November 16, 2009

Faith Outdoors

For deer hunters, one of the greatest highs is to see a big buck and take a perfect, broadside shot. And, one of the greatest lows is failing to recover a deer that you shot at and hit.

My son, Andy, experienced both on the same day Saturday. Hunting from the same stand where he had hunted on opening day, he saw a nice buck walk out into a pasture at 7:20 a.m. He made a grunt with his voice to get the buck to stop, then took careful aim and squeezed the trigger.

The deer hopped, then ran across the field, jumped a fence and went into the woods. Andy was so excited and confident that he had hit the deer in the vitals that he climbed down from the stand after only 10 minutes and went looking for the deer.

That proved to be a critical mistake. The deer was hit in the stomach and not the vital organs, so it jumped up and ran off when Andy entered the woods. It kept going and Andy never found it. A stomach wound requires a long waiting period — up to several hours or even overnight — before recovery can be made.

Andy was just not patient enough. So, he got to experience the greatest heartache of deer hunting. It’s the second time this year and third time overall that he has not been able to recover a deer that he had hit.

As a father, I tried to figure out a way to help him deal with it. But, I was struggling with it myself. I really wanted to see him experience the exhilaration of downing a big buck. I was probably as disappointed as he was.

In the end, I just told him I felt bad for him and reminded him that he did the best he could. Sometimes, I said, things just don’t work out. Fortunately, we have another hunt ahead of us, this time in Montana.

We should see plenty of animals there, so, hopefully, Andy will get another chance. And, Joe and I should finally see something. I think this year is the first time I have failed to see a deer the entire season. I’m sure the warm weather and standing corn had a lot to do with that. Hopefully, we’ll have better results next year.

Who knows? Maybe enough good things will happen out west that we’ll forget all about our deer hunting troubles in Minnesota.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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