A Little Bit Late-A Little Bit Sad, Hunt Story


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It really begins season year ago. I had late October taken a nice buck with the recurve but my son, in his limited hunts, was still empty handed thru the season. It was late one evening and as I left my stand in the dark, he called asking me bring the atv to back ridge for a doe he had shot earlier the afternoon. I was a bit aggravated at first, as how does a young man in his prime need his old man come help retrieve a deer shot earlier? But I was indeed excited riding up in the dark. We high fived and celebrated as if it was the biggest trophy he ever taken. Loading it and taking to his truck, we gave each other the big hug as always as we departed. It is impressive as we age to wrap our arms around the broad muscular shoulders of your son, remembering how once, ourselves, had those broad , strong shoulders. Happy none the less.

The following August, just as I were about to fall sleep for the night ,away on vacation, the Call came. Rescue dive team had been called for response at my son’s lake house. Shock, unbelief, denial, but unfortunately would be true. He had suffered one of the seizures which with he dealt, and this time Gods Angel wrapped his arms around my sons shoulders and said “its time to come home my servant”. Words can’t describe, nor comprehend that loss.

As fall approached ,and the hunting season that always had enticed me, came near ,but it had lost its charm. I made myself go. Even sitting his stands at times. But my mind was elsewhere. I would wonder the farm, paying no attention to anything, returning to the Jeep in a stupor , vague on where I had walked. Yes the weapons were with me. I had drawn the stick bow twice at nice bucks, even once from his stand, but instead simply chose to not release its arrow.

Trips were random, but as season came near the end, I went late one evening with the ML. And once again, I stalked haphazardly, not really knowing where I intended to go, when a ghost of a buck appeared at 70 yds. Quickly I knelt, arm on knee, hammer already cocked yet no finger on the trigger just yet. I was shaking like a leaf. Never does that happen with me. The buck continued feeding and I wrestled with whether to shoot or allow his 8 to grow larger. Or if I even wanted to shoot. And what was the reason to even bother? Finally I took a deep breath, lay my finger against the trigger, and released the spark. Of course the gun bellowed, and as the smoke cleared, I saw the buck crossing the creek bottom , minus his headgear, to lay on a flat. As he expired his last breath, I wondered would this be my last deer I would take off this land, or would I somehow have the desire to return again next season. That answer still lies in a quagmire of emotions. As I ran my fingers thru the bucks thick fur as the heat left his lifeless body , my mind raced thru hundreds of memories of past times with my son. I just sat there. For a long time. Enjoying and agonizing the moment.

But I know this, of all the things my son and I experienced together in his 39 years, it is those broad-shouldered hugs we always gave each other with the “ love you” , that I remember more than anything. Well....that last deer....on our last hunt together...sure comes close.

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Just "liking" this post seemed a little belittling to me, so, I would ask you "what would your son have wanted you to do?". I would think he would want you to continue doing what you both loved and remember him every time you sit in that stand. It pays homage to him and to the love you shared. I know I do it every time I even walk through the woods.
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Doug, since the day I found out about this tragedy, I can't look at my son without thinking about you and your son. Life dealt you a blow that no man should have to endure, and I constantly admire you for the courage and intestinal fortitude that you display in dealing with something as difficult as this must be. I think Jack's post above hit on a key theme. You are doing what he would want you to do every time that you do the things you shared together with him. That goes double for being the special grandfather you are.

