In our neck of the woods, an annual tradition is about to occur, the great deer hunt. I remember years ago, as a little girl, watching as my father gathered his treasures for this event. He usually went hunting with my maternal grandfather, someone who was an avid outdoor enthusiast\employee of the Star Valley, Wyoming Fish and Game department.
My father would assemble all of the necessities: space food bars (remember those---they were available around the late 1960's---early 1970's), beef jerky, pop---since bottled water wasn't born yet, massive sandwiches, bags of chips, and varied treats like cookies, candy, Twinkies, etc.We would watch as he would lovingly pack all of these items into coolers, periodically sharing some of his "food stash" with his posterity as he continued to get ready. I especially liked the chocolate-flavored space-food bars.
Next, Dad would assemble bright red and orange clothing which included baseball hats, vests, coats, mittens, sweatshirts, and warm, strong leather boots for hiking. The only part of this ceremony that I hated was seeing him clean his rifle. I've always hated violence and I didn't like the idea that soon, my father and grandfather would be out hunting Bambi and Bambi's mother or father. I had seen that movie---I knew what happened on the great deer hunt. So secretly, I often prayed for Bambi and his relatives to survive.
One year, my father decided to try his hand at bow-hunting. He not only purchased a fine bow for himself, but he bought cheaper models for my brother and sisters and I to try out. This time, we went on the annual hunt as a family, filling even more coolers with wonderful food items. Then we journeyed to the hills above Grays Lake, Idaho where we embarked upon an adventure. My father headed way up on the mountain side, while the rest of us hung out near our picnic area, practicing with our own little bows.
I soon tired of injuring myself (I have a knack for this kind of thing) with my bow---I'd managed to hit myself in the face a time or two with the back end of a couple of arrows, not to mention scraping the tender inner portion of one arm in the process, so I went for a nature hike instead.I love the forest. I love walking around, savoring the smell of pine trees and wild flowers. Soon I happened upon something I had never seen before. It was football shaped, gray in color, and it looked really strange lying on the ground. So I kicked it really hard. Then I ran for all I was worth as a feisty group of hornets chased me down the hillside. I made it to the family car before they did and somehow avoided getting stung.
When my siblings and mother heard me screaming, they took cover, and also avoided getting stung. My father never did take us hunting with him anymore after that adventure. I guess he thought someone's screams (okay, mine) were detrimental to his hunting success. ;)
The years passed. Along the way I married a young man who also believed in the tradition of the annual deer hunt. One year he decided to take our son, Derek, with him. Derek has been an outdoors enthusiast since he could first toddle. I swear that kid came complete with camouflaged diapers. In fact, by his second birthday, he possessed his very first gun---a pop gun his mother thought was hilarious.
Derek took this gun with him when he went hunting with his father for the first time. I believe he was around three. Sneakily hiding behind the trees in the forest behind our home, my husband, Kennon, spotted a small herd of deer. He told Derek to be very quiet and as he lifted his rifle in place, he heard a rather noisy "POP!" Derek had also taken aim, effectively scaring off the deer. I was very proud. ;)
About a year later, my brother and his wife bravely took my oldest two sons to see the movie, Bambi. My sons were respectively five and four. It was an afternoon matinee at a theater in Logan, Utah. At the climax of the movie, when Bambi's mother is slain and nearly everyone in the audience was crying, a loud little voice called out, "Nice shot!" Yep, it was Derek, and needless to say, my brother and his wife hurriedly gathered my boys and left the theater before they were accosted by the traumatized audience.
More years have passed by. Lately, my husband finds that he would rather take camera shots of wildlife than do any actual hunting. But being the good sport that he is, he will be taking his 83-year-old stepfather hunting in the morning. It will be my responsibility to pack treats, food, and drinks for this occasion. We call this kind of thing, "male-bonding."
I recently came across a certain pop gun the other day. I'm tempted to pack it, too. Maybe my husband could use it in true Derek fashion, allowing Bambi and his relatives a chance to live on to frolic in the woodsies for another day. =) I will call it my contribution to the hunt.
Welcome to Crane-ium: thoughts, poetry, lyrics & photography of Cheri J. Crane
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