The Christmas Gift

Everyone knows that Christmas is for kids, but there are those times when kids provide their parents with the greatest Christmas gift of all without even knowing it... Some people are born to hunt. And if that primal urge is supported and endorsed by loving parents, a child can experience the wonder, awe, and magic of the outdoors that others may never know. Two such children are 12 year old Ryan and 9 year old Andrew Ruef of Lee, Massachusetts. They are blessed to have the kind of parents that every kid should. Their father, Gary, and mother, Amy, fully support the boys in their desires to experience everything that Mother Nature has to offer. Whether it's snowshoeing or ice fishing in the winter, shed hunting or turkey hunting in the spring, fishing throughout the summer, or pheasant hunting and deer hunting in the fall, this family is into it! They all belong to the Lee Sportsman Club and donate their time and energy to club activities such as pheasant raising and stocking. This summer Ryan and Andrew graduated from a hunter safety course sponsored by their club. The graduation ceremonies included participating in a youth pheasant hunt with fellow graduates.
Since then the boys have taken many trips and spent many long hours on deer hunts in neighboring Connecticut and also in their home state of Massachusetts. Most of these hunts are probably similar to hunts that many of us remember when we were younger: long hours on stand with nothing to show. However, the boys are always willing and excited to give it another try. On December 22, Ryan Ruef and his Dad met up with two other friends and planned a deer drive in the hills of Berkshire County, Ma. Conditions were perfect with a fresh snowfall coating the woods. Ryan and his Dad would post at the edge of a hemlock grove, while another hunter would take a stand a few hundred yards away. With muzzleloaders at the ready and fingers crossed for good luck, the three waited for a buck to be pushed by their positions.
As Ryan scanned the woods for movement he suddenly whispered to his Dad that he saw a deer coming their way. One deer soon turned into three and among them was a spikehorn buck that walked by at a range of 75 yards. The deer never presented a shot that Ryan was confident to take and he eventually walked off. Ryan should be commended for making what I'm sure was a tough decision! One of the other deer was videotaped by his dad and a later review of the video showed that it also was a buck that had already shed his antlers!
The drive ended with everyone involved in the hunt seeing deer, but as happens more often than not, the spike was the only antlered buck among them.
Another drive was organized for the afternoon. It required the standers to take a scenic hike along a frozen brook followed by a strenuous climb up a steep ridge that was covered with rocky outcroppings and ledges. Ryan never complained about the hike….I wish I could say the same about the adults!
The day ended with no deer taken but all of the hunters agreed that it was another enjoyable hunt full of memories never to be forgotten. Later that day Gary Ruef received an early Christmas gift from his son when Ryan exclaimed; "Thanks Dad, that was one of the best days of my life".
If you're a hunting dad or mom, you'll understand the special gift.
Merry Christmas to all!