Thanks for reminding us how important the things we take for granted are. May God be with you and help you in all things.
Thanks for the touching tribute. I went through this with my dad’s passing in 1999, and more recently with my best friends passing Last year. At last count, my buddy and I had shared a campfire in 13 different states. My dad of course introduced me to hunting and we chased, whitetail, mule deer and elk together for decades. I’ve come to find peace hunting that helps me count the blessings of these associations. I feel like I honor them by continuing the tradition, as I know they would want. Frankly, I feel the closest to my dad when hunting with by boys, brothers and nephews. I hope you find peace and are able to find joy remembering the blessed relationships. No need to make decisions about future seasons. Enjoy the cathedral of your mountains...
Thanks for all the comments guys. I wrote this couple months ago but debated putting it out there. I don’t mean to cause sadness or even sympathy , although I appreciate that, but to remind each to give that hug and love you each time you go your separate ways. It’s the best memory ever. I know others on here of lost parents , spouses , and even children , and others and want you to know my heartfelt sympathy. Job lost 10 children in one day yet his faith never faultered.
I will move on, maybe not at this farm but somewhere. I did buy seed today so all is not lost. I’ll see him again for sure. Thanks again.

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I traveled today in gloomy weather to my son s house in north Carolina. It was he who got me into deer hunting. I brought with me the frozen meat from the deer his son killed in November. Bonds just grow deeper somehow in these activities of nature.
May you continue to find peace and calm because your bond was so deep!
God has a way of bringing good from even the most painful loss. I can't imagine the struggle you're encountering at the moment and your posts definitely make me look at my loved ones, especially my children, in a different way. Keep the faith.
Sorry for your loss...I couldn’t imagine it myself...we have 2 daughters and 4 grandsons and I worry about them all the time. If it is any condolences you will see your son again and I think he is gonna tell you “pops, I was there with you on all of your hunts!”
I lost my brother a few years ago and we both really loved to stream fish. We never really got along with each other (no one wants there little brother tagging along) But the fishing was always something that we agreed on. Absolutely every single great moment while fishing was with him! And I have not retuned to the streams since his passing. Just can't do it and I don't really want to (only way I would go again is if my daughters wanted to go) I don't really miss the fishing part of it but I really miss those walks, conversations and moments with him. It will never be the same. Its never easy to move on from something like this. Some can move on, I can't! And I am fine with it. I will always have the memories and they can't take that away from me and I don't want to make any more memories with out him on the streams.

Lost my breath while reading your post. I’m sorry for your loss. My son is 8 and we have been hunting for a few years together. This may be the year we get him his first kill, probably a pig. I look forward to making the memories that you and your son made.
Thank you for sharing

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Dogghr, it is not at all a late story but it is a very sad story. Nothing will ever be the same again. More and more though as you go about your life your remembrances of your son and the things you did together will bring peace to you. This morning as I began to read your post the sun was rising against a snowless view and the day promised to be beautiful. Before the end of reading your post grapple began to fall and one dot of it at a time quickly turned the hint of spring back to a white winter landscape. Six hours later and the grapple has melted away and the view is again one of a welcome spring coming. That is what will happen as time goes by; when you see a tree you cut together or a stand you put up or a wildflower you both enjoyed one spring, a warm and wonderful feeling will envelop you. Yes there will be sadness but there will also be joy in the remembrance of that moment or event that at the time seemed not so important but oh how important they all were. I suspect you will think of your son everyday forever but as time goes by the sadness will be more and more buffered by the joy that you each brought to each other.
I have a Son, at 17 he's bigger and taller than me, with the same broad shoulders you write about. He's got baseball training until 10PM tonight. I think I'll head over there and watch tonight. I haven't just quietly watched him practice in a long time.

Thank you for sharing your story.
Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself. I'm praying that you will find peace out in the nature that you and your son enjoyed together. And thanks for reminding me to spend more meaningful time with my son while I still can.
I had no idea and am very sorry for your loss and can't imagine what you must be going through and have already gone through.

I'm only two years younger than he was and have an 8 year old of my own. I found out I had cancer 5 years ago this June and that experience taught me to appreciate every moment. It was a terrible thing to go through, but it really put things in perspective for me. None of us are promised tomorrow and I try hard to take nothing for granted and live in the moment.

Prayers for you and yours...I know I would have wanted my dad to get out there as much as he could if I couldn't be out there with him.