Be Grateful for Deer Hunting Memories Made

April 6, 2020 | by Nick Pinizzotto

A photo from our memorable hunt.

It was early November and there was a noticeable increase in deer activity. Scrapes seemed more intentional and the number of small trees that became targets of aggression by hormone-crazed bucks was growing exponentially. Although I was lucky enough to kill my buck early that season, I still spent a lot of time in the woods as my mission was to help my dad hang his tag on one of the good bucks still roaming our area. Not being a young man anymore, I knew my dad wasn’t going to put in the hours on stand that I would so I had to figure out a way to motivate him to go on those days when I estimated the action would be hottest.

The weather forecast for the afternoon was for temperatures in the mid-40s slowly dropping to the upper 30s by sundown with a light but consistent wind out of the south-west. This followed multiple days of tumultuous weather that included steady rain and high wind, so I figured the deer were looking forward to stretching their legs a bit more. The stand I had in mind was perfect for the conditions and I had recently gotten photos of a mature buck passing through during shooting light. When my dad rolled in early in the afternoon, I was excited to tell him about our plans for the evening.

While the walk was a long one it was relatively flat and we could use the gas well road for most of it, which allowed for a quiet and efficient approach to the stand. Taking our time, we slowly made our way toward our destination noting the encouraging number of fresh tracks crossing the muddy road. It was just one of those evenings that felt right, as if all the ingredients were there to put together the hunt of a lifetime. I was already thinking about the big smiles and pictures we would be taking that evening. I snapped out of my daydream when we reached the base of the tree.

I hung two stands with mine on the opposite side of the tree and above my dad so that I could watch areas he couldn’t and easily whisper to him if necessary. Since I was on the top stand, I climbed first and began settling in while I waited for my dad. For some reason he seemed to be lingering at the base of the tree, but I didn’t think much of it as I was focused on my safety gear and getting set. I thought maybe he was waiting for me to get fully situated before climbing. Sure enough the moment I sat down he began climbing. When he got to his stand, he turned to me with a shy yet hopeful look on his face, similar to what you might expect from a toddler asking for a second helping of ice cream. He said, “We have a problem.”

Over about a two second pause the thoughts of all the potential “problems” he was about to tell me about were racing through my mind. To be honest, my first thought was he might have had a surprise bodily function that would put the end to a hunt right quick, but that wasn’t it. Without my asking what the problem might be while giving him a bewildered look he said, “I left my bolts in the truck.” “Well why did you climb the tree,” I asked in astonishment. “I wasn’t sure what to do and I didn’t want to yell up to you so I thought I’d just climb up and ask you to go get them,” he replied in a hopeful tone.

I did the math in my head and figured just getting him out and up a tree once was a bit of an accomplishment and if he had to walk back it was more likely that he would get to his truck and decide it was easier to just drive home. Annoyed as I was and as you probably guessed by now, I climbed back down and made the trek back to retrieve his bolts. When I returned, now tired and sweaty from having to make the journey twice, he thanked me for the favor and readied his crossbow for the hunt. After a few minutes he turned to me and said, “We’re making memories.”

I couldn’t help but laugh and even as I share this story more than 10 years later I can still vividly recall that evening. If the hunt would have went off without a hitch chances are I wouldn’t remember much about it unless we got a deer that evening, which we didn’t. I have to say my dad was right as that evening ranks among the most memorable of my hunting career so far, even it it’s on the blooper reel. In fact, the most memorable moments are often from the times when something didn’t go according to plan, and most of us have a long list of those.

I don’t recall if we saw any deer during that hunt, but it still provided a life-long memory. During this time when we’re cooped up a lot more than we want to be, thinking back to those memorable times while deer hunting can provide a little levity when it’s sorely needed. Now might be a great time to look back through old hunting photos or even pick up the phone to call a hunting buddy to talk about your adventures. I think you’ll find yourself lost in those moments and feeling better as a result. It might even get you excited about the coming season when hopefully the challenges posed by COVID-19 will be mostly behind us, and we can focus on our passion without burden. It’s times like these that make us grateful for the memories we’ve made, and long for the ones ahead of us.

Thanks for forgetting your bolts that evening dad. It made it a hunt to remember.