- 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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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Hunting Adventures of 2013