Hunting is More than Shooting

IMG0066Fishing or hunting trips seldom go exactly as scheduled nor do they always end up with a full freezer. As an example, my daughter and I were hunting goats just before her 18th birthday. It rained a steady downpour the entire second day of the hunt. A cold wind blew rain against us with such force our raingear finally surrendered and let the water in. We became so cold it hurt. Finally we could stand it no longer. At 5 in the afternoon we gave up and pitched our tent, deciding to just hole up and get dry and warm, thinking tomorrow has be a better day.

No sooner than the tent was up, the rain doubled its intensity and the wind picked up to gale force, driving the rain under the fly and right through the tent walls. We woke about midnight cold and wet. It made for a long night with very little sleep.

Several years ago I took two co-workers hunting. We flew out in my old Stinson on skis. After spending two days and a night we decided to move camp. Immediately after take off I ran out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas all at once. In the resulting crash we sustained injuries, but nothing life threatening or permanent. The airplane was wrecked and my pride was seriously hurt.

These two failed hunting trips really turned out to be successes. Like the night in the wet tent with my 18 year old daughter. At first light we climbed out of the sack, rung at least a gallon of icy water from each bag, and headed down the mountain to timber. Locating a perfect campsite, we made a lean-to, built a fire, got warm, and slept for the balance of the day. For the next 2 days we dried out gear. Although no more rain came in our camp the mountain where the goats were was constantly fogged in.

We didn’t fire a shot the entire week, but it was one of our most memorable hunting trips. Enduring the cold and wet let us discover some things about each other and ourselves. We learned lessons about our abilities, our capabilities, and our frailties. I gained a greater respect for my teenage daughter. Her self-confidence increased. Some of the generation gap was closed.

My hunting companions in the crashed Stinson proved to be real sportsmen and friends. They did not file lawsuits or make threats. They were sensitive to my lost airplane and injured pride. They did not place blame or cast judgment. The airplane was not salvageable, but through their kindness, my feelings were repaired.

Time healed the wounded pride and the airplane was replaced. My hunting partners made me a gift of a new rifle to replace the one broken in the crash. I use this gun each hunting season. It serves as a constant reminder, not of the wreck, but of two hunters who were also great sportsmen.

Evan Swensen

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