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Opening Day
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Thread: Opening Day

  1. #1

    Opening Day

    Opening Day

    I was ten years old, and dying to shoot something.

    All the previous summer, my dad had taught me how to shoot, and care for a rifle, and what tracks different animals made, and all of the other lore that generations before had passed along to their heirs.

    Hunting season was finally here. It was cool, but not cold, and I remembered to dress in layers so that I could shuck my overshirt if I got too warm. I even put on extra socks inside my almost-new hunting boots, so my feet would stay warm if we had to cross a creek or two. Those boots were only three weeks old, my dad had waited until right before the season to buy them for me since my feet were growing so fast.

    We both carried .22's, I had the lever action with which I'd learned to shoot, and dad with his favorite bolt action. I noticed dad putting a revolver in his waist-pack, and I asked him about it.

    "In case we need a killing shot," he answered quietly, and I gave it no more thought.

    I was too excited at the prospect of bringing home a fistful of squirrel to worry about the details. Dad's hunting was, if not an absolutely necessary addition to our grocery supplies, certainly a significant help to it, and I was more than eager to shoulder some of the responsibility.

    Dad kissed mom goodbye, and we headed out. After walking down the road about a mile, we cut across a corn-stubble field to the back of Uncle Don's place, a large wooded plat with a creek running through it. I'd begun to get warm during the walk, but when we got into the woods and lost most of our sun, I was glad I'd worn the heavier shirt.

    At his command I showed my dad my gun was loaded, and he picked out a couple of trees for us to sit against while we waited for the squirrels to come back after we'd disturbed them.

    Quietly we waited, and over the next five or ten minutes I became aware of the sounds of the woods. Birds whirring by overhead, a woodpecker in the distance, the wind through the last of the brown leaves. The squirrels, obeying their instincts, eventually came back to their task of gathering nuts, occasionally stopping to play chase-the-tail. Three of them were slowly working their way toward our trees.

    Dad caught my eye, and nodded to me to get ready. I slowly raised my rifle, and watched them come closer.

    I picked out the biggest target, and began to watch him in particular. I saw he had a habit of pausing before he jumped from limb to limb.

    He was probably thirty yards away when he jumped onto a limb that gave me my best opportunity for a shot, and I rapidly raised my rifle the rest of the way. As he approached the end of the limb nearest the trunk, I was tracking him in my sights.


    He dropped from the tree to the ground, thrashing a little as he hit. All of the other squirrels disappeared, taking cover, trying to figure out what had happened.

    After just a few seconds, my father began to get to his feet.

    I felt funny. I wasn't all excited like I thought I would be, jumping up to put fresh meat in my game-bag. I didn't understand what was wrong with me.

    Dad walked over, and reached out his hand to help me up. I made sure the rifle was safe, and took his hand, getting to my feet.

    Dad gave me a quizzical look, and turned toward the newly dead squirrel.

    I resolutely set out to retrieve my kill, but I wasn't at all sure if I was happy about it or not. We walked to the base of the tree where the squirrel lay.

    I stood there looking down at the squirrel, lifeless and small, for what seemed like an eternity but must have only been for a few seconds.

    "This is when I usually thank God for the skill to put food on the table," my dad said solemnly, and everything fell into place.

    This wasn't something you did for fun. There was a skill to it, and a necessity, and a part of a larger plan in which man had to provide for his own survival.

    I learned a lot that opening day.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Land of the Rolling Tide
    Another good one, actually Iread them all, the are all good.

  3. #3
    I'll admit you had me grinding my teeth in anticipation of what I "just knew" was coming at the end.

    Thanks for misleading me.

    Well said.

  4. #4
    I learned a lot that opening day.


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