of the clearing, I saw two deer nervously moving their white tails at me.  This time they were in perfect position to be pushed toward my eagle eye teammates.  Making sure everyone was ready, I called dad to warn him.  Love modern technology!

Maybe a minute later, I heard a shot coming from dad’s direction.  Then I heard another.  Thinking dad got it, I called him to make sure it was safe for me to exit the woods and to ensure he knew where I was positioned.  Right after I hung up, I heard another shot coming from dad.  At that point, I thought dad got the second deer?  Or was that Kyle?

I huffed up the hill through the field to meet up with the dynamic duo.  We marched back into the woods where dad said he hit the deer and it went down.  Looking around, we couldn’t see it anywhere, even though dad said it didn’t get back up after it dropped.  When it comes to deer hunting, dad is spot on.  He knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t let the excitement get to him.  I always trust his judgement and his instincts.  While we were looking around and started to head up the path, I heard a rustling down the hill.  Instantly, I thought it was Kyle making the noise.  Nope!  It was the deer!  It got up and ran down the path!

Dad had me trail the deer.  It took a while to get a clear shot, following it up the hill over branches and logs and slick muddy leaves.  The ground was saturated from all the rain and the dead foliage made it hard to get traction.  Sliding a few times, I kept up with my target.  Let’s get real, I was exhausted!  That was a lot of work!  Once the deer laid down among natures disguises, it made it really hard to find the injured.  To be honest, I really wanted to put the beast out of its misery.

Fox-Hunting-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Tracey, Ryan, Jeremy & Denny fox hunting

During my hot pursuit, I realized Kyle was staying with me.  Really?  Kyle was keeping my pace?  Way to go buddy!  He didn’t want to leave my side, so I kept him right behind me where I could keep track of him.  Kyle was there as I took my shot and dropped the deer.  He was so exited, he ran over to the recently deceased to make sure I did my job correctly.  I told Kyle to go get pap and he said, “Aaa he’s back there somewhere.” while waved his hand dismissing dad and making it sound like we lost all the dead weight.  I was cracking up!  I kept calling him Katniss, from The Hunger Games.  He started reading those books and instantly got an ornery grin on his face, knowing what I was talking about.

Dad wasn’t too far behind, watching us the entire time.  Through all the action, I saw we had a half an hour to gut the deer, get it back to the house and get Kyle washed up and dressed for the soup kitchen.  I hiked it back to the house to get the quad, while dad and Kyle gutted the deer.  Since the deer was shot in both front legs and the upper neck, it didn’t smell too bad.  Kyle was able to help dad without gagging and puking.  Now that was impressive!

It was an exciting morning!  Dad was right.  He told me that Kyle learned more in our morning excursion, than he has in the last two hunting seasons.  Knowledge is always priceless and you can never plan when it will make its appearance!  I’m glad I was there to help and to experience it with my guys.  Until next season!

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

First Day of Hunting – Kyle’s Story

There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.  ~Charles Dickens
Kyle hunting Aunt Heather Piper 11-26-12

First day of buck hunting…. Kyle’s playing with an orange 11/26/12

So I got my hunting license this year, doe tags.  The first in a long long long time, since I was in my early teens.  Originally, I got my hunting license to help dad out with our newest little hunter, Kyle, but now it’s become a pastime we share.  My sister, who always enjoyed hunting didn’t get her license, although wanted to and mom hasn’t hunted in years either.  Maybe next season we can all go again.

As of this year, Kyle got a button buck Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer and dad got three doe and a spike in New York.  Yes, my dad ritually gets his license for New York, Green County, Westmoreland County, Wayne County and Allegheny County.  Plus he always sends away for his bonus tags.  He is a true hunter through and through.  The deer meat he obtains in hunting season feeds the family all year long.  And yes we do butcher our own deer meat.

