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Season to Remember

RiveraBy Ezekiel Rivera

-- My brother, Isaac, drove all the way from Florida to hunt with me during Pennsylvania’s deer season. From the outset, we had a feeling this year would be different.

Eager for a change of pace, my family and I moved to a house in the country in July. We were tired of life in the city. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and having animals to tend. I fell in love with the house and all the land around it. It reminded me of my home in the Caribbean with lots of hills and trees.

One day I was talking to my landlord about the hoof prints I saw in the woods.  I asked if he’d ever seen deer on his 20 acres. He replied with a large grin, “Oh yes.”

I asked if I could hunt on his property. When he gave me permission, I was overwhelmed at the thought of hunting my own back yard!

In the weeks leading up to the season, my brother and I walked the woods, looking for deer sign. We found a small creek and a bedding area. It seemed perfect. We felt confident that this would be our year.

The first day of hunting season, we prepared our gear, opened my kitchen door and headed off to the woods. As I walked through the forest, moving between trees and climbing over logs, my memory took me back to my childhood when I ran carefree in the woods behind our home.

My brother and I found a spot and waited. The first two days passed with much anticipation. As hunters, we never lose hope. Each day brings a new beginning. The greatest thing about hunting is that, with each hunt, there’s always a feeling of optimism – a belief that “This will be my day.”

Three days into the season, Isaac and I went out believing we would find our buck. We did just as we had done the other two days: We found our spot by a tree and waited.

About two hours later, we spotted a buck about 40 yards away. I signaled to my brother to take the shot since he had come all the way from Florida to hunt with me. I watched as Isaac slowly and nervously raised his rifle and looked through his scope. He looked at me again and signaled a second buck – a beautiful 9-pointer bigger than the first.

He peered through his scope, finding the perfect shot and took it. We were so thankful and excited at that moment. Finally, after many years of trying to get our buck, we did it!

We watched the buck pull back and run down toward my house. I told Isaac he’d made a great shot.

We walked about 20 yards and found the buck, a dream come true.

We are anxious for next year so we can share another adventure.

-- Ezekiel Rivera

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