By Jerrica Bowman
My father has been deer hunting as long as I can remember. As soon as my brothers were old enough, he took them hunting, too. The deer would be processed and put in the freezer for us to eat the remainder of the year. This became an even more important after Mom died, leaving Dad to raise us four kids by himself.
I remember dreading deer season every year after Mom passed away. I hated having to go to the deer stand with Dad. I hated the cold. I hated getting in trouble every time I moved or made noise. I hated feeling like I didn’t have an option on whether I went hunting or not. So, as soon as I was old enough, I chose not to go deer hunting anymore. It didn’t bother me one bit.
Fast forward 20 years. I have been a single mom of two great kids for almost seven years at this writing. As I look back, I now understand some of the things Dad was going through as he struggled to raise the four of us. I understand how important that time of year was for him as well as the others in my family. I look back and feel ashamed of the heartache I must have caused him all those years ago with my attitude towards not only his hobby, but his way of ensuring he could afford to feed us for the next year.
This past year, I met a fantastic man named Tim, who loves me and my kids and who also has a passion for hunting. I agreed that this deer season I would go hunting with him.
I bought some hunting gear, and when muzzleloader season rolled around, we were in the stand. I hunted with him every chance I got and by the end of the season, I had shot not only a doe, but also a little 8-point buck. I didn’t think deer hunting could get any more exciting. I was wrong.
When the rifle season opened, Tim suggested I call Dad and ask if he would want to go hunting with me. I jumped at the idea. I almost cried when Dad told me how pumped up he was about going hunting with his little girl.
On the morning were supposed to go hunting, we were not able to go. We decided to hunt later that day. Now, I hadn’t had much luck on afternoon hunts, but thought that just being in the stand with Dad would be just as nice as actually seeing and shooting something. Well, almost as nice, anyway.
We headed through the woods to the stand we had chosen to sit in. It was a ground blind, so I was even more convinced we wouldn’t see anything.
We weren’t in the stand five minutes before we heard something coming. A buck, two does and a fawn came running down the trail. I was so excited! We just sat and watched them for a few minutes, snorting and stomping. Finally they spooked and ran away.
Not long after that, a doe came running down the trail at a dead run. Dad told me to get ready because she was probably being chased by a buck.
Sure enough, right behind her came a little spike. I was disappointed it wasn’t a shooter but I still excited to be in the stand with Dad, sharing this special time with him.
About 20 minutes later, another doe came running down the trail. Again, Dad told me to get ready. I had my .270 to my shoulder when a deer came around the corner.
Dad whispered, “That’s a good buck.” I didn’t even look at the antlers. All I could see through my scope was his chest. The rest of him was behind some brush.
I remember whispering to Dad, asking if it was okay to shoot. I didn’t wait for his answer! I was afraid he might say no. So I aimed and squeezed off the shot. The buck dropped in its tracks about 30 yards in front of me. Dad was out of the stand in no time, running over to check out my deer. He was all smiles.
I had taken a 9 point buck that weighed 147 pounds, field-dressed. Now, I know that doesn’t break any records, but that is one buck that will be mounted and hung over the fireplace as a constant reminder of the special time I got to spend with Dad as he shared his passion for deer hunting with me.
It will always be a precious memory and one I will never forget.