If it wasn’t made evident yet, we are a family of hunters, which is not uncommon in the Piper family as well as mom’s side of the family, the Olczak’s.   It’s pretty typical for an entire family to venture into the woods uniformly dressed in orange, get together before a day of hunting and/or meet up after the sun sets.  I am no stranger to hunting, guns and deer meat.  In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, Kyle’s deer from mentor hunting had a really good taste to it.  Deer meat is such a clean fresh meat, very lean and natural.

Kyle & Aunt Heather Piper 11-26-12

Me & Kyle first day of buck hunting. 11/26/12

This past Monday, dad went to Indiana County to hunt while Kyle and I stayed around my parent’s house.  The woods near their house is convenient, it’s in close proximity and I can always find a cousin or neighbor if I need assistance and on Monday there was no shortage of cousins or friends of the family.  Indeed, the woods were quite polluted with orange bodies floating around the leafless trees and snow covered ground.  It makes it a little awkward, you don’t want to be too close to your neighboring deer slayer, it’s not sportsmanlike and it could be dangerous.

In the morning I got up around 4:30 am or so, along with mom and dad. Good old Gigi, got breakfast ready and was there to assist and get us out the door.  Dad ate his breakfast and left pretty early, even before Kyle rolled out of bed.  I decided to leave Kyle get a few extra Z’s before our first day of buck hunting.  The night before we laid out our cloths and were ready to follow dad’s routine of getting dressed and migrating towards the woods.  Dad was so ready, he even stopped by his hunting destination the day before and dropped off the quad, so he was he was in position at sunrise.  My little Kyle was not so ambitious.  He slept till 6:00 am, which was pushing it since sunrise was around 7:00 am.  What I didn’t anticipate was Kyle’s slow moving nature in the morning.  I should have known better and got him up earlier, but I wanted Kyle to get his fill of sleep.  By the time he moseyed out of bed, it was after 6:00 am and he still needed to eat, get dressed and we needed to walk to our location.  Our final stopping-place wasn’t far, but Kyle isn’t exactly swift on his feet, especially carrying his bags and a rifle.

Me & Kyle first day of buck hunting.  11/26/12

Kyle was reading The Hunger Games while hunting 11/26/12

Finally, with a little bit of the typical Kyle complaining we were out the door!  You know the standard, he didn’t want to layer up, he didn’t want his boots tied too tight (meaning practically falling off of his feet) all the standard grievances before leaving the house for a walk.

Our instructed hunting spot required us to hike down the hill, across the two fields into the woods.  Again, not far, but boy was that a struggle.  Sounds easy enough, except let’s not forget I had a slow moving complaining child following me.  As we walked across the field to the spot where dad told us to plant ourselves, the sun was brightly shinning over the ridge.  We were late!  I hate being late for anything!  Now my patience is slowly slipping away.  Kyle was in his standard ten to twenty paces behind me, except he wasn’t quiet in the slightest bit.  He kept yelling over at me, “Aunt Heather we can’t shoot here, there’s a house.”  Really?  Did he think I was going to have him shoot at my Uncle Walter’s house?  What irritated me, was we weren’t even at our location!  For all he knew we had another mile to go.  Then I heard, “Aunt Heather!  I’m stuck!”  I turned around to find Kyle standing there with a small thorn stem on his pant leg.  It might have caught his pants by an inch or two, nothing life threatening and it certainly was not a roadblock.  He could have kept walking past it, which he did when I rolled my eyes and continued walking.  As we marched our way across the second field I kept waving for Kyle to speed up.  Ya right!  That never happened.  Then I heard the ultimate.  “Aunt Heather I lost my shoe!”  What?  Are you kidding me?  He walked out of his boot and just stood there like he was two years old expecting me to walk the entire way back to him, and put his foot back in the boot and tie it up!  I turned around and yelled, “Then put it back on!”  As Kyle went to say something else to me I lost it and yelled, “Kyle!  Just shut up!  There are deer around here and we are scaring them off!”  He did as I rudely instructed.  I’m not sure why he pushes me to that point, but he does.  Then he’s usually back to a good kid again.

