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WHY WE HUNT Part II
Thomas Demands To Go Hunting On A Rainy Day
Why do you hunt? Thomas knows…
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, two weeks before Christmas. We had not taken Thomas hunting since the afternoon of opening day. Just after lunch at Nanny’s, he had started asking if we could go hunting today. My answer was …………. little buddy, it’s raining, when it stops we’ll go for a while.
It was raining pretty hard and didn’t look as though it would stop. I figured he would go play with his trucks or pirate ship and forget about hunting. But, he continued to ask. About every 45 minutes, he’d return with the same question. Finally, I said, “Thomas it’s still raining. If we go hunting, we’ll get wet.” He replied with a smiling, “OK!” So we gathered our stuff, rain gear in hand, and headed to the blind. Everything was soaked, the blind, the chairs. We dumped the water out of the chairs and covered them with garbage bags, unzipped the windows, then settled in for the remainder of the afternoon.
The wind was blowing from the northwest. Sometimes the rain came straight down and sometimes it was sideways. I know some of you are thinking ……..what a great day to be outdoors! And, it was.
Thomas was checking along the edge of the field with binoculars when a drop of rain fell from the top of the blind and hit him. He looked at me and with concern said, “Somebody splashed me.” Laughing inside, I said, “No one splashed you, little buddy, it’s the rain coming through the top of the blind.” He smiled and went back to checking the field.
With the cloudy-rainy afternoon and hunting in the blind, instead of a stand, it was darker than normal. After 40 minutes of hunting from his chair, he hung up the binoculars and crawled into my lap to look out the window. There were a couple of rifle shots about a half mile to our south east, he said maybe the deer will come our way. I replied, maybe so. He smiled, nodded his head and continued to watch out the window. The rain was still coming down and the drops that were working their way through the top of the blind had increased. I put my cap on him so their splash wouldn’t get into his eyes. He leaned his head back on my chest, looked up and said, “Pops, let’s sing Jingle Bells.” So, we did. We sang Jingle Bells a couple of times. Then, Frosty the Snowman, Jesus Loves Me two or three times, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Then he requested we sing Shenandoah.
When Thomas was a baby, he’d sit in my lap for hours and I’d sing and/or hum, Shenandoah, Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace to him, over and over. He’d eventually go to sleep and sometimes wake up as soon as I’d stop. I guess it was kind of like sleeping with a fan on, it was just a noise.
Before we got to the end of Shenandoah, he was asleep and there was still time to hunt. I sat there, hugged him close to me and begin to think about the memories we had created together that day.
Thoughts of my newest hunting memories began to change to recollections of past hunts. I forgot about looking out the window and started reliving memories of past hunts. An early 80s Thanksgiving Day afternoon hunt with my dad, in a shooting house near the Allen Hollow at Leggtown. Thinking about the deer we had seen and our talk about getting back to the house for mama’s turkey and dressing that we could almost smell cooking. Remembering that our hunting permit stated that we could deer hunt as long as CS didn’t see us, caused me to laugh to myself and recall the humor of the neighbor who owned the property.
One thought began to build on another. This same shooting house is where my youngest son, Tommy, went on his first deer hunt in 1985, also at the age of three. Thinking of him following me up the hill from where we parked at the neighbor’s house, through the woods to the field on top. He was quiet as a mouse. I was taking short strides so he could keep up and didn’t realize he was stepping in my footsteps. Remembering the deer we saw that morning, his wanting for us to shoot a spike and finally agreeing that we’d wait for a larger one, which never showed up. He curled up in a blanket to take a nap before we headed back down the hill to the truck.
Thinking of the Allen Hollow, brought back memories of a story that my grandmother told me. On December 7th, 1941, she & Daddy Horace were walking up the hollow to visit neighbors. When they arrived at the neighbors’ house, the radio announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor had just started. Mama Jewel recalled of their walk back home and talking of the uncertainty of what was to come in the following days.
This same hollow, on the opposite hill from our deer hunts, was where I went on my first squirrel hunt with my dad when I was a second grader and used Daddy Horace’s single barrel 16 gauge.
About the time I was revisiting the bruised shoulder, I noticed that is was almost dark. I don’t even remember looking out the window again after the recollecting began, but it was now time to get back to the current hunt. It was time to wake Thomas, so he and I could get our stuff together to head back to the house.
The reason I hunted on this day was to continue to pass on the tradition. But, it ended up being more than that. It was to create new memories with my grandson. As well as, relive a past hunt with my youngest son and recall old memories of times with family and friends who are no longer with us.
See: Why We Hunt Part I (Thomas goes hunting on opening day)