You don’t recognize the man in today’s photo. That’s my dad. He turned 80 a month ago, and I did not have to dress him up for this picture. I took it a couple minutes before we left for an afternoon bowhunt together. Temps at dusk would hover around zero, and it was windy to boot. Pops didn’t even question going when I called him that afternoon. He just dug into his closet and pulled out some extra layers.
So he’s a tough old Norwegian. But here’s the other thing; Dad has had one rough season. He’s been skunked more times than either of us can count. Few of the deer he’s seen have been in bow range. I’ve put him in every one of my best stands, and he’s been drubbed virtually every time. He’s having–as we like to say–“one of those years.”
But if he’s getting frustrated, I can’t tell. Well I take that back… He did sigh heavily when a local kid killed a 140″ buck out of a stand he’d been skunked in two days before. But mostly he just shrugs his shoulders and smiles. Then he tells me about the coyotes he heard, or the chickadee that entertained him from a nearby branch. Those little things are enough to keep him out there, and truly enjoying himself.
It’s tempting to believe that deer hunting is all about killing deer. Some folks take things a step further and insist that it’s all about shooting big deer. Not so. Sometimes the veterans are here to show us that punching a tag is the exclamation point on what can be a very, very long sentence. Dad’s example this season has reminded me of that. In just a few days, he’ll have to hang up his bow until next fall. I’m hoping he gets a close encounter in that too-short period of time. I don’t think dad cares, though. He just likes to hunt.