Here's an another attempt by me to be an outdoor writer. Feel free to critique.(the previous readers said it was "anti-climatic"
My Favorite two words
I grew up in a family of bow hunters. Every year a group of family members and friends went on a 9-day hunting trip to Shawnee National forest. To me going on that first deer-hunting trip was a right-of-passage. It didn't only mean that I got to bow-hunt, it also meant I was one of the men. I got to drink with the men. I got to curse with the men. I was respected like a man.
So, when I was eleven years old my Grandpa John got me an American Bow and a dozen arrows for Christmas. I was a little terd. I weighed in at about 90 pounds, and I was short. He told me that when I could pull back 40 pounds I would be legal to hunt. I've never done so many repetitive motions in my life, and that includes my teenage years. It seemed like pulling back 40lbs was out-of-reach. But, I knew what I had to do, and I had about 9 months to accomplish the task before my family hunting trip.
A week before the trip, my Grandfather called me. He asked if I could pull back 40lbs. I told him that I could. (I didn't tell him the amount of facial contortions it took to get it back, or that I couldn't hold it for more than 20 seconds.) He asked me if I could hit consistently at 20 yards. I said, "Yes". (I didn't tell him that after shooting 4 or 5 arrows I had to let my arm rest.) It didn't matter what I 'didn't tell him', he did not question my word, and he wanted me to go.
So, the morning came when it was time to leave. We packed up, and started on our journey south. Soon enough, we were there. We got camp set up, and my Grandpa took me out to set up my stand. My stand was on a nice little pond next to a perfectly manicured food plot. I was hunting in a tree that my great-uncle had already put climbing spikes in before I was even born. The stand was about a mile and a half from our camp on our way to the main road. I had never sat in a tree stand before, and climbing up there was a task that should have required at least another 6 inches on each of my legs. But, I was young--I'd stretch, grab, and pull myself up to the next set of spikes until I got to my perch. It was easy--I was excited.
After setting up my stand, we headed back to camp and my Grandfather said he had to go into town to fill the water buckets. He nonchalantly said, "Benjamin, Grab your bow and I'll drop you off at your stand for the evening hunt."
I shirked, "I don't know Grandpa, I'll just leave my bow behind, until I get used to sitting in a tree."
He looked at me with a strong look of suspicion. He calmly said, "Take your bow, nobody will be with you--Nobody will make you shoot."
There really wasn't much for me to think about then. When he said, "Take your bow" he meant it. It was time to get suited up.
I put on my $15 dollar camo jacket, grabbed my bow case and finger tabs, and was off for my first sit. He set me up in my stand and told me to "stay put". He'd be back in about an hour and a half to pick me up.
I watched as he casually walked away, and I sat...and I sat.……..and I sat….and I must of sat for at least 30 minutes when I suddenly noticed that a buck had made it to within 35 yards of my stand.
"Okay" I said to myself. “This is it.” Thoughts were racing through my head faster than my heart was beating. “Is it possible for a deer to hear you breathing? Surely he can hear me gasping for air. Okay, nock an arrow. OHHH NOOO!!!” I dropped that DAMN ARROW.
“He’s looking right at me, be calm now. Breathe. Breathe. Okay, he’s eating again. Nock another arrow. Okay, DRRRRRRRRRAAAWWW. Hold….HOLD…..CAN’T HOLD ANY LONGER…Must let down draw….easy….easy….Urrrrggg…DAMN! I just dropped my second arrow! He’s looking right at me at about 25 yards. Okay, he’s eating again.”
Now by this time I’m shaking like a puppy passing peach seeds. I’ve had to sit down twice because my knees were shaking so badly. But I stood back up and got in position. “Get yourself together….be still….breathe….okay he’s behind a tree. Nock another arrow, Quickly!….Quietly!…Here he comes. He’s close. DRAAAAAWWWW-AIM-HOLD-RELEASE!!!”
As soon as I released, he took off running through the woods. I climbed down out of my stand and began to run back to camp. I must’ve ran that mile and a half in about 10 minutes. I got up to the tent, and the other guys were all still doing camp chores. They gave me a look that said, “What in the Hell are you doing back already?”. Before they could speak, I shouted, “I got one!!! I got one!!! I got a deer!!!”
My Uncle Bill looked at me through his wise old eyes and said, “Now Benjamin, You do realize that today is Halloween and not April Fools, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I exclaimed, “I really think that I got a deer.”
“Well,” he said “Let’s wait until your Grandpa gets back from town, and we’ll decide what we’re going to do then.”
The questions kept coming until Grandpa got back. And when he did arrive, he was not happy. “I told you to stay put!” he scorned.
I quickly retorted, “But Grandpa, I got one!”
“You did?” he replied, “Is there any blood? Did you find your arrow? Where did you hit him?”
Well my answers to these questions were a resounding, “I don’t know.” And, I didn’t know for sure, which didn’t help my situation any.
It was then decided that we would eat dinner before we went out to check. Talk about self-doubt. I have never been so nervous in my life. I had to ask myself if I really had hit him, and the guys new it. I heard a couple of my cousins talking in secrecy, and they thought I was full of crap. When I repeated my story, I could only see more looks of doubt in their eyes--They only shook their heads more.
We finished eating and a group of five of us made it out to my stand.
“Okay” they asked “Where was he when you shot him?”
I showed them where, and guess what. NO BLOOD.
My Uncle then said, “Ben, why don’t you climb up in your tree stand and tell us where he was.”
I did. No blood. No arrow.
Everyone was canvassing the area that I shot, there was nothing. All I could hear was the silence of all of the men that thought I had either shot & missed, or had made up a story because I got tired of sitting. I felt tiny. I felt guilty.
My Grandpa then said, “Ben, if you shot an arrow it’s got to be here somewhere are you sure…”
Right then he was interrupted, “HOLY $*HIT!!!” my cousin yelled from a distance. “I GOT BLOOD RIGHT HERE!!!”
My Grandfather walked over to my cousin and looked down, and to this day I can still hear his words echoing in my head. Those words that meant I was not a kid anymore. Those words that meant I was not Full-of-S*HIT. Those words that meant that everyone who had doubted me now had to look me in the eyes and congratulate me. Those words that meant I'd done good. Looking down at the blood in the leaves, he said those two words that every bow-hunter lives to hear. “Heart-Shot”