I've been hunting for as long as I can remember. The first hunt I ever went on with my dad, he had to change my diapers. My first real hunting memory is sitting on a tree stand and snuggling under my dad's coat. To this day, I can still smell the musky scent of that old coat.
My brother and I were raised on hunting, fishing, and trapping. Our lives were truly like the Hank Jr. song, "A Country Boy will Survive", we can "skin a buck and run a trot line". We have had many memorable hunts. I still remember our first deer, riding out a flood, eating Twinkies and sardines, and even being used as dogs when the real ones didn't want to run anymore.
My favorite hunt of all, unfortunately, turned out to be the last for my dad, Lil' brother, and me. It was the last hunting day of the season, and by the next season I was in Omaha Nebraska, Lil' brother was in Florida, and Dad was back home in Louisiana. We always made plans to come home and go hunting, but something always seemed to get in the way. Five years later my dad passed away.
As our family gathered for his funeral, the talk, as it always seemed to, turned to hunting. We all sat around telling lies and big stories. Each story was bigger than the last and all of them larger than they truly were. Lil' brother and I started thinking about the last time we had went hunting together. It had been 6 years earlier.
It was cold, and rainy. Dad had brought his favorite snack, Sardines and Twinkies. You have not lived, until you have tried this tasty treat. I kid; I don't know a single soul, except for my dad that could even stomach this combination. But it was his favorite, when he was hunting. They were like a good luck charm. As we stopped the truck at the trailhead the rain started to come down harder. It was still a couple of hours before daylight, so we stayed in the warmth and relative dryness of Dad's truck. Dad had put a moon roof in his old truck with a jig saw and some plexi-glass, so keeping dry could be a real sport some times.
To pass the time we talked about all our passed hunting trips. We recounted the time I shot the truck, a real life lesson in gun safety. The time my brother got lost in the woods and had to be rescued by game wardens in a helicopter. The time my dad shot a goat and tried to convince my brother and I, it was a spike. We told story after story. We finally noticed that it was raining harder, the roof was leaking more, and the Twinkies were getting wet. You can't let good Twinkies and Sardines go to waste. We washed them all down with what was left of the Stop n' Go Coffee. We spent the rest of the day telling tall tales and laughing. We never loaded a gun, nor got on a stand, but it was the best hunt I ever had.
It's been seven years since my dad died. Lil' Brother and I have not missed a year hunting together, since. We made a pact and we are sticking to it. We bring our sons along, now. We are teaching them what we were taught. Dad use to tell us the greatest gift you can give your child is your time. He forgot to tell us, as a father, the greatest gift you can give yourself is time with your kids. I miss him so much, especially during hunting season. But I know I will see him again. If Heaven is perfect, and I know it is, there will be a Stop n' Go with bad weak coffee, sardines and Twinkies, and it will always rain the last day of hunting season.
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Owner of HuntStats.com and The OuachitaGroup, Terry Higginbotham, is an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman. He runs a research project studying the Whitetail Deer and the American Wild Turkey. Information from this study is available online at HuntStats.com or by email at: email@example.com