Thanks for taking me hunting, Mom

Guest Post

The temperature outside was eleven above. The wind chill was eleven below. To a seven year-old, it was perfect. Snow scuttled across the highway in streams and waves. The small boy in the backseat peered eagerly through binoculars for the better part of the drive.

I put the truck in 4-wheel drive as I turned off the road. Snow-covered tracks lead up to the first draw, where we’d begin. After donning coat, gaiter, hat, snow pants, and gloves, the small boy jumped out of the truck and raced to the back for his bb gun. I put the eager boy in charge of the backpack filled with essentials, prepped my rifle, and we started across the field.

The draw was steep. Arched tufts of grass bore the weight of the snow, rebounding from our steps as we made our way down. We navigated under branches, around saplings, and over fallen twigs. All the while, the small boy most properly held his bb gun.

“Thanks for taking me hunting, mom.”

As we reached the bottom of the draw, the ground turned to ice and bore the evidence of a small brook, frozen mid-navigation in small bubbles and flats. Footprints in the snow darted here and there. We walked past small thickets and through woody brush, patches of brome grass and native shrubs. Trees swayed and creaked in the wind. Even in the bottoms, we were not sheltered from the raw North Dakota gusts. We observed the tracks as they ascended the hill, knowing they continued across the field above and then into the cornfield across the road.

We wandered across the hills and into the next draw, coming up at a clearing full of footprints. The air in the clearing was still, magically sheltered from the wind. We paused to take a photo, where the small child noticed the orange tape in the backpack. I explained how the orange tape is used to mark our trail, and tore off several pieces so the excited boy could begin tying them to branches as we navigated through the trees.

“Thanks for taking me hunting, mom.”

Strolling past a lone pine tree, we descended into an even steeper draw. “You should go around that way, mom. This branch is too low for you.” “Follow me, mom. I know where I’m going,” he expertly declared. I smiled at his assertion.

We came up to the boundary fence, a new feature to the landscape since the days of my childhood. I explained how the hill would continue to the lake shore and how I’d explored it when I was young. The boy paused to tie an orange ribbon to a branch. We veered away from the fence and ascended a hill on the outskirt of the trees.

“Can I tie one here, mom?” He paused to tie another orange ribbon. He handed me is gun in the manner of a true marksman, and I marveled for a moment at how properly he’d done so, and how he’d so carefully carried his bb gun throughout the entire journey. He looked so proud and responsible when he assumed his gun again.

We emerged from the trees and onto the hayed field atop the draws. I pointed to the cornfield across the road and drew the boy’s eyes across the field where we stood to the draws where we’d seen the trails. A dense thicket capped the top of a steep, narrow draw, and as we made our way along the edge of the slope, a robust doe bounded out of the thicket and through the field opposite us. It bounced away so quickly the small boy nearly thought it was a dog at first. He marveled at the white tail of the deer as it disappeared down the hill. We walked around the thicket, following the doe’s footprints across the field. The grass stood tall, not yet weighted down by snow, and the small child playfully ducked and hid among the grasses.

“Thanks for taking me hunting, mom.”

Presently, the small child became aware that his ears had grown cold. We hastened the trek to the truck, secured our firearms, disrobed of our outermost layer, and hopped in, thirty minutes shy of sundown. We warmed our ears and cheeks in the comfort of a relative’s home a short jaunt down the road. As we headed back home with a resolution to return the following weekend, a voice of gratitude imparted, “Thanks for taking me hunting, mom.”

 

Carleen Soule majored in Biology with an Aquatic Emphasis and has worked for Ducks Unlimited since 2008. She lives in the heart of the Duck Factory and enjoys many opportunities to “go find some birds.” In addition to chasing waterfowl and upland birds, Carleen also enjoys fishing, camping, and bow hunting. She is the proverbial Soccer Mom, PTO President, and a member of the Bis-Man Stilettos – a service group in heels. Carleen is also a permaculture gardener and a rabid DIYer who is not afraid to try something she’s seen on TV.

2 comments to Thanks for taking me hunting, Mom

  • CarlaMarie  says:

    That is so awesome! I am very glad you got to take him out!!!

  • LayneK  says:

    What an amazing story and nothing better than spending a day out in the field with your little guy or gal. Thanks for sharing!

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