Aunt Heather Piper Instagram Hunting 11-26-12As I neared our hunting spot, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was seeing hints of orange coming out from behind the trees.  What?  Another hunter was in our spot!  Of course, it’s on a first come first serve basis.  To be honest I didn’t know what to do.  Dad specifically told us to sit there until at least 9:00 am.  Well, we moved our location further down the hill.  As we set up camp with the all the bag lady’s stuff (Kyle) we noticed it was a horrible location.  We decided to stay since it took us so long just to get to this point, and we were doing no good if we kept moving around.  So there we remained for a couple of hours.

As I leaned against a tree, I couldn’t help myself, I got the giggles, and bad!  It didn’t take long for Kyle to join me and there we were, a couple of hunters in the woods laughing about his hat, which was on inside out and his hair was sticking out through the eye holes.  Between the laughter, Kyle kept blowing his nose so loud, it was comical.  Let’s not forget the orange.  I’m not talking about the color we were wearing.  Who would have thought a piece of fruit would be so much fun!  Yes, we did capture some our actions in photos to prove we weren’t really hunting but screwing around.  Needless to say no deer showed up on end of the woods.  Couldn’t imagine why? (sarcasm)

Kyle's hat inside out hunting Aunt Heather PIper 11-26-12

Kyle really doesn’t care about fashion… hat on inside out and his tag sticking out..first day of buck. Maybe he wanted to scare the deer? 11/26/12

After we gave it the good old college try, I decided to move us to the other end of the woods.  Not to mention I wanted to make a pit stop at the house to use the restroom.  Kyle decided his stomach was hurting him and he wanted to join me.  Yes, we walked back to mom and dad’s and ran into our cousin Mikey on his way up the road who was on his way to get into position too.  He was getting a little bit of a late start, but as Mikey stated, “Better late than never.”  Too funny!

Mom took the day off work and was at the house canning deer meat from dad’s kill last week.  It was a little bit longer break than I wanted, but mom reminded me that this is also suppose to be fun.

As we made our way up the hill towards the woods, we ran back into Mikey and stood there chit chatting with him for a little bit.  While conversing, I let him know where we were going to be located.  The woods were polluted with spots of orange.  It was actually kind of hard to stay at a respectable distance away, but we managed to find our spot.  Kyle and I planted ourselves down in the leaves on the ground and continued our silliness from earlier.  This time I had a plan to be productive, I brought my book Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Hunger Games for Kyle, since he wanted to start reading those books.   My plan was to read a chapter and have Kyle watch out for deer and then I would return the favor.  Well, his eyes ran away with page after page of the book while I was the lookout.  At one point, Kyle started to get cold and he snuggled up against me and then requested that I turn the pages of his book since his hands were cold. What?  Are you kidding me?  But what is more sad, I did as he instructed and turned the pages for him.  Seeing Kyle get excited about reading and really getting into a book makes me so happy, I can’t deny him.  Not to mention he was reading the perfect book for sitting in the woods!  I was really excited for him.

Would you believe, that while we sat, a couple of seriously orange dressed hunters sat on a stump nearly 50 feet away.  I was flabbergasted!  That was not appropriate.  I called mom asking her if we should move and she instructed us to stay put because they may be moving around, which they did.  Maybe because me and Kyle didn’t deny ourselves of a few more chuckles and silliness.  We certainly weren’t shy about keeping quiet at this point.  Eventually they migrated elsewhere leaving us to our small part of the woods.

Kyle hunting scary Aunt Heather Piper 11-26-12After a while, Kyle decided he was cold and wanted hot chocolate and he wanted to go home.  He said, “Let’s go Aunt Heather, we can come back around 3:00 or so.”  We picked up all of our gear, which means I picked up our gear, including both rifles and headed back to mom and dad’s.  It was around lunch time so mom made us grilled cheese and tomato soup!  Perfect cold day food.  I ran a few errands for mom and helped her with the pressure cooker before resting my eyes.  Yep I took a nap!  It was awesome!

