My father was a professional reminiscer. He jumped at every opportunity to tell me about the good old days. With vivid clarity, he could recall the price of eggs, gas, and milk from 1945. Most of his stories revolved around the cotton mill, fishing, archery, and hunting. Many was the day that he told me about taping a match stick to the riser of his bow for a sight.
My archery journey has been all about experimenting with various methods of aiming and shooting. Yet, here I am at 50 years of age, and I’ve never taped a match to my riser. So, yesterday I went out back and did exactly that. The head of the match was much too large for precision aiming, so I broke off a toothpick, dipped the tip in white cresting paint, and taped it to my bow. Within minutes, I had a single sight pin that worked nicely from five to eighteen yards.
The forest was deadly still this morning – so quite you could have heard a squirrel snoring in its nest. As night gave way to dawn, I could see that a large gray blanket of fog covered the Red River, which was still swollen and muddy from last week’s storms. Soon, black turned to blue, then pink on the eastern horizon.
With a hint of heat, the fog began to fade. The tops of red oaks with a few golden-brown leaves still desperately clinging on emerged from the gray. Then, suddenly, it was as though new life was breathed into the fog. It started to swell and roll. Like smoke in the wind it began climbing the bluff where I sat watching over 250 feet above.
In a matter of seconds, I was completely engulfed the cloud, a unique position from which to watch the visibly silent fog creep through the trees. Once up, the sun quickly burned the fog off, and the forest came alive. Birds flew branch to branch sounding an alarm for breakfast. A family of chipmunks began squabbling over a nut on a nearby log.
I saw the doe out of the corner of my eye. She was moving from the river up the ridge. Twenty meters back there were two more does. The lead walked with purpose up the trail adjacent to my stand. I prepared to draw when her head disappeared behind a large maple. A tug of the string, limbs bent, and the bow was cocked. I put the tip of the toothpick on the spot and the arrow was gone.
The doe bound up the ridge leaving my arrow on the ground, soaking wet with blood. The big doe only ran thirty yards and lay down, where she expired.
We lost Daddy this July. Today, is his birthday and he would have loved nothing more than to have spent it hunting. He would have been 87. Happy Birthday, Dad.