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Speaking of hunting video games, I’ve been real hunting several times with my late step-dad. He was an avid deer hunter, and when we boys were younger, he often took one of us with him. Although I went with him on occasion, I never came to enjoy hunting — but not for the reason you might first think.

To go deer hunting required that we wake up at 4:00 a.m., in the fall and winter, get dressed, pack up, and drive out to the wilderness of the next county over. I never was a morning person; I never liked getting up two hours before light. I’ve never been a fan of cold weather; I never liked standing patiently in the 25-30 degree climate.

My step-dad would be talking with his fellow hunters over the CB radio, handling his dogs at the back of the truck, standing on the back of the truck, on top of the dog box, scanning the fields for a target. I would usually spend my time sitting in the cab of the pick-up truck half asleep, shivering in the cold. Now, once noon came, and the sun was high and the air was above freezing, I was ready to hunt. Unfortunately, the hunting day was winding down about that time.

Although I went hunting probably over a dozen times in my youth, I never killed a deer. I think I’m the only boy in the family (1 full brother, 3 step brothers) who never did. I’ve shot squirrels, birds, and many paper targets, but I never bagged a deer. I never even fired at a deer. That’s kind of pathetic for a boy growing up in a deer-hunting family.

I’ve seen my step-dad shoot deer. I’ve helped drag carcasses back to the truck, I’ve watched as he cut a deer up, and I’ve carried the fresh meat. I always wanted to shoot a deer (or at least shoot at one). I did have two distinct chances, though, but I failed.

Once, I was hidden in some tall grass and weeds in the middle of an otherwise bare farm field. I had gotten tired of standing in the cold, so I was sitting on the ground. I couldn’t see out of the grass, but I didn’t care. I was cold, tired, and just damned unhappy. I could hear the dogs barking and howling in the woods to the south of the field I was in, but I never see a deer anyway, so I didn’t really pay attention.

Suddenly I heard what sounded like a horse galloping, and then a second later, a deer burst through the grass and weeds. It passed in a zip just three feet beside me — I could have reached out and touched it. It happened so fast, and seemingly out of the blue, that I just jumped and gave a shout. I was so surprised and startled that I didn’t realize what had happened for another couple seconds. By the time my mind had registered the event, I saw the deer bound into the woods on the other side of the field. My shotgun was still lying on the ground.

The other time, I was sulking in the pick-up truck, hating the cold and early morning. We were parked in an empty field on one side of a big, long dirt windbreak (about 10′ high). My step-dad was standing a few yards behind the truck listening to the dogs in the distance.

Someone several hundred yards away, on the other side of the big mound fired a shot. The pick-up truck rocked as my step-dad leaped up onto the back. I was fully alert by then, andĀ getting out of the cab.

Three deer ran around the end of the dirt mound, maybe 30 yards in front of the truck. There I was, standing ready with my shotgun in my hands. I threw the gun to my shoulder, leveled the barrel on the lead deer — I could see it’s antlers — and aimed for a moment, then squeezed the trigger. Nothing. I squeezed again. Nothing.

Just as the deer jumped into some tall brush, I heard the boom from my step-dad’s rifle behind and above me. He fired three times but I couldn’t see the targets from my level, standing on the ground.

What the hell had happened? I checked my gun and realized I had forgotten to turn off the safety. Dammit. You have got to be kidding me, I thought.

My step-dad had killed one of the deer, and I helped him bring it back out of the brush. I was pumped up on adrenaline for a long time, even forgetting about the cold for a while. But once I had come down from the excitement, I was so very disappointed.

That was the last time I went deer hunting.


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