My apologies for being gone so long. October has kind of gotten away from me. One minute I was day dreaming about the September heat ending and the next thing I know people are talking about Halloween parties. Even though this month hasn’t exactly been kind to my agenda, I still managed to get some hunts in. I figured today would be a good time to talk to you about Thomas’ first hunt.
So October started with a bang, literally. I had my buddy Chris, the marshhen guy: 9/18 Marsh hens- Scratch that off the list, bring his sons up for a deer hunt. Thomas (age 9) and Hunter (age 6) were full of excitement when they arrived at my place the afternoon of October 1st. After a few practice shots through the rifle and some pep talks we headed off to the woods for, what I hoped to be, a very exciting afternoon.
Getting a 9 and 6 year old set up in the same location actually turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. It wasn’t long before we had some turkeys out in front of us for the boys to look at. I was very impressed at how still the boys managed to stay while the birds looked us over. I laugh thinking about the angst on Hunter’s face, telling a six year old to remain still is like telling the wind not to blow. It was all his little body could handle to remain calm while the birds did their 10 minute show out front. I was proud of him for holding out so long.
Darkness came slowly for us. Each minute that passed I kept reassuring myself and the boys that the deer would be a long at any moment. I started to notice the nervous energy in Thomas’ whisper. Tonight was Thomas’ first deer hunt and his first time behind a rifle as well, a lot to take in for a boy his age. Watching him was like a little window back in time to my first deer hunts, Thomas even wore glasses like I did at his age.
Just when it was almost time for the hunt to be over, and as I felt my heart nearly breaking for Thomas because a deer had not shown, the slowest coyote I have ever seen happens by us. I use the word slow both in his speed of movement and his intelligence. This was positively the most clueless coyote I have ever seen. Not only did he walk right by us, but then he stopped just a short 30 yards away to dig a hole in the field. The two things I have never seen a coyote do, walk and stop. I got very excited seeing this new opportunity for Thomas, but poor Thomas could not seem to see the coyote that was a mere rock throw away from us. In an effort to get Thomas on target I start whispering loudly, “RIGHT THERE!”, throwing my arms in that direction like an air traffic controller. At this point I’m starting to think this is the Hellen Keller of coyotes(excuse the reference). I shift the rifle on its stand to point at the coyote who is now starting to trot away from us at 45 degree angle like he’s following the yellow brick road. Thomas finally sees him, gets down on the rifle and before I can remind him of the shooting tips, BOOM! goes the gun. Before the echo had even settled out the woods Thomas’ high pitched nine year old voice comes ringing out “Did I get him?”, I couldn’t say.
We packed up our things and quickly guided two overly ecstatic boys down a ladder to the ground to go look for blood. I’m pretty sure Hunter was just as excited as his brother but for the sole reason that he no longer had to sit still. I silently prayed for a blood trail, something that is rare from a coyote. When you shoot a large caliber rifle at something that size, they usually do not run, so blood trails are non existent. But honestly, that coyote was so weird in his own right, I thought anything could happen. Sadly, no blood was found and I hung my head thinking how sad the boys might be when we got back in the truck for the ride home, I was so wrong.
Even though Thomas never got to see a deer, and he missed his shot at his first coyote, he was still the most happy boy that I knew that night. His father and I sat in the front seats of the truck and listened to him retell the story like we weren’t even there. To be honest, I loved his 9 year old version much better than my own. Hearing it was like taking a trip back to youth, it was refreshing and invigorating. It reminded me of all the little things that are great in life.
When we got back to my house, it was time for them to make the drive back home. Thomas and Hunter both thanked me for the trip, but I probably should have thanked them instead. Watching them experience that hunt was better than shooting 100 deer by myself. I hope to have them back really soon.