Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Woodstock, Maryland
Happy Father's Day to my Pop
This is a story I wrote for Dad sometime back. I thought you all might enjoy it.
This story didn’t start out the Monday after Thanksgiving. To really appreciate it and understand its importance to one local family, you must go back 22 years when Bill Males first took his son Michael deer hunting.
A twelve-year old boy stands motionless in the middle of a cut cornfield in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania on the opening day of antler-less deer season as his father, relatives, and family friends push through a woodlot.
His dreams of harvesting his first deer come true in a matter of minutes. A doe weighing in around 110 lbs with 5 bullet holes in it.
The moment will forever be engraved in my mind as I was that twelve-year old boy, and just like every deer story I have in my memory bank, my Dad was a part of it.
For the first several years of the story, the opening of gun season lead my Dad, brother and I up state to our cabin in Cameron County, PA. Every year, a spike or two would come home in the trunk of Dad’s car, and we were pleased. Pleased until the love of the sport that Dad instilled in me turned me to use the bow and arrow and get to hunt for 4 – 6 weeks before anyone else right out our back door.
I took up bow-hunting on my own with the help of some teaching from Truman Smith, and set out on the next chapter of this story.
I remember coming in after an evening hunt and telling Dad how many buck I had seen while stalking through the woods with my bow, only to see a grin and some skeptical looks of disbelief at times. A few years, and a few 8 points later I was able to talk him into joining me by buying him his first bow, as a token of appreciation for all the Saturdays he had not worked over-time just to take me hunting.
I told him…”Come do this with me Dad, bow-hunt. You will not believe how exciting it is and I want to share that with you”.
My always-faithful hunting partner followed my lead, and joined me in the makings of even more chapters to this story, but never had he been able to get anything larger than a six point with a 10 inch spread.
Don’t misunderstand me or be misinformed in thinking that a small buck is any easier than a large buck harvest with a bow… because at an ethical range, any deer is difficult to get. Doe, buck, whatever. A bow harvest is always an accomplishment.
A few more years go by and we end up at this year’s archery season. Bow-hunting has become so much more enjoyable as a direct result of the antler restrictions implemented by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, as we had seen many nice buck, much larger than any we had seen in past years and in greater numbers.
Nearing the end of the season, into the rutting period for the buck, Dad had selected a tree-stand position on one cold morning, in hopes to see what had made all of the scrapes and rubs in the area, and possibly get a shot. As the sun rose, a small buck had entered his shooting range just below him. A legal buck for harvest, but not big enough for Dad to shoot, as we had seen so many mature buck around. “The deer just didn’t act right” said Dad, when telling me the story, and he let the small buck pass under him. It was only moments later that he then had what he described to me as “ The biggest buck in York County” under him. He drew back his bow, with excitement coursing through him, only to have his peep sight on the bow-string not “come around” so he could see his site pin. Any bow-hunter will tell you this is not a fun thing. You cannot see the deer through the string to get an accurate shot. Dad drew back two more times only to still not be able to get his bow-site on the deer. (The colorful words that came over my two way radio as he was leaving the tree-stand area were a direct reflection of the anguish and disappointment he must have felt at that point.)
Once again, the big one got away from Dad, but it never broke his spirit, as an encounter like that one is what keeps you coming back to the woods.
Bow season ends, Dad and I are left “buck-less” as we had let so many small ones pass, and now the anticipation of gun season hits us. Although we enjoy bow-hunting so much more for its primal/spiritual connections, we still love getting together with all the guys for a good days gun hunt. The fellowship you find while hunting with your friends is probably the best part of the hunt.
Opening day of gun season put us all in our favorite spots, and Dad in the spot where he had seen that big buck in archery, in hopes to see him at least one more time.
Around 10:30 a.m., and excited voice comes over my radio. Its Dad, asking “ Where ya’ at buddy?” . I said “I’m back in the truck, headed your way.” . “I got one!” he exclaimed. “Hold on, I will be right there!” I replied. (Now I am excited.) The next few minutes was a hurried blur of getting to him in his spot, and frantic conversations over the radio to my friend Dennis and brother Brian that Dad had gotten a buck. I was making my way up through the woods and just as I got about 30 yards from Dad, he had just arrived at the buck.
“Oh my, would you look at the size of this buck!” Dad yelled to me. When I finally got to him, and could see the deer, all I could see was those thick massive beams, and the look on my Dad’s face. Priceless. We did the “deer dance of joy” and then brought the majestic animal back to the house for photos and humble reflection over the mornings events. If anyone was ever more deserving of such a buck, it is my Dad.
Deer hunting is not just about harvesting an animal or who gets the biggest buck. It is much more than that. “Its about family, its about tradition, its about ethics, its about respect. It is about preserving those fondest memories of childhood, of a celebrated season, when everything in your heart and mind was right. I ask you to pass on these traditions to your children's children, as it belongs to them anyway, and NEVER take for granted the PRIVILEGES that Mother Nature has to offer.
Thank you, Dad.
Michael S. Males
Sterner Duttera – Rhino 34
Muzzy Zero Effect Rest
DW 69# - DL 29" – Gold Tip 3575 – 302 fps
"Its about family, its about tradition, Its about ethics, its about respect.
It’s about preserving those fondest memories of childhood, of a celebrated season, when everything in your heart and mind was right.
Pass on these traditions to your children's children, as it belongs to them anyway, and NEVER take for granted the PRIVILEGES that Mother Nature has to offer."