Since I was a kid, I was taught to appreciate and carry on the traditions that have been handed down through my Family. One big tradition was hunting, especially deer hunting. I started out carrying a .22 rifle during deer season, because my Dad told me if I was big enough to carry that Springfield 1922 all day, I was big enough to carry the Springfield 1903 in 30-06.
First thing I ever killed with that 1922, was a fox. To this day, my Dad can’t believe the shot I made on that poor mangy bastard, and I actually put it out of its misery. Nothing will replace the memory I have of that hunt. At the time, I was really into the Civil War, and my favorite pic from that era was the sniper in a tree.
Let me tell you, while I was sittin’ in that tree that cold November morning in 1981, I WAS that sniper. Makin’ the shot that I did, solidified something in me that ended up being followed through on as an adult. That was going into the military. Don’t ask me exactly what, or why, ’cause I’m not sure, but I knew it was gonna happen.
Besides the “Field Skills” I’ve taught them while hunting, over the years, I’ve used hunting to teach my kids other important “Life Skills”. How to be disciplined, how to have patience in the immediate situation, and how to have long term patience. These were the same lessons taught to me by my Dad, and to him by his Father.
I was fortunate enough to be able to have my Father along when I took the kids on several deer hunts, even if it was just a chance for them to sit quietly in the woods with him.
Unfortunately, it isn’t comfortable for him to walk to a stand and sit through a cold morning in the woods anymore, but I’m fortunate that we all had those times with him. I am also very fortunate that my “Soulmate” (Which I’ve cleverly disguised as my mild mannered Wife), likes to hunt too.
Yesterday morning was opening day for firearms deer season, and it was a big event for me. It wasn’t because of the deer I shot, although I still love the feeling of the accomplishment of the task I set out to do. No, yesterday, my oldest Son shot his first deer.
To the uninitiated, there is no understanding of the accomplishment, but to me, I know what he felt when all the things he was taught came together, and culminated in dropping a huge buck. He originally passed on it till he could make a clean kill (immediate patience). He hadn’t given up because he did not get a shot for years (Long term patience). He has practiced shooting till it has become a comfortable and confident skill (Discipline).
To top it all off, he was carrying the rifle that three generations before him have killed their first deer with. Carrying a rifle that his Great-Grandfather used in a war, then used as a deer rifle, was a pretty big deal to him, as it should be. It was a big deal to me, 36 years ago, and it was a big deal to my Dad, 63years ago.
The reason I bought the Ruger Scout Rifle I carry today, is because, like that 1903 Springfield, it is a solid Mauser action. It has all the attributes I think the 1903 would have today, if it was manufactured for military service.
My Son has taken a “Right of Passage” that many won’t understand. He has taken up a “Torch” that many don’t know exists. I am very thankful that 4 years ago, he had an issue with his asshat recruiter, it pissed him off so much, he didn’t enlist. He’d still have four years to go, and ……. well you know…..the military today is a, “Soup sandwich with stale bread”, and not what it was even four years ago.
In closing, I encourage you to pass these “Very American” traditions on to your kids, if you haven’t so far. If you don’t have kids, maybe try to mentor some local teenagers that wouldn’t normally have access to hunting or an experienced hunter. Too many traditions have been lost, due to neglect or short-sighted laziness. We should do all we can to not let this one fade away.
Today’s deer hunter is tomorrow’s Partisan Rifleman, and they’ll be fighting the fight we all know is coming. Many of the attributes of a successful deer hunter are needed skills for the partisan woodsman.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.