Meridian Star

December 28, 2012

A cherished birthday gift

By Otha Barham
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — How would you feel if you had only one child, a son let's say, who hadn't shown an interest in one of your passions, deer hunting let's say, for 35 years? And suddenly he tried the activity, deer hunting, and got enthusiastic. And after a handful of outings over a couple weeks, bagged a fine buck and came down with a full blown case of deer hunting  fever. How would you feel? Surprised? Elated?

    Well, that very thing has happened to me! The steps in the transformation happened like this:

    When John was about seven, I couldn't wait for him to go hunting with me. This was before the days of abundant shooting houses. So I had him climb a tree with me on our place in Texas and we sat on a limb. The biggest buck that had ever come around walked directly under our tree and I excitedly urged John to shoot him with his 20 gauge. My excitement was too much for him and he just couldn't shoot. He likely felt he had let me down, which of course he hadn't, because excitement is a great part of deer hunting. But the experience, and my exuberance and urgings, may have contributed to his future lack of interest.

    I belatedly realized that a child would know when they are ready to hunt and take game. John just didn't operate on my fast track schedule.

    Fast forward 35 years to deer season 2012-2013. John's fiancee decided to try deer hunting and quickly got hooked. He accompanied her to shoot houses overlooking green fields. Of course I was quick to give advice which they probably didn't need; keep quiet, be patient, stay until the last legal minute, etc. etc.

    The pair saw a couple of gray foxes on their first hunt and began to note the side benefits of deer hunting such as involvement with much of nature besides deer. Soon Melissa wanted to hunt alone; her independent nature taking hold. So John took a different stand on December 19. The last minutes of shooting light were slipping by when a really fine buck stepped out and John made the perfect shot, the deer dashing into nearby brush before crashing just seconds later.

    Before going after the buck he made his way to Melissa's stand and rushed her out of it with excitement filling the air. The whole drama of the recovery, picture taking, processing the venison and notifying me and a raft of friends unfolded in a delightful whirlwind of exhilaration.

    And quite serendipitously, this memorable event took place on my birthday — icing on my birthday cake if you will! And although this birthday gift is 35 years late, it is all the sweeter. And the extension of it is that I now have a couple more deer hunters on my hands!