Lessons From the Ol' Man Pay Off
My Ol' Man bar none is the best hunter I know, have met, or in my mind will ever meet. The man hunts on Michigan public land, does not bait and kills a deer every year, a feat not matched by anyone I know. When I was growing up he would take me with him on every occasion that didn't require me to miss school or an athletic practice. He taught me everything he knew, mostly how to gut and drag because it seemed to be that's what I did the most of. If I had a dime for every time I heard "I'll go get the truck, you just start draggin," I would be a rich man. As with many things in life it comes time for one to leave the nest and go at it alone, test the very lessons that have been passed on to us. My opportunity came as a chance to play college football, leave home, stay on campus, become a man and as fortune would have it, test my abilities as a hunter without the guidance of anyone but myself.
In Michigan, the largest bucks can be found in the private lands of the Southern farmer. A few schools had recruited me to join their ball clubs and it just so happen to be, that the one I chose, was located in the middle of all those beautiful cornfields. I had a coach who owned some land and I was able to fill my tag each of the first three years I had attended school, two 8's and 7. I was happy but, I had seen much larger deer on several occasions and when you're holding a shotgun due to state regulations things can get a little frustrating. My level of frustration would soon come to an all time high come the fall of 1996.
As my Ol' Man had always told me and reminded me on every occasion he could, you have to hunt hard if you want get a deer. Pack a lunch, stay all day, and if you are in a good spot all you have to do is wait. I had done this for three straight days and it was the same exact spot my first three kills had come from so, where were the deer? I saw a glimpse of a rear end at 9 a.m. opening morning and hadn't seen a thing since. My level of frustration only grew with each ribbing I took from my coach who had filled his tag early the first morning, anyone who has ever spent time in a hunting camp knows the ribbings I speak of. I was frustrated, tired, and after looking at it for 36 hours, had memorized every leaf, branch and blade of grass in my hunting spot. I had a decision to make, was I that guy that hunts just to say he is a hunter or was a guy who hunts because that's what he lives and breaths for. I also had another decision to make, having already skipped school on Friday to hunt, did I dare missing the same exact classes again on Monday? Well, you gotta hunt hard if you want to get your deer.
During the night I had made a decision to move about 200 yards into a spot I had never been before, I liked the spot but, after three years of killing deer where I was, why would I move. Daylight came and just the same as the three days prior, not a hair. I began to get this feeling that it just wasn't going happen this year, it wasn't meant to be and the ever popular excuse, all the deer have been shot. I had never hunted this hard before, I was either too young and didn't have to or I had filled my tag early enough to not have to worry about it. Over and over again, I kept telling myself "You gotta hunt hard, you gotta hunt hard." One comment my Father had made years before kept me on stand that day, "You never know when the biggest buck of your life is going to show up." It just so happens that not only did a big buck show up, the biggest buck I had ever seen showed up, one of those television bucks, the ones they shoot after they pass up all the small ones that anybody in their right mind would shoot. He went down after a few slugs to the chest and after the guttin and draggin which, I actually think was harder than waiting him out, I sent him off to be mounted, a trophy buck, a buck of a lifetime a "Wall Hanger," as my Ol Man would say.
I moved far away a few years back and though it's not the same as it used to be, I still spend a great deal of time in the woods. Recently I have shot a trophy Moose and this passed year I got my first bear, all goals that I had because all I ever wanted to do was be as good as the Ol' Man. After years and years I have realized that goal is not obtainable, as I said in my opening, he's the best and that's all there is too it. If I could ever get to be half of the man he is in the woods, people would consider me a great man of the woods. Thanks Dad, not only do I owe this trophy to you, I owe every trophy to you, thanks for the lesson.