Snickers from a Tree
As I sit here debating about what I want to share with our readers in this blog, the obvious jumping-off point seems to be where my passion for hunting began. Many of us began hunting the same way, with our dads. I cherish that time spent in the woods with my old man. Since I can remember, I have always looked forward to October and was depressed when the first week of January got here. It’s not that hunting was the only time that we spent together. Other than work and school, we were always together, but hunting was an activity that we shared and I always felt that our experience couldn’t be understood by anyone but us.
When I was little, I referred to our hunting trips as “camping,” and I used to be completely distraught when I wasn’t allowed to go “camping” with my old man. My family even has a home video of me shoveling my Thanksgiving dinner onto the floor as I pout being excluded from a trip to our old hunting trailer with my Dad and Uncle. After being told numerous times to stop acting like a brat, I was shown the error of my ways. At the time it was hard for me to wrap my young mind around this punishment for a clear exclusion from the “camping” trip, but today I can see the humor in my drive to hang out with my Dad.
I’d be lying if I said that every hunting trip ended with my Dad shooting a giant buck with his PSE compound bow or calling in a turkey so close that you can feel that bird spitting and drumming in your chest. Our time spent in the woods for the first few years (while I was still learning) consisted mostly of me talking about how bored I was or how cold I was and if we were going to be eating lunch anytime soon. My dad’s favorite story to tell is dropping Snickers bars (still my favorite candy) on my head from his tree-stand and me whispering “thanks Daddy” from under him on the ground. Rather than letting this ruin his hunt, my dad always fostered that sense of camaraderie, which is exactly why I hold hunting in such high esteem.
My old man definitely took his fair share of opportunities to get even with me for disrupting his time in the woods. Dad and the old codgers at the hunting club we were members of loved to send the youngsters of the group “Snipe hunting” while they sat back to drink beer and play cards. The game consisted of sending a gullible kid out to the end of the culvert pipes in the camp driveways. We were then instructed to hold a plastic bag over the opening of the pipe while the older guys banged on the porch for a few minutes to scare the Snipes out of their hiding places and into our eagerly waiting traps. I’d spend whole afternoons with my empty bag waiting for the Snipes, while my dad and his buddies finished off their cases of beer. While this may seem like a cruel prank to some of you, I can tell you with great conviction that Snipe hunting never negatively affected my relationship with my dad, or my memories of our “camping” trips.
As I grew older, my Dad and I reached a more equal playing field on our hunts, which created a mutual respect between us. He still taught me every trip, but those learning experiences (some of them stern) helped me appreciate just getting to spend time with Dad. Those trips grew from a young hunter annoying his Dad without really participating, into a way to gain knowledge from the companion I admired most while also valuing our time together. As I got older I was able to appreciate the distinction more and really began to take lessons away with the closing of each season. My entire outlook and appreciation of the outdoors was sparked by a camping trip with my Dad, and that enthusiasm is what helped me evolve into the hunter and outdoorsman I am today.