Ivy’s First Deer

I’ve been completely negligent.

My eldest daughter did something she’s never ever done before and I didn’t even mention it… for weeks.

Ivy shot her first deer! 

My brother Tyler was her mentor and the two of them had a great time together getting ready for the season. Tyler says it’s the most excited he has been for deer hunting in years. And then Ivy shot her first deer, using a crossbow, with her uncle by her side coaching her through it.

It’s a bit of a surreal mothering experience. As much as I’ve been around and about deer hunting and as much as I’ve shot guns and gone bird hunting and butchered deer, I’ve never been an actual deer hunter. But I can tell you it’s a proud moment to watch a kid go off and do something you’ve never done. Especially when they come back full of grins, a cooler of food for the freezer (Thanks again for that Tyler!) and announcing that they want a “real” bow for next year.

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Character Building

Deer hunting is a great time of year to have children experience the joy that comes with survival.

Taking a two-hour hike through the woods, falling in a freezing swamp, possibly getting lost but getting back on track.  Finally arriving at the house with boots full of swamp water, soaked and shivering to jump straight into the sauna. And then, once thawed, telling stories of deer jumping up out of the bushes closer than they’d ever seen, helping the hunters find a down deer, and the pride that came with knowing they helped the hunt.

Sure, it was cold, and hard and painful but they did it and that comes with it’s own special joyIvy and Clara

Don’t believe me?

Ask them about helping on the deer drive. They’ll start talking a mile a minute about the terrors of the hike – but they’ll be smiling.


Also we processed the six deer from yesterday’s drive today and  I didn’t include a single dead deer or meat picture in this post.

You’re welcome. 

The Last Field

John and I took a trip to North Dakota for a week of pheasant hunting! If you haven’t read The Brothers yet, you might want to read that first. 


It was the last field of the day on the last day of our hunting trip. The brothers were sore and tired but they weren’t going to show it now. While I’d been letting one rest at a time all week nobody needed to rest any more. They’d be riding in the truck the next two days. It was the last chance for everyone and none of us wanted to miss it.

After the hunt, too tired to keep their eyes open- still growling at each other.

After the hunt, too tired to keep their eyes open- still growling at each other.

The temperatures had finally cooled and the wind had picked up. Those boys put their noses into the wind and I followed, one hand on my gun the other on the dual controller for their collars, whistle in my mouth. Whistling when they both needed it, using the tone on their collars when just one needed direction. Working our way up the field at a quick pace because these brothers only know how to move at high speeds.

For dogs that hate each other out of the field, they hunt well together. Coursing back and forth, staying close to one another but not following each other around. Then they’d get on scent. And I’d better be watching for each of their tells to see who got on it first. After hunting with the boys all week, I was catching on to their subtleties. What they each looked like when they smelled a bird. What they looked like when they saw one running. What commands they each obeyed solidly and which ones they didn’t.

If it was Trip, I just had to make sure I could get my legs in gear to keep up with his sneak, knowing Sunday would hold point. If it was Sunday, I would need to get Trip closer to help trap the running bird before the egg beater started it’s engine. Or if Sunday locked on point I had to make sure I stopped Trip with a “Whoa” because he wouldn’t honor. There’s no time or thought to spare for wool gathering or cloud watching on a hunt like this.

We raced up the field. The wind in our faces, sun low in the sky and a field of pheasants in front of us.

Waves of birds, twenty or more at a time, would flush wild in front of us and then the dogs would pick up the few that stayed behind. Hen after hen they found, pointed or flushed in front of me all the way down the long field. Then, just before the field ended the rooster we’d been hoping for went up and I shot it. Filling my limit for the day.

Still wild with the joy of the wind and the hunt and flying high on the success of the dogs I turned the dogs to the the truck one last time.Buzz and John

On our way we met with John and his equally successful dogs. I regaled him with arm waving stories of our last hours while enthusiastically blowing my whistle too loudly in his ear when the dogs tried to head back up wind. When we reached the truck we all six collapsed to the ground. My brain was tired from working the dogs and my legs were exhausted from keeping up with them. I had a perma-smile from the hunt, the dogs, the birds, the open sky, the tired man across from me and the week.  I had three pheasants to my name and the sun was setting. We had things to pack, birds to clean and dinner to make but we didn’t move.  John and I and the four dogs lounged in the what stubble and enjoyed every last bit of that North Dakota sunset.Sunday and Trip


And now you should probably go read Just One More. While it’s true at the end of just about any hunt, it was written about those last bits of sunset.

Just One More

It’s over.

The sun is setting. The game bag is full.

But there -just there – he hears roosters cackling.

And so he sits, paw sore, weary, nose to the wind, ears cocked, ready.

Because perhaps, perhaps, we can go after just one more.Trip

It’s over.

I’ve shot my daily limit. The sky is darkening.

I watch him, nose to the wind and my tired feet twitch with anticipation.  I too want to follow the siren song of just one more.

It’s over.

But still we sit together, noses to the wind.

Wishing for just one more.

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