As a grandparent (I prefer poppy) I am excited about the time when I will have the opportunity to take my own grandchildren on their first hunting experiences. Until then, I am enjoying occasional opportunities to take other children, youth, and young adults into this wonderful world. I can honestly say I get as excited and nervous as they do just before they pull the trigger. I do, however, temper my celebration until we see the evidence of a well-placed shot lying on the ground. I then go nuts. I think what intrigues me about sitting in the blind with different hunters, is how each come with different personalities, expectations, and desires. The younger ones are so much fun. My fear is that they may face a future without the ability to hunt, whether it is because of those who are anti-hunting or because of the friendly fire that is coming from the ever-increasing license fees. I digress, but I needed to say that.
When taking these younger ones hunting, I prefer to take them to the barn loft where they don’t have to be too still and where the weather is not a factor. The bales of hay also make for a perfect gun rest. This was the case with nine-year-old Riley and me. We had situated ourselves overlooking the field, just behind the bales of hay and just in front of a small heater. We were watching two doe when another one seemingly appeared just to the right of our opening. It couldn’t get much better than this even though dark was setting in fast. I moved Riley around slowly in order to get him situated for the shot. That’s when I began to realize who was really in control. His first revelation to me was that he was not sure if he wanted to shoot this one. She seemed small and their might be a buck behind her. I understood his reasoning even though I was taken aback by his hunting wisdom. After a few seconds (that seemed like forever) he decides that he would shoot. Once again, I situated him for the shot, pushed the safety off and proceeded to prepare for whatever might happen next. But I wasn’t prepared for the next instructions he gave to his guide. “Are you going to film this?” he said. Now my heart is beating pretty fast and the doe is looking at us. I’m also trying to watch the outcome, make sure Riley doesn’t get too close to the scope, and again, it is getting dark fast. “No, Riley I’m not going to be filming you. Just shoot the deer!” He hugs up to the gun, I lean over him to watch and then just before he shoots he says, “Will you put your hands over my ears?” I do. He shoots and immediately yells “I got him!”
Now that, my friends, is how every hunt ought to be; where the memories do not come from what is in front of the gun but from what is behind it.