With today being father’s day, I am often reminded of the blessings I received because my dad was an “outdoors loving” dad! If there was any type of hunting in season, we were in pursuit! Except doves, Daddy would not shoot a dove and always chastised us for wanting to shoot doves. He said the dove was special ever since the days of Noah’s ark and they should not be killed. Us boys respected that until we got old enough to hunt alone and then we figured if everyone else was going to shoot them, a few more from us wouldn’t hurt. Daddy later found out and all he said was “don’t bring any home”. So we always gave ours away or grilled them at a friends house.
All other games animals however, did not enjoy the “untouchable status” of the dove and daddy was truly an outdoorsman of some renoun in our area of west Alabama. He killed on the biggest and perhaps very first deer killed in Tuscaloosa county when they reintroduced deer to the area in the 1930s. He and his hunting buddy, Bill Wedgeworth, were hunting rabbits early in the fall that year when a nice 10 point buck jumped up out of a brush pile where the beagles were sniffing. Both Daddy and Bill were expecting a rabbit when the big buck exploded from the cover! Daddy said they were both momentarily stunned since there were no deer in that part of Alabama at that time, having all been killed out by market hunters and depression desperate families. All they ever found to hunt back then was squirrels and rabbits, with rabbits being the preferred meat so it was their main prey at that time.
Well, when the buck jumped up he ran to the crest of the hill, about 50 yards away and then stopped and looked back. Big Mistake! Daddy sent a 22 long rifle into the bucks right eye and he dropped in his tracks! For some reason, back then everyone would cut the deer’s throat so it could “bleed out” and they told us that would make the meat taste better. So daddy got out his pocket knife when he reached the old buck and laid down his 22 rifle. He straddled the deer, reached down and picked the deer’s head up and about that time the old buck proved he was far from dead!
Daddy intinctively grabbed hold of the buck’s antlers and it took off down the hill side stumbling and falling into trees and bleating at the top of his lungs! Daddy was yelling at Bill to shoot him! and Bill was yelling back “I can’t! I might hit you!” Daddy said he still had the small pocket knife in his left hand and he proceeded to stick it in the buck’s neck several times until the old deer collapsed about 75 yards from where the wild ride began! I would have loved to have been there! But that was 25 years before my birth. I did hear the story over and over on many camping trips my dad carried me on. Along with a “ton” of other strories of his hunting and fishing adventures in his youth.
Daddy loved to camp, hike, hunt and fish. He loved to just go down on the farm and work on cleaning the woodlines around the pastures, fixing fences, making swings and benches at random places on our farm for us to enjoy the solitude you can only find in nature.
I miss my dad, I miss camping, and I miss the solitude he taught me to savor. This morning in Sunday School, everyone was talking about their dads, I sat in the corner and enjoyed the memories of mine!
Take your children outdoors and teach them to enjoy the peace and grandeur of the wonders in nature. None of us, I believe can show our children a better glimpse of real beauty and a little bit of heaven. Hope it is a great day up there dad!