As I begin to get ready for this rifle season I start to think back on the successful hunt I had last year. If many of you aren't too familiar our part of the country isn't exactly known for monster whitetail. Growing up over the years hunting this great state I began to resent that fact, yet I still made it a point to never miss an opener. Last year was no exception. However, it was a much different feeling than the year before.
As I packed my truck to head to camp my son came running out to me to wish me luck and tell me goodbye. As I left he handed me a small red plastic dragon. Not the biggest toy he had but definitely one of his favorites. He looked up at me and said "Daddy, I want you to take this for good luck"! and into my pocket it went.
As we sat at camp I did the usual things we typically do. Hang out way too late on Saturday night playing cards and drinking a few beers. Waking up Sunday and relaxing while watching football. What was completely new to me was the fact that all weekend long all I could think about was my son and how happy he would be if I came home with a buck. It was odd because it's the first time in my life I wasn't doing something I loved with only myself in mind. It was almost as if my only reason for being there was to get something so I could see the look on his face when I got home.
Well, opening morning came and I found a nice spot on a little pipeline to watch. It wasn't long until movement caught my eye and I noticed a deer sneaking into the far side. As I looked closer I could see it was a buck but couldn't tell if he was legal so I had no choice but to let him pass. I guess that little dragon did it's job because not 5 minutes after he went into the woods he came back out. In one shot it was all over and my buck was down. All in all it was actually a pretty uneventful hunt.
Normally, I take a pic or call my buddies on the radio and fill them in...not this time. Instead, I called my little buddy up at home and broke the news to him. The excitement in his voice was unmistakable. It was at that very moment that I realized that as we age and change as hunters, so does our outlook on the sport and how we measure it's success.
To tell you the truth my memories and smiles used to be filled with full freezers and visions of monster whitetails...today...it's filled with these, and I wouldn't change it for the world.