Yes, time marches on and while it brings us some great things like grandchildren, it also brings us news such as I received a couple of days ago regarding the passing of a dear friend. When I found out last week that he was failing I asked his wife to tell him to remember some of the deer hunting stories we made together, and in honor of him I would like to do the same. These bring a smile to my face through the tears in my eyes. So, for you Rick.
My wife and I met Rick when he and his wife accepted the call of ministry at our church. Because of this he not only became our pastor, but immediately he, his wife, and mom became great friends. The National Church probably frowns on that now as they frown upon many things, but this is a friendship that is cherished. Now you want to talk about rural, our community is. Deer hunting is a great tradition in this area, and one that Rick really wanted to participate in. He obtained his firearm, we practiced, we talked about hunting and finally the first season was upon us. Now, Rick wasn’t from a rural area and had lots to learn which led to some great stories and adventures.
I should have known that first morning that this was going to lead to some comical adventures. I met Rick before daylight that first morning for coffee at the parsonage. We were going over our checklist of needed items and mom asked if he had plenty of change. He asked why and she said so he could get snacks from the vending machine if he got hungry and ran out of food. He said – but we are going to be in the woods! He apologized to me all day as we laughed about that one.
We were going hunting that first day at my dad’s family farm. We live in a mountainous region (at least for the east coast) and my plan was to hunt at the top of one of the hills so we would be away from any roads. That meant a walk up the hill first thing. It’s a hill I have walked up many times and didn’t think much of it, but I didn’t realize that Rick really hadn’t taken hikes like this before. It was a slower climb than normal, and Rick sounded like a locomotive coming up behind me and I kept joking with him about scaring all the deer away before first light. When we got to the top, he thanked me for taking him on the Bataan Death March first thing. We called that climb that ever since.
Rick loved to hunt and stayed close at all times because he really did not have the navigations skills needed to hunt by himself. He listened intently to my directions, stayed put when I placed him somewhere, and was always smiling. After the deer bedded down for the morning, we usually would split up and I would walk an area trying to push deer to him and as he got more comfortable in the woods, he would volunteer to do some of the walking. I would let him in little plots where he could easily find his way if he got lost, but more times than not I would have to go looking for him. One day he got it right and did the walk and came out right where he was supposed to. He was so proud, and yes, so was I. Later that day he came up to me with that shuffling walk and his head down and I knew he had something to say. He “confessed” that the only way he came out right on that walk was that he was able to follow the small pieces of fabric he had caught his vest on during previous walks in order to do it. He was so sorry. After we both had a great laugh over it, I told him whatever works. He was able to do that walk every time since and was so proud!
One day I did one of the walks, placed him in a great location and took off. As I neared him, I could see several deer in front of me and watched them pass very close to him. No shots even though I was pretty sure a buck was in the bunch. I walked very close to him and finally whistled at him. He jumped up and walked up to me and I asked him how many deer went through – I knew there were several and some passed within a few yards of him. He said he never saw a single deer. He had fallen asleep! Time to get out the coffee thermos!
The best story though is when we joined a few more friends for a deer drive. I was a walker and another friend placed Rick at a very good location. I jumped two large bucks and they were running right towards him. I was waiting for a shot that never came. When we got to Rick, I asked him if he saw those bucks and he said yes but I missed them?????? When we started to clean up his brass, we noticed that they were complete bullets. In the excitement Rick had cycled four bullets through his gun but he forgot to pull the trigger!!!!
Rick never got discouraged. He loved being out in nature and loved the excitement of the hunt. One day we were both together near the end of the day and just decided to sit and watch for a while. We had hunted hard that day and the Bataan Death March was part of that day as well. I could tell he was very tired. Soon after we sat down, I could see a deer slowly making its way towards us and sure enough there were small horns on his head. I whispered to Rick that it was a buck and shortly thereafter a shot rang out. Rick had got his buck!!! He was so excited and yes, so was I. Rick got his buck!!!!
Rick is with the Lord now singing his praises in a body that is not sick and I can see that smile on his face and hear his laugh. Someday we will see each other again and will be able to laugh at these stories again. Look for a good spot in heaven for us to make some more adventures! Love you Rick!
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Please feel free to like, comment, or share. You are appreciated!
-Steve, aka Countrypap