Tales from a Hunting Journal
The shots, who knows how many and who was counting anyway, were followed quickly by a crackle on the two-way, "I've got a doe down over the ridge," was the message. "Give her some time and come along the ridge trail."
I climbed out of my stand and started making my way down the trail to the corner that would afford me a vantage point along the ridge. Twenty minutes later I began the slow, careful walk along the ridge toward the other stand. After every few steps a pause and then, halfway, the radio blared, "She's a spike and just tumbled down the hill."
I made it a little farther along before my father left his stand and met me. "He jumped when he saw you and I got a good look at him. I hit him in the spine so he won't make it far."
We followed the blood trail over the ridge and down the hill. The deer had slid down into a little valley. "Wow that spike has a decent rack. Looks like at least five points."
The five-point buck was near death but still breathing. "I forgot my pack on the ATV on top of the hill. Do you have a knife so I can put him down?"
I will never forget my response, "Sure, I always carry the handmade one you bought me at the knife show."
I handed it over and my father walked over to his deer. Standing over the buck, I watched in shock as he plunged the hunting knife into the buck's heart. The blade pierced effortlessly and disappeared, as did the entire handle. My father looked at me, empty-handed, "You don't happen to have another knife, do you?"
"Why would I need another one?"
"I think I lost the other one. But it was sharp. We may need another knife to carefully dress the deer and try to find your good knife."
Suddenly the little valley turned into a hollow at the base of the mountain. I couldn't remember the slope being quite as steep on the way down nor could I recall all the stumps and deadfall. Did I really slide down those exposed roots? The ridgeline was nearly invisible against the grey sky and disappearing daylight. If I'm trudging up there to get a knife on the ATV equipped with a winch I might as well take the deer and my knife with me. And so I dragged that 5-pointed-spike-doe back up over the ridge to the backpack strapped to the ATV and found a knife to find my knife. My legs burned, my back hurt, the beer was cold, and the freezer was full, and I never brought that knife hunting again.
In this season of thanks, the time between Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas, it is a time to reflect on things great and small. These are the small stories that have have meant great things to me through the years. Time with family is the most precious and my father has always made it an adventure.