Another hunt with dad

Numbers are an integral part of our lives. Our checkbooks, our productivity, and how we measure business success are all based upon numbers. Temperature, grades, and the outcome of sporting events all involve numbers. Some of us have a “favorite” number. This may be associated with good fortune or perhaps has something to do with something nostalgic. One of my hunting companions has a continuous saga with the time 3:08. He may wake from a deep sleep to look at the clock and it is eerie how many times it is exactly 3:08. He has mentioned it so many times to me that it has rubbed off, for I also have had this happen. I’m not sure if there is any significance to this or any other number incident but I have an experience that seems to have relevance, at least to me, with a commonality of numbers. Here’s my story.

The last three years of my dad’s life were pretty tough on him. His mind and ability to communicate was great. His physical state was a different story though. He accepted this and did the best he could with the hand he had drawn. I mention this only to set the stage for what occurred on a daily basis during hunting season.

Dad was an avid outdoorsman. He adored what is also so dear to me and you as well. His physical limitations finally got the upper hand confining him to his bed at home never allowing him the opportunity to cluck to a gobbler or stop a rutting buck in the field again. He was a man of great adaptation and he found a way to continue the hunt without walking the ridges and swamps that meant so much to him. This is where I had a role in the continuation of his hunting adventures and how numbers played a part.

Dad would call, without fail, every afternoon during deer season. His first question would always be, “Did you hunt today?” If my answer was yes he would then begin asking things like, “Where did you go? Why did you go there? What did you see?” He would relate how the birds started “moving” at a particular time and relate this to deer movement. Many times he would reprimand me for hunting a stand too many times in a row or hunting it with a questionable wind. I wish I had a dollar for every time he told me I should have known better than to go there, do this, or do that, and so on. Truthfully though, most of the time he was right.

 

My dad took his largest buck of his hunting career on December 16, 1966. I saw the biggest buck I have ever seen four years ago on December 17. As usual, he called after the hunt and I shared my story with him. He offered advice on every aspect of my next hunt for this buck. Watch your wind, get in there early, don’t make any noise getting in there, were just a few examples of his offerings.

Heeding his advice, I settled in to see if this buck would show himself again. At 4:20 p.m., three does and a yearling walked right under me headed to a food plot. I had seen these same deer with the buck I mentioned earlier so I was hopeful he would return. Ten minutes later I heard a buck rubbing a tree behind me. He traveled the same path as the does and stopped, offering a perfect shot to me. As nice as this buck was, he was just a four-year-old. I let him pass. I was still shaking my head questioning my decision when I heard a twig snap. For a moment I thought the buck I had just let go had returned. The brow tines were longer on this buck and I remember telling myself, “You can’t let em all go.” This is where it gets really cool.

I sent a message to my hunting companion that I had just shot a buck. We agreed to meet at dark. I planned to sit a little while longer and possibly shoot a doe but as I kept looking at him I couldn’t take it any longer. As soon as I put my hands on him I knew what I had to do next. There was a phone call to be made.

Mom answered the phone and I asked her to put me on speaker phone. Dad’s voice came through loud and clear and I related every detail of the hunt. When I told him I had just shot the biggest buck of my hunting career I started choking up. Then I heard mom sniffle and it took a minute for all of us to regain our composure. It was a moment I’ll always treasure as we made another hunt “together.”

 

Later that night a group of my friends scored the buck. Our first scoring was 182 inches. We scored him a second time and came up with 182 again. Ironically, this was also my 182nd buck of my hunting career. To add another twist, my dad happened to be 82 years old at that time. Were all of these “82s” coincidental? It’s possible but I think there is much more to this than coincidence. I will always remember that day and these numbers will stick with me forever.

Do you have an experience where a number brings something of significance to mind? Has something similar happened in your life that you can relate to? Who knows if there is something deeper and just maybe it will all make sense one day? For now though, it makes for a neat story. I hope you enjoyed.

Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.

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