Hunting with Daddy
The morning was cold but the sun was shining bright. Steam rose from the frost as the sun began to warm that December day when I was 8. The frost hadn’t reached the forest floor and the leaf litter was damp, enabling us to move through the forest on quiet feet. Daddy carried his old .22 rifle and wore his hunting vest with the deep pockets for small game, while I carried the saw.
We were officially on a Christmas tree hunt, but daddy had wanted to first hunt some squirrel. In a stand of oak trees we heard a squirrel begin to fuss and a moment later an acorn hit me