Opening Day Forever: Closing Day
At 87, Dad was slowing down. My mom, his wife of 53 years, had passed away in April. When I...
At 87, Dad was slowing down. My mom, his wife of 53 years, had passed away in April. When I arrived home Friday for our traditional whitetail opener, Dad apologized: “Tommy, I don’t think I’ll make it out in the dark tomorrow, but I’ll try to drive out later.”
From my stand in a southern Wisconsin creek bottom, I spotted his station wagon tooling along the township blacktop at eight the next morning. I jogged a half mile up the road to meet him. Twenty minutes later he had his big orange suit on and was in a lawn chair tucked into a fence line, not far from the vehicles.
“Go hunt,” he said with a smile. The November sun was warm.
A half hour later, I heard his 1940s vintage Model 12 crack once. On my trek back to that little roadside hay field, I think I asked for some divine intervention. But my heart sank when I saw Dad shuffling along, head down, looking confused. Clearly, he had missed.
“Got any blood?” I asked, knowing the answer would be a mix of regret and excuse.
“Oh, the deer’s over there,” Dad said as he gestured matter-of-factly. “I dropped my glove. Let’s find it.”
We did, and then I helped him over to a fat buck fawn shot right through the chest. That whitetail was at least 50 yards from his chair. We laughed and hugged.
Age and a broken heart took the rest of Dad’s deer hunting days from us, and now I hunt opening day alone but not alone. I visit the spot of his last deer every year, and marvel at how that closing day could have ever worked out so perfectly.
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