Gatorade, Beef Jerky, and Paydays - Memories with Dad

This Father's Day weekend I find myself reminiscing about times I've spent with my dad.

My dad has always tried to spend time with each of us kids, as a family and individually. Many times that has involved the activity of hunting. My dad is a brilliant outdoorsman, and it's very rare that he goes a hunting season without shooting something.

(Yes, people, I said hunting! I am a hunter, thanks to my wonderful dad! If any of you are animal rights activists - hey, this is my blog, and this is a unapologetic account of my hunting memories with my dad. We do it because we love the outdoors, and we love wildlife; we're conservationists, and hunting is a big part of that. You've been fore-warned; and no nasty comments please, you're not going to change my mind. Now that we have that out of the way . . .)

When I was twelve my dad took me and my brother and sister to a hunter's safety class to get our hutner's safety cards. The class was held in this little log building in a tiny town near our home. The same game warden who had taught my dad hunter's safety was still teaching the class. I remember sitting with my dad in the class as the game warden spoke, and as we watched videos, preparing for that all-important test that would determine whether I could apply for a tag that fall. The test came, and thakfully we all passed - the warden made my dad take it again too, just for fun, and my dad got 100% just like the first time he took it.

I have many good memories of hunting with my dad. We would wake up at some ungodly hour and I'd get all bundled up in my winter clothes and camo, and strap my fanny pack containing my tag, chapstick and other essentials around my waste. We'd drive to wherever we were going, and then most times we'd hop out of the truck and climb onto my dad's four-wheeler and drive even further in. At some point we'd have to leave the four-wheeler and start walking. My dad was always in great shape by the time my season rolled around, because his seasons were always first - so I'd get tired much more easily, and he'd let me hold on to his backpack straps and he helped pull me up the hill. He always made sure to stop several times and let me rest. My lungs certainly would get to burning at times.

When I think of the best moments of my hunting seasons, I always think of two seperate things that were likely to occur at some point every year. The first is when we'd be waiting for the sun to come up so I could shoot at something, and my dad would say a quick prayer that the Lord would give us a successful hunt that day. He'd grab my gloved hand and we'd bow our heads as my dad said the prayer. There was always something special about praying out there in the stillness while the sun snuck up over the hill, before the birds had even started chirping.

The second best moment would have to be when I actually killed something. It didn't always happen every year, but when it did, it was one of the most exciting things that have ever happened to me. We'd run through the snow or brush, my ears still ringing from the shot, scanning the ground for the elk or deer that I had aimed at. When we'd find it, my dad would give out a big shout, I would laugh and grin ear to ear, and he'd call out a "Thank you, Lord!". My adreneline would be pumping at this point, so I'd usually have to peel off a layer of coats or two, and then we'd get about the business of field dressing the animal and quartering it for the treck back to our vehicle. After the dirty work was done (which I always found rather fascinating; remember, I'm a biology nerd), we'd break out the Gatorade, beef jerky, and Paydays and eat our snack. I don't think I've tasted anything that could quite compare with Gatorade, beef jerky, and Paydays after a successful hunt.

There's nothing quite like getting outdoors and doing something with your dad. It was very bonding, even when I didn't end up getting anything some years. I think what made it special was that this was something that I could do with just my dad and me - it was enjoyable, and my dad was able to teach me so much about nature and wildlife and how to be a successful hunter. It's that legacy, the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Just thinking about it is making me anxious for this year's hunting season!

I am extremely blessed to have a dad that invested time in us kids like that. Not only did he take us hunting and on many other family outdoor activities (almost every weekend in the summer), but he was always there for me, to give me a hug when I was little and the other kids had made fun of me; or in more recent years, when a few days after Derek and I were engaged I started crying because things were changing, and I knew they would never be quite the same. To hear my dad say that he and my mom would always be my parents, and they'd always be there for me, meant more than I could say. The support from my parents and those words from my dad gave me that little bit of extra courage that I needed to face all those changes head-on.

Yes, the Lord certainly blessed me with a wonderful dad, and I don't think I could find a better one. Thank you, Daddy, for everything you've done for us, and Happy Father's Day! I love you very much.

Love, Callie
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AmyK said...

Neat story! My dad always took us fishing; I don't think I could handle hunting, haha!

Your dad sounds like a great guy.

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