November has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up during a time when children spent a lot of time with their parents. There were limited distractions like school athletics or YMCA sports. Children weren’t glued to television, cellphones or video games. The best I can remember, families still cherished time together besides holidays.
People actually conversed and interacted face to face. On weekends, families played board games. When the temperatures began to drop, Mom would bring home a huge puzzle to work on. Sometimes she worked solo, and, other times, we all sat in on it. Family actually was a structured thing back then. We even ate supper together.
To me, as a young boy, the month of November meant only one thing — hunting season. I knew the never-ending walks with Pop quail hunting were getting me ready to start. My poor little 5-year-old legs struggled to match his stride. For every 5 miles he walked, I walked 10. Granted, I always slept good after a hunt. Usually I was asleep long before arriving home.
Pop knew that as I grew, my hunting interest was going to grow, as well. Before you knew it, he was taking me duck, squirrel and rabbit hunting. That remained a temporary fix. I watched American Sportsman, hosted by Curt Gowdy. I had designs on much bigger game.
I talked Pop into taking me deer hunting when I was 8 years old. Deer season landed right in his quail season, but he always sacrificed for his children.
My Pop grew up during the Great Depression. He knew a great deal about the outdoors. He knew every tree, plant and medicinal herb like golden seal and ginseng. He learned to live off of the land out of pure necessity. Nature was the grocery store then.
What Pop didn’t know about was deer hunting or turkey hunting. Anything that was a big meat source was almost hunted to extinction by the turn of the 20th century. Hunting deer and turkey was basically done in stories from the distant past. He had no skill set, so we were both novice hunters when it came to bigger game.
Pop was a marksman, and he was almost deaf from serving in two wars. We were a great team. I became his ears, and he used his eagle eye. We got to see a lot of big, fleeting white tails that year because we were clueless.
I learned deer hunting as I grew, and as I reached driving age, my Pop began to have diabetic health issues. By then I had several deer under my belt and had gone as far as to begin hunting deer with bow and arrow.
My first archery season I climbed a tree the size of a small apple tree. A very nice 10-point buck walked out. I thought this was pretty easy. So I drew my bow and shot the tree next to him. He looked on in disbelief and vanished. I am certain he died of natural causes years later.
I know people look at this as the holiday season launch. I look at this time as a scrapbook of memories with my Pop. The memories flood my mind and heart. What an awesome time we shared living, learning and loving. For this I am thankful. This is my Thanksgiving.