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by Stephen Galan a.k.a. SGalan Last updated: 2016-09-23 15:27:13
Start ‘Em Early
As I’ve grown older, a thought has grown more and more prevalent in my mind. The most important thing we can pour our life into in this life is other people. Our children are some of the most important people on the planet…at least to us. When my son (Samuel) was three I began taking him to the woods with me. Due to the noise he often generated, those trips were more like long visits to the woods than hunting. I often prayed for an old, deaf buck to show up! Later on, I began to realize how important these trips really were and are. He is the next generation of American. If we intend for this great sport of hunting to remain legal, we need to emphasize its importance to our children. This is best done by experiencing it! As important as that is, it’s not the primary focus of this short article. Rather, I am referring to the impact that time spent in the woods with a parent can have on children. Samuel has been with me on plenty of trips. We are not greedy. We just want one more trip. Always. Just one more. On those trips, we’ve discussed many things. Some were important, some were not. Some seemed insignificant at the time, but may have been anything but. Once, he witnessed me dispatch a mortally wounded (spine shot) deer so that it would not suffer and it impacted him deeply. I had him wait 10-15 yards away while I took care of what had to be done. He was quiet for a while. Later he asked, “Daddy, why did you need to use your knife? Why did you put your hand on his neck and sit next to the buck as it died? You looked a little sad.” These questions open a big place in a young boy’s mind and heart. It’s a good place too. You get to discuss responsibility, compassion, and conscientiousness. The hunting woods can be a great classroom. One of our latest hunts really tested and grew his patience.
We had arrived at the hunting area before sunrise and settled in. Shortly after sunrise, a young buck showed up that I had identified as a prospect for culling. He was a 2 x 2 with no brow tines. Samuel was more than ready to shoot. Over and over he begged me to take him. He fed in the area most of the morning but was outside of my range. I was carrying the open sight 4 5/8” .44 Special. For me, I like shots 35 yards and under, so I opted to wait. Samuel was having nothing of it. I assured him that I would shoot if the buck left on a trail that brought him close enough and we discussed the ethics of waiting for the best shot possible. That’s what a good hunter does. I honestly did not expect the buck to move into range. The main trails that crisscrossed the open section of woods connected two bedding areas. In order for the buck to come in range, he would need to take just the right trail, one of many.
As luck would have it, the buck finally made his move that would, indeed, put him broadside at the outer limit of my range. As I slipped the Ruger from the leather holster I could almost feel Sam’s heartbeat increase. I positioned the revolver and waited to cock the hammer until the buck reached the one spot I was waiting for. As he stepped into the lane, I eased it back. Click, click…click. The buck stopped and gave us that, “Hey, what was that?” look. I placed the front-sight on the sweet spot and squeezed. The buck crashed off into brush heading for his bedding area. However, I remembered the last moment of the front sight before the recoil. It was good. As I looked over at Sam, his wide eyes asked the question for him - Did you get him? I whispered to him, “I think we got him, let’s give it a few minutes though.” “Dad, I knew he’d come closer. I just knew it!” he giggled.
As we approached the spot where I shot I could see lung blood on the cactus. The 260 grain Keith/Thompson bullet had done its work again. I let Samuel find the trail and slowly, we started after the buck. It’s kind of nice to have a little “bird dog” to crawl on his hands and knees in thick brush. He sure fits through it better than me anyhow! About 30 yards ahead, I could see the white belly. I let Samuel keep “bird dogging” until he cried out that he’d seen him. We approached the deer and took a few pictures. Then we unloaded, field dressed the deer and drug him out. I’ll sure be glad when he is big enough to do that part too!
That same year we had another encounter that was even better, although no blood was shed. We had spent the afternoon hunting and seen no deer. On the long walk out he commented, “Dad, I sure wish we could’ve seen a big buck.” “Me too son” I agreed. “However, some things are special because they are rare” I said. He just looked up with that inquisitive look. “Some things are really special because we don’t get to do them all the time. Believe it or not, shooting bucks is the same way.” I said. He shook his head no and said, “Not true Daddy.” Now I had the inquisitive look. “What do you mean?” I asked. He thought for a second and then replied, “Well, I get to go with you to do things all the time and every time is special to me.”
I say, start ‘em early on hunting lessons…the lessons go both ways.
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