It was a cold, dreary November afternoon as my Mom and I drove to meet my dad.  It was deer season and my dad had begrudgingly agreed to take a break from hunting to spend some time with family.  You see, deer season was HIS time, a two and a half week period each year that he absolutely lived for.  He usually left home the night before opening day, popped back in for a quick Thanksgiving dinner, and then was gone again.  We didn’t see him again until he took his one allotted buck or the season ended, whichever came first.  There weren’t many deer during those days so the hunting was hard and often frustrating.  Most seasons’ successes were not measured in actually harvesting a deer but more in how many were seen during the season.  Success percentage rates were in the single digits during those times, and the rural communities would be abuzz with news of the harvest of trophy bucks.  Consistently harvesting whitetails in those days was a sure way to assure you folk hero status around town.  For many, it was also a way to ensure that the family was well fed during the long cold Indiana winters.  Hearing the news that Dad had gotten a deer was cause for joyous celebration around my house.  I knew Dad would be the talk of the town and I knew that Mom would have a big worry lifted off of her shoulders once the freezer was full of deer meat.

I was too young to remember the occasion for this particular visit but it involved having dinner with the entire family and I was very excited to see everyone most of all my dad.  I was still young enough to not be aware of his imperfections and flaws, I only saw him as the greatest man in the world, one that I was going to grow up to be just like.  One of these days I hoped I would grow up to be a great outdoorsman just like he was.

As we pulled into the area where his truck was parked I noticed him loading something into the truck bed camper.  Later I found that after hunting deer unsuccessfully with his bow in the morning, he had switched over to his trusty twelve gauge shotgun and had limited out rabbit hunting.  Five beautiful rabbits were lying on the floor of the camper and boy was I impressed with my dad’s hunting ability.

Somehow I talked my way into being able to ride in the camper on the way to my grandparents’ house.  Just me, the rabbits, Dad’s archery equipment and the long road ahead of us.  The whole trip I dreamed of how I was the mighty hunter who had victoriously bagged the rabbits and was able to feed my village.  I would return home a hero as everyone in the village feasted and congratulated me on my great hunting skills.  They would acknowledge that I was a great hunter like my father and maybe even he would be impressed by my harvest.  The fantasies went on and on during the trip as I acted out the hunt in its various forms.  In my mind, it was the most successful hunting expedition ever; that is until the truck stopped and my dad opened the camper door.  There in plain sight were five horribly mutilated rabbits and the camper floor cut to pieces where the “great hunter” had repeatedly bagged his game by stabbing them with his dad’s arrows!  To this day I can’t truly understand what made me do that but apparently Dad found it at least a little humorous as my punishment was minimal.  I don’t think I impressed him though because every time he recounted the tale he could hardly finish because he was laughing so hard!