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Cool, crisp air brushes across my face. I am awake. I jump into my warm clothes and get strapped into my safety harness. The alarming scent of Belgium waffles invites me to the front lobby of the hotel. My dad’s getting ready in the room; I’m heading to breakfast. It’s hunting season, I think to myself. We jump in the car and I get my socks and boots on.
My dad is planning out the day. “First we will go out for a couple of hours, if you want to come take a nap in the truck, that’s fine. If we see a deer you get the first shot but remember that you can’t shoot a buck,” my dad says with excitement.
We are here.
Tip toeing through the woods, the leaves crunch under our feet. Climbing into my tree stand, strapping the safety harness to the tree, I get nervous. Side by side with my dad.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. Burr its freezing.
Crunch, crunch, crunch. My heart races faster and faster. What could it be? Is it just another squirrel?
“Dad, Dad,” I whisper, pointing at the deer slowly trotting down the ravine.
My dad looks at me I look at him. I pull up my gun, put her in my sight, and pull the trigger. My dad gives me a high five. All the hard work paid off. Shooting at the range, taking a hunter safety course. Determined to make the kill.
We take our time to get out of the trees and walk down to the deer. My dad starts to think it is a buck. Oh no, I hope I not. It’s doe only season . . . what are we going to do?
We get there and sure enough, the buck has to nubby antlers. My heart skips a beat. An experience of a life time has gone wrong. Horrified, I look to my best friend, my dad. He says, in his deep, scary voice, “We can gut it and run or turn it in to the DNR.”
I said, “Let’s go to the DNR. It’s the right thing to do.”
We drive over to the station to meet a gentleman. He steps out of the car and I am standing there, frightened. I feel so small compared to him. Intimidated because I know I did something wrong. I feel awful and sinful. I want so badly to remember this experience in a positive way but right now I feel unlawful.
Because I did the right thing by turning the buck in, he let me keep it.
It pays to be honest, and respect the rules and laws. I learned this and another life lesson: look before you shoot. Think before you speak. And most importantly, be honest.