Sometime during the mid 1980’s my brother got interested in hunting. The interest that he showed was something that excited my grandfather. Almost immediately, my grandfather had a fresh slate to download his knowledge and excitement on.
While this was all going on my grandmother needed someone to talk to. She wasn’t impressed. Being young I still managed to realize that she needed someone to listen to her. Grampa had an incident back in the 70’s. He got shot by a guy at hunting camp. It wasn’t an accident. The guy was throwing trash on his land. Gramp approached him and it turned ugly. Gramp died a few times on the emergency table. Gram was stuck with being traumatized with the incident and the feeling of being lucky to not have not lost Gramp. She had to take care of my mom and uncle while managing and operating the family business. Gram didn’t get dramatic with her displeasure with the details. She basically mumbled and cussed about how she hated guns. Hunting was one of my gramps guilty pleasures. She never told him he couldn’t ever do it again but had to vent about it from time to time. I now respect how she didn’t demand him to give up his passion. I also respect how she spoke her mind about it. I never saw or heard about them argue about it. They made sure to give each other space and I got the feeling that they were grateful to have each other.
Personally I never got into hunting. It was part of my culture growing up. I remember seeing teammates showing up with blood stained cloths during hockey/hunting season. It was pretty common. If you didn’t hunt you were a minority or a yuppie. It’s fun to look back on memories like that. Being eight years old and thinking nothing of a teammate who just shot a deer and who comes into a locker room decked out in flannel accompanied by blood stains, gloating over killing a deer in great detail while barely being strong enough to tighten my skate laces is an interesting thought process. Most of the information that is pushed in todays world is politically correct. This culture still exists in the NEK.
To see an outsider move to the area and witness something like that first hand is a great social anomaly.”They come here with a fancy Cadillac and leave with in Pontiac”. This quote was given to me while a flatlander was judging my friends father dressed in flannel at a gas station. I have to say, the guy filled the description.
Hunting stories. Redundant is an understatement. Open-minded! Not so much. Being a young kid when all this was going on wasn’t easy. You want to be one of the guys. When you love to cook. You end up cooking at hunting camp. Having your sexuality could very well get questioned by some tough guy. “Someday you’ll make someone a good wife” . This was common. Culinary Arts isn’t respected by a lot of people. Slapping tough guys around became a regular thing.
When I reflect back, my uncle David was always interesting when he was in the mix. He was with gramp when he was shot. He was big into hunting prior to that happening to him. That incident ruined it for him. He once told me that bow season isn’t right. He claimed that the deer running around for extended periods of time with the bow inside of them is cruel. It was his way of me not feeling bad about not doing what my brother was doing. That was about the most liberal thing that I ever heard come out of his mouth.
My brother recently told me a story about David taking him into the woods, when he was eight years old. He was showing him how to track deer. David said Andy! See this? Andy said yes. David said, this is deer shit. This is how you tell if the deer is close. It looks pretty fresh. That’s when David turned his back and reached down. He reached into his pocket carefully and pulled out some raisins. That’s when David reached towards the deer shit and acted like he grabbed some shit. He then turned to Andy and said. “How you really tell if it’s fresh is if you eat it”. That’s when he threw a few raisins in his mouth. While eating the raisins he said Andy! Are you going to eat one? That’s the only way you will find out if it’s fresh.. Andy said he had a blank look on his face. He went to go reach for the deer shit and that’s when David hit has hand and said. No! What are you doing? While cackling. Eat some of these raisins. They are much better. At this time I like to think I was watching a red sox game with Gramp.
When my brother was eighteen he shot his first and only deer. He did it for Gramp. I was happy for both of them. Mostly for Gramp. It meant a lot to him. A few years later Gramp passed away. It was good to see one of his final wishes come true. A few days later my Gram passed away as well. It was tough to see how sad she was in those last few days. A few years after that my uncle passed away as well. It all happen so fast.
Currently my brother has a wife from Minnesota. She’s shot more deer than him. He’s proud of that. As an extra bonus she’s chainsaw certified. He has three girls. He has his girls involved with the outdoors. They can be found in the garden or pressing apple cider. He is always having them do something that pays homage to the legacy that he was fortunate to have been apart of. The five of them live in Gram and Gramps old house.
My sister has also married someone who is a lot like my Gramp. He has extensive knowledge in hunting. They built a house on the same land associated with my grandfathers garden. They have two boy’s. They raise pigs as well as maintain a garden on the side. Kim is the youngest child. She doesn’t have as many fond memories as the rest of us. She does cherish those memories that she does have.
Everyone has fond memories in my family. A few other people in my family have not been mentioned. That is not to say they weren’t white-tailed at some point in time.