Last year, I decided Hunting Season in Montana would be a yearly tradition for me. It all started a couple years ago when I was talking to my Dad about his yearly hunting trip. He hunted a lot when we lived in Montana (early 70s - 1990) and continued this tradition when he moved to Oregon. I figured it'd be a good opportunity for some father/son bonding and asked him if I could join him one year. We soon realized we had the perfect Hunting Oasis at The Cabin and should make it a yearly tradition.
My Dad lived in Oregon for 20 years, hunted every fall with his buddy Wayne, and retired earlier this year. Shortly after retiring, he moved to Montana to start building his "retirement cabin" (with running water and indoor plumbing). My Mom, kids and I joined him in July and made some good progress on finishing the foundation.
This weekend, shortly after working all night, missing a flight, and discovering the New Belgium Hub at DIA, I arrived in Missoula for this year's hunting season. Because I arrived at midnight, we decided to spend the night at a hotel near the airport. The next morning, we woke up and drove 2 hours to the Swan Valley. We arrived at The Cabin, started the heat stove and began unloading the truck. After being there 15 minutes and starting to settle in, my Dad started to talk about where the deer usually roamed. He pointing down by the garden and mumbled "They usually come out of there..." As he was talking, I looked out our kitchen window and say a huge buck. My heart leapt into my throat.
I shouted "GO!" and my Dad quickly responded with "NO! It's yours!" I said "It's been 20 years, YOU go!" and off he went to grab his rifle. Seconds later we were out on the porch and he was trying to find the beautiful 4-point Whitetail buck in his scope. The buck quickly disappeared behind the woodshed and outhouse and didn't appear again until he was almost on the front road.
When the target walked across the road, I whispered loudly "Go, GO - get him!!"
Shortly after a shot was fired that dropped him from our view.
My Dad scrambled off the porch, trying to reload at the same time and jamming his rifle. "Get the other gun!" he yelled (because a deer is rarely done after the first shot) and I ran into the house to grab some bullets and the other rifle. By the time I made it back out to the front yard, another shot was fired. My Dad turned to me and said, "He's gone."
I thought, "WTF?!" I thought for sure he'd got him on the first shot. Turns out, "He's gone" also means "He's dead". The picture below illustrates my Dad's impressive accomplishment.
After that, we both walked back to The Cabin to put our rifles away and got ready to haul it back.
As I was returning down the road to the deer, I spotted a good-size mountain lion on top of the hill. I didn't see its face, but saw enough of it to realize I should be carrying a rifle with me. A short sprint back to The Cabin and before I knew it, I was back by the deer, guarding it from any predators.
For the next couple hours, I learned how to gut a deer and enjoyed my Dad's overdue success. Congratulations Pappy - it seems you belong in Montana after all.
P.S. Today is my parents' 37th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! You make marriage look both fun and easy. I hope you have fun cutting up all that meat!