By Greg Biggerstaff
-- Hunting has been a yearly tradition in my family since 2003. Each October, my wife and I meet with my uncle Chris and my grandfather, Roy Biggerstaff. In 2006, my wife, Yvonne, and I had our best season. She took her first buck, and I took my biggest.
My father, Lee, is an avid Harley rider. In 2007, he got back into hunting after 20 years. He missed a big buck and couldn’t figure out what had happened. Chris took a look at the rifle and found out the scope had a floating reticle. He borrowed one of Chris’ guns, and killed four bucks, including a nice 8 point and a big 6 point.
We were all pumped for the 2008 season. Then on Aug. 1, things took a turn for the worse. My dad lives outside of Charlotte, N.C., and was riding his Harley one afternoon, when someone pulled across three lanes of traffic and sideswiped him. His right leg was severely injured.
After many unsuccessful operations, he ended up losing part of his leg below the knee. He had to go through a lot of physical therapy and get fitted for a prosthetic leg.
I was sure he would not make the annual hunt, nor did I care. If he couldn’t make it, I wasn’t going to go, either. But dad said if he had to roll himself to a spot in the woods in a wheelchair, he was going. He is the toughest man I know.
My wife and I headed to the hunting property, and dad came, too. He had his prosthetic leg and was walking with crutches. I had never been as impressed with him as I was then. It is hard to see your father in that condition when you grow up thinking he is Superman.
The hunt started on a Monday morning, and I actually walked my dad to his stand. I knew it was tough for him because he had to walk all the way in on crutches in the dark. It is hard for me to walk around in the dark with two good legs, much less one leg and crutches. But my dad is not the average guy. He is tougher than nails and has a drive and spirit that you don’t see in people anymore.
I had to help him get in and out of his stand. By the end of the week, my dad was doing it all on his own with no help. I could not have been more proud of him. Not only did he do all of that, but he also managed to take five deer that week! He got a 4 point, a 3 point and three does. Not bad for a guy with one good leg and who had only been walking again for a month.
My wife, who was 6 months pregnant, also got a small button buck. I wound up with a 7 point, a 4 point, and a button buck.
I left with a feeling of satisfaction knowing that my dad would be OK. I almost broke down when I first saw him without his leg. But I knew that would only make things worse. Instead, I challenged him to outshoot me, and we would see who got the most deer. If you do the count, you can see that he spanked me. I got outdone and outclassed by a man that showed me that nothing was going to stop him from doing what he loves.
To make things even better, he called me a couple of weeks later and told me he had gone for a ride on his other Harley earlier that day. I hope he knows what he means to me and the rest of the family and what an inspiration he is to all of us.
Once during our hunting trip I asked him if he wanted me to carry his pack or rifle to take some of the load off. My dad just smiled and told me if he didn’t keep doing it by himself, he was only crippling himself and that he was no cripple, he was just a little slower now.
I am having a son at the beginning of next year, and he will be named after a great man, his grandfather. I can’t wait until next season so I can get even with dad on the deer count and to just be able to toast to another great week in the field with my family.
I will be going to Iraq again next year but I should make it back just in time to do the annual trip. I also hope to be able to go riding one day soon with dad. Two Harley Davidsons rumbling down the road, father and son side by side, just like at the deer stand that first morning.
I have had the privilege of helping my dad drag his first 8 point buck out of the woods, be his best man at his wedding to my stepmother, have him as my best man at my wedding, and growing up with him as my influence.
The true measure of a man is not how he goes through life, but how he handles what life deals him and is able to persevere for the betterment of his family and loved ones. That is my dad, and I love and respect him very much.
Editor’s Note: The author’s father passed away June 2, 2009 at the age 54. Before he died, he read a similar story written by Greg, which appeared on this website in 2006.
"If you ever did read the story I submitted," Greg wrote in an email, you will understand what my dad meant to me. I was an only child, and he was a single parent. So you can imagine how close we were. I am very grateful that I did send the copy of the story to him, and he got to read it before he passed away."