One November afternoon, I picked my son up from school to take him deer hunting with me. He was only in third grade at the time, and I brought him a warm change of clothes to slip into before we went hunting.
It had been a dry fall, and this day marked the first snowfall we had. It was lightly snowing small powdery flakes that weren't sticking, as they melted as quickly as they fell to the ground. The woods were very quiet, and there was no wind; a good afternoon to spend time with my son, and perhaps harvest a deer to boot.
Our destination was only a couple of miles from his school, a dense patch of lodge pole pine thickets on a section of public land. Although this area receives moderate hunting pressure, it is generally from people just riding around in their vehicles road-hunting, "heater-hunting" as my grandfather used to call it.
We parked our Blazer, and still-hunted about half a mile to a small opening in the jack pines where three different deer trails converged. Here, we put down some foam pads to sit on, and selected a seat underneath a young bushy tree with branches that went nearly down to the ground. We were at the north end of the clearing which was roughly twenty yards wide and forty yards long, oval shaped and nearly level, sitting at the foot of small ridges running north to south on either side.
Deer tracks were abundant, and very fresh. The deer were on the move feeding, as it was the dark of the moon, and cloud cover had made the nights very black and dark. In the Idaho Panhandle, darkness comes early, and being three o'clock picking up my son, then another forty-five minuets getting clothes changed and into our clearing meant that we only had about half an hour to hunt. However, it would be the most productive time of the day, with the brewing storm and coming darkness pushing the deer into activity.
We settled into our seats, both of us sitting under the same tree. I told my son to be absolutely quiet, no matter what we saw, and not to move, except for his eyes. For a third grader, this can be hard, but he really wanted us to be successful, and he was obedient as he could humanly be. I was seated looking somewhat east and north, with my son to my right facing nearly due south, towards the long end of the clearing.
I was carrying my Ruger Super Blackhawk, and Marlin .444. Shooting in this jack pine is close and fast, so these are my usual tools. The rifle was lying in my lap, with the barrel to my left, and the revolver in a cross-draw holster.
Everything was dead quiet for about fifteen minutes, then the squirrels started chattering again, the juncos and peewees started calling and all the normal woods sounds resumed. A slight breeze kicked up out of the south-west at about five miles per hour and we waited with anticipation.
Our reward came after another five minutes. Out of the south end of the clearing three deer approached silently, two nice does and a yearling. Being the last week of season, and having an either sex hunt on whitetails, I decided to take the lead doe. My rifle was exactly 180 degrees pointed the wrong direction for their approach, and as they were headed straight towards us, I pulled my .44 revolver in anticipation of their approach.
My son was remarkably still and quiet, not making a sound or moving a muscle. The deer didn't have a clue of our presence, and we watched their approach. They were just feeding along, and taking their sweet time, slowly closing the thirty yards towards where we were waiting.
When the deer were about fifteen feet away, I began to draw the hammer back, ever so slowly...click.... the deer continued feeding. Click...the second click on my Ruger .44...and the deer continued feeding. Now at a distance of four feet away...CLICK! That did it! The big lead doe was only three and a half feet away looking full in my face, and the revolver was still at lap level!
As soon as I made a movement to raise the sixgun for a shot, she and her two companions were in high gear back where they had come from! My son said, "What happened Dad? I could have reached out and touched them! Why didn't you kill one?" Ouch! Once again the Lord had given me an unforgettable lesson. Point before you cock!
We laughed on the way back to the rig about our touchable deer, and our experience that afternoon. Although that has been several years ago, we still laugh about that time we shared in the woods that afternoon. That spur of the moment quickie after-school hunt turned into a fond lifetime memory for us both.
I learned two lessons that day. One is cocking and pointing sequences. The other is that it only takes a few minutes to make an awesome memory to share with our kids.