When I came to, I wanted to head back up to the woods for a couple of hours before sunset, but alas Kyle was not enthused at all.  I get it, when you don’t see much action in the woods, it gets boring.  It’s also probably more fun with dad, so I didn’t push him.  And let’s face it I could have headed back up myself, but I got lazy.  Dad mentioned he put us in a buck pull, guess I won’t be winning that one.

All in all it was a great day spent with Kyle!  We did hear a few shots in the woods but no movement our way.  Wonder why?  (sarcasm) If dad was with us, the day would have unfolded differently, and we probably might have seen some action, but I still think it was still a great day!

Read other adventures in Hunting

Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer

Hunter’s Safety Course – Passed!

Hunting – Survival or Sport?

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

Hunter’s Safety Course – Passed!

When he was young, I told Dale Jr. that hunting and racing are a lot alike. Holding that steering wheel and holding that rifle both mean you better be responsible.  ~Dale Earnhardt
Ryan-&-dad-hunting-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan always went with my dad hunting, even before he could hunt (photo courtesy of Steve Seminsky)

This past weekend, Kyle took his hunter’s safety course.  Memories…my family took the very same classes decades prior.  Nicole, Ryan and myself participated in the hunter’s safety program when we turned twelve or around that age.  Back then; even when I was of hunting age, taking the hunter’s safety course was not required, at least not in the state of Pennsylvania.  Dad took it because he was heading out to Colorado for a hunting trip and that state mandated the class.   Mom took it because she felt it was important, hence why she had all of us get certified.  Mom and dad thought it was a good course to go through, any extra education and safety is never a bad thing.

I know I’ve talked about Hunting – Survival or Sport? and Up a Tree, coming from a long line of hunters.  The Piper’s are and have always been avid and die hard hunters.  We have always cut up the deer meat and froze it or canned it to use all year.  In fact, most the meat consumed in our household is venison, supplied from the kills during hunting season.

Now-a-days taking this class is mandatory, in order to hunt.  So we signed Kyle up locally for his weekend cram session of hunting rules and regulations.  I do believe in this class, they go over everything from appropriate behavior in the woods with handling a rifle, to the amount of orange required, to the distance from the road the shot must be made, and so on.  They also go over the unspoken rules of hunting, covering topics such as littering and respect for landowners and fellow hunters.  It’s a very educational class, which I’m glad they require.

When I took mine, I had no idea mom signed me up.  Approaching my twelve birthday that December, I took my hunter’s safety course at the same facility as Kyle and all the Piper’s before me including mom, dad, Nicole and Ryan.  As I remember, I was the only girl or maybe one of two girls in the class and a handful of twelve-year-old boys and a few adults.  Ok, funny story.  All this time, I used to look at the older guys in my class like losers because they were taking a class with kids.  What I didn’t know at the time, they probably had to take the class to hunt in a different state like dad.  My perception of them?  They didn’t know anything about hunting.  I guess it just goes to show, never judge.  Anyway, Kyle’s class was maxed out at 50 seats, and they went fast!

Kyle-with-Hunters-Safety-License-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle passed his hunter’s safety course. It’s official! 9/23/12

Ok there is something I did and I need to call it out.  During the Friday night session, the instructor asked the class what’s a ‘Habit’ and a child raised his hand with a reply “Addiction”.  Without thinking, I laughed out loud.  Then a dad from across the room, turned to me to join me in my outburst.  I didn’t mean to, and I certainly didn’t mean to start a chorus of laughs from the sidelines, but I did.  So for that I am sorry, but it just struck me as funny!

During the short break, one of the instructors came up to me and Kyle and said, “He’s an alter boy, isn’t he?”  Kyle, using his best manners said, “Yes”.  Then the gentlemen said, “I know, I’ve seen him in church.  He does a good job.”  Kyle still using his manners replied, “Thank you.” while standing there awkwardly smiling.  I always told Kyle, “No matter where you’re at and no matter what you’re doing, people see and remember, good or bad behavior.  So always act like a responsible, respectful young man.”  He just nodded with a smile.  For the most part, I do believe he does!

