Hunting season being upon us, and while the sounds of rifle shots are echoing among the hills and truck campers go by hauling deer and moose, I recall a few memorable hunts of my own.
To start with, my dad gave me a single shot .22 when I was about 12 (which I still own to this day), and I began to develop a hunter’s instinct and feel the thrill of bagging my own game.
In those days it was partridge or the odd rabbit.
So when I got my first 12-gauge shotgun, a single shot Cooey, I started after ducks in earnest. I scraped together from my meager savings enough to buy a female mallard decoy. Setting it out on the lake and hiding behind a tree, I waited.
Before long and to my delight, a male mallard came right to it. But just as he spread his wings for a landing, my dog Sparky raised his head for a looksee. I grabbed him by the ear to pull him down and he let out a painful yelp! That beautiful drake took off like a bat out of hell and my trophy vanished. A disappointed young fellow I was then.
Once my buddy Bud and I were out walking down some railroad tracks when we met his cousin coming from the opposite direction.
“How’d you make out?” we asked. “I got 10,” he replied. (In those days the limit was 10).
Another time after a successful deer hunt, we young guys full of pride, paraded our bag around town draped over our two cars. The guy in front slammed on his brakes suddenly and we banged into him. The antlers of our buck hooked into his bumper good. The well-embraced dead buck locked forever in a raging rut with a coupe. Much to our embarrassment, we had to borrow a hacksaw to get him loose and carry on.
My final hunt proved to be a great success. I was on a run while a couple of the boys dogged through the bush to chase out deer.
A bear came out first and stopped to sniff the air. I had him in my sights, but a debate raged on in my head whether I should shoot him or not. Some part of me resisted, but then it came to mind that hey, I was a hunter here and this was fair game. So I dropped him with a shot right between the eyes.
About 15 minutes later a beautiful big buck with a great rack came bouncing along right in front of me, the gift of a perfect shot and I dropped him too, about 10 feet from the bear.
As I stood looking over these two magnificent animals I was, to my surprise, overwhelmed with grief. What had I done?
Well that was my last hunt, I put my guns away and never went back to it. We take life for what reason? In my case, brought up in an environment that lead to much bravado on killing creatures for food or sport, it all made sense at the time. It doesn’t now.
Robert Nichol is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Advisor.