My Memories: Daddy
This evening John and I took the kids to Trunk or Treat at their school. Raelynn was Cleopatra and Dillon was a character from the game Halo. They each received a lot of candy and we saw a lot of cute and clever costumes. It was all around a fun evening.
The drive home was filled with beauty; the fall leaves, the crisp air , the kids laughing and comparing their candy and we saw many deer out and about. This time of the year (and anytime I see deer), brings my dad to my mind even more than usual.
Dad was an avid deer hunter and he was passionate about the sport, but beyond that he loved and respected the animal in and of itself. Outside of deer hunting season he enjoyed scouting, observing and tracking the deer in the area. He would learn their patterns, behaviors and he would monitor the same deer throughout the year, finding characteristics to distinguish one from the other. I remember one year he drew pictures of the bucks that he was tracking (drawing was another talent of dad’s). I am blessed to have these drawings still to this day.
When hunting season was in, you could guarantee that he would be in the woods from sun-up to sun-down, taking a small break in between to have a bite to eat. While dad did hunt with a gun, he also really enjoyed bow hunting. He felt hunting with a bow was more challenging and required a different set of skills and patience that perhaps not every hunter had.
I never went deer hunting with dad, it was never my cup of tea and thinking back, I wish I would have taken more interest in such things, as I know he would have loved to have a child that enjoyed the outdoorsy things that he was so passionate about and to pass on all the knowledge he had gathered through the years to. That being said, I know my dad loved me for who I was and I don’t think he ever felt ‘jipped’.
Even though I did not participate much in my dad’s hunting adventures, I do have two memories that distinctly stick out to me. The first was when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old and it was around 8:00 in the evening and during this time of the year, that meant it was completely dark outside. My dad came rushing into the house and said he had shot a buck, the buck darted away, but it was injured and bleeding. He tracked the blood trail as far as he could, but it had gotten dark outside and he needed me to stand where the blood trail began, while he followed it with a flashlight, this way he wouldn’t lose the starting point.
I remember him taking me to the spot in the woods where the blood started, he handed me a flashlight and told me to stay there. Keep in mind: I was a child, in the dark, in the middle of the woods, alone...but I put on a brave face and said "ok". I remember being scared (not terrified, but scared) and would shine my beam of light at every little noise I heard. I am not sure how long I stood there, but I know it felt like an eternity and I kept thinking in my mind, “please hurry, please hurry.” Eventually my dad did return, without the buck, he had lost the trail and could not find it. I knew he was disappointed. To make matters worse, while standing there waiting on him, I had apparently shuffled around so much that I had completely muddled up the ground below me and the blood was no longer visible. You could no longer tell where the blood began and I knew I had added to my dad’s let down. As an adult, I realize now this is minor in comparison to losing the deer altogether and that my dad probably wasn’t as upset as I had imagined as a child, but that night in that moment, I felt I had failed him.
The next memory, while not nearly as adventurous, sticks out to me for a different reason. My dad had shot a deer, this time it was a doe, and he had drug it out of the woods in the pouring rain. He was soaked, tired and needed to gut the deer as quickly as possible so the meat would not spoil. Dad came into the house in a hurry, gathered an assortment of kitchen knives and said, “Amber, come on, I need your help.” In the middle of our yard, dad hung the doe from a tree and handed me the knives. I stood there, enveloped by the unwavering rain, handing him knives upon request, while he did his handy work, not unlike a surgical tech handing tools to a surgeon. This seems such a small thing, but I remember it all these years later. In my mind, as a child, I felt I had somewhat redeemed myself from the blood trail debacle and had made my dad proud. And nothing feels better to a child than making their parent proud!
© 2020 Amber Spears