11-18-2003-Dad-&-Kyle-on-quad-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad & Kyle riding the quad 11/18/03

Dad took Kyle on Saturday since I had the SpyRing Scavenger Hunt event for Thrill of the Hunt.  While I was organizing the kids I received a text message from mom.  I guess, ‘Kyle had dad get him an egg McMuffin sandwich.’  Evidently, Kyle didn’t want to eat the supplied hot dogs for lunch.  Are you kidding me?  First of all, why would Kyle think he deserved to eat something special and second, when did dad go out of his way for a silly special request?  If that were one of us as kids, asking dad for a special sandwich, he would have told us to go pound salt.  Actually, we would have never asked such a request.  Only Kyle!  And only dad would give in to that little bugger.  Boy, does Kyle have his pap pap wrapped around his finger.

Sunday was the final review and the test.  Kyle was rattling off all his new and reinforced knowledge to my dad before CCD class and church, being a little nervous.  He even ran out of church to get to his last hunter’s safety course to study before his test.  On our way there, Kyle told me the test consisted of 60 questions and he began to tell me how many questions he could miss and still pass.  Too funny!  The he said, “I’m going to pass, because I don’t want to have to go through this class again for an entire weekend.”  He even told me the number of hours I was there with him, how many hours dad sat in and how many total hours for the weekend.  I guess math never stops with Kyle- Round up the Math at Idlewild Park.

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Uncle Sony & Kyle on his birthday. He was one step closer to hunting

During the review session in preparation for the test, the instructors were shooting out questions at rapid fire.  The kids with the knowledge and the confidence, shot up their hands and were begging to be called upon.  Kyle was among the mix.  I will admit, watching him totally cracks me up.  He is so much like my sister, raising his hand, promptly answering questions and being very attentive.  Very unlike me and Ryan, or at least me.  Ryan was never an over achiever and wanted nothing to do with attention.  I just couldn’t sit in my seat for too and forget about having an attention span.  Seeing the drive and focus on Kyle’s face, he wanted to correctly answer the questions.  Now this wasn’t the case with all kids, but no one failed the test, so I’m sure everyone did well.

These classes are good for reinforcement of good practices but they are not the end-all.  I’m really glad dad has always showed us how to shoot, load and unload guns, check the chamber, and know how to handle the weapon safely.  I’ve never been afraid of any firearm and I’ve always felt comfortable handling them. I believe every household has the responsibility to review all rules, regulations and safety procedures and not leave it up to a class such as this one, just makes good practice.  In my mind these classes are a great reinforcement but not a way to create good safety habits with hunters.  I was so young when I was first exposed to shooting, that it became second nature to me.  I really don’t remember the first time I shot a gun, actually I don’t even remember Nicole or Ryan shooting for the first time.  It just seemed like I always knew what to do.  Maybe it’s in my blood, it comes with the last name Piper.

Kyle-with-Hunters-Safety-License-9-23-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle passed his hunter’s safety class…. celebration with ice-cream! 9/23/12

Well, Kyle passed his hunter’s safety crash course weekend, only missing three out of 60.  Way to go buddy!  Having the privilege of taking him on Friday night and Sunday afternoon I’m sure meant a lot to Kyle, I know it meant a lot to me.  We tend to do everything together, especially events that are a big deal, such as this one.

We are all very proud of Kyle and hope he enjoys hunting as much as the rest of my family.  He’s a pretty good shot, so I hope this strengthens his confidence to reflect positively on his skills and opens up the opportunity for him to appreciate nature and animals like all the Piper’s before him.  Kyle is allowed to go mentor hunting this year, like last year, but he will not be allowed to hunt during the season until he’s twelve, less than a year from now!  Good luck buddy!

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