Monday, March 29, 2010


I'm going to get away from the chukar hunting and pass on my last hunting experience with my dad. It's kind of a reminder to also remember the elderly the same as you do your children. My dad lived for six years after this hunt but it was his last hunt.
Dad never did hunt a lot. He shot a few deer and pheasants but he spent most of his time working. He had eight children and a wife to provide for. My brother and I had taken up hunting at a young age and became quite avid. It came as a surprise when dad asked me to take him hunting at the age of 81. He hadn't picked up a firearm for over 25 years. I called my brother and we formulated a plan for the following Saturday. He would pick up dad and meet me at my house one hour before daylight. From here we would drive 15 minutes and start up the hill.
All went well until I parked my truck and suggested we start walking up the hill. Dad wanted nothing to do with that. It was still dark and he didn't want to be tripping over any rocks. I knew that dad would be moving slower on the hills than I like and losing a half hour or so wasn't going to help our odds, but it was his hunt. When it was light enough we unloaded out of the truck. Dad took the gun case out of the truck and I noticed it was Tom's rifle. He said Tom suggested he use it instead of his .270. Made sense to me since dad's gun probably wasn't sighted in.
So up the hill we went. Dad and I up the ridge and Tom off to push the brush. It was a plan that I schemed up to keep from running all over the hill. About one hour later we had traveled about a mile up the ridge. There was a nice four point coming our way. When I whispered to dad that there was a buck coming he answered where in the same voice he used to use to get my attention over the loud t.v. He finally saw the buck racing over the next ridge. Tom called on the radio and asked why dad didn't shoot and I jokingly said, "it wasn't big enough". A half hour later and a little further up the hill a three point showed up. He had no idea we were in the area. That was until I told dad to put the cross hairs on his chest and squeeze. Dad's remark of how the hell do you see through these things sent that buck running.
It was then that I realized the chances of dad bagging a buck were pretty slim. He had never looked through a rifle scope. His old .270 had open sights. Once again Tom radioed me as to what was the problem. I explained we were going to take a half an hour to learn how to center the scope and for him to sit tight. After we got the scope figured out we were on our way again. This time a fork horn and five does came bounding towards us. They stopped at about 75 yards and looked back towards where Tom was. Dad tried to pull up on the buck but was shaking too bad to make a shot. I immediately took my back pack off and put it on the ground for a shooting rest. I put the rifle on the pack and everything looked great to me. The next problem arose when I told dad to lay on the ground and shoot the buck in the chest. 81 year olds don't get down on the ground that easily. Especially when there are rocks laying all over the place. In fact dad couldn't get down there at all. I realize that, as I'm getting older and stiffer, I was asking a little much of him. After he tried, he thought he would shoot right in the middle of the herd and surely he would get one. I explained to him that this wasn't like the good old days where does were legal and he could only shoot the buck. He explained to me that was a stupid rule and he's never shot a buck in his life. Once again he forgot to talk softly and off the deer went. Another call from Tom who had been running his butt off. I explained quietly so that dad couldn't hear that this just wasn't going to happen. I told him that the only way dad would ever get a shot was if we found something about three feet tall for dad to lean on to make the shot. He also would need five minutes to get his sights on the deer. About half way down to the truck the same five does and buck were walking our direction. There was a big boulder about three feet off the ground between us and the deer. Dad was getting tired, so I mentioned we move over to the rock and take a break. I didn't mention anything about the deer. As we rested the buck move off by itself. I put my pack on the rock and rested the rifle on it pointed towards the does. I than told dad to practice with the scope seeing the does. I also made sure I told him not to shoot. After he was comfortable I said, "now look about fifty yards to the left and there is that buck". Dad calmly swung the rifle around and centered the cross hairs on the shoulder of the buck. Whoops one more problem as I waited for the report of the rifle. Dad says, "how in the hell do you take the safety off?" I told him not to move and reached over his shoulder to take the safety off. Five seconds later the shot of his life was fired and the buck dropped in his tracks.
I took the rifle with excitement and tried to give him a high five. Dad was never much into athletics so he was looking at me like what in the hell is all this hand swinging. I quickly realized the error of my ways and reached out and shook his hand like a man. He asked if we could sit and take off his boots before we go down and retrieve his deer. He thought he had picked up some rocks in his boots. One more problem. I think he had these boots all his life and his feet probably changed since the last time he wore them 25 years ago. What had happened was that his socks had slid down and balled up in the toes of his boots. That had to be miserable. We finally moved down to the buck where Tom was anxiously waiting. After the hand shakes and pictures we packed the deer the rest of the way to the truck.
As you can see by the pictures it is not a monster, but it was a real trophy to dad, Tom and myself. Thanks dad for asking me to take you hunting again.


Karl said...

Great story. I'm going hunting with my dad in April for turkey. I won't hunt, just be there and take pictures and video. It's great to take people out that you care about enough that seeing them get game and being part of their experience is far more important than doing any shooting yourself.

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Karl. I wish you the best on his turkey hunt and hope your dad's health keeps improving.

Steveb said...

Great story Larry! Hope I can get out on another hunt with my father, right now, it doesn't look to promising.....
I do cherish the memories that I have with him already though!

larry szurgot said...

Steve, I hope you do get another hunt with your dad, Keep those memories in your heart though. Every once in a while I close my eyes and relive that day with dad. It keeps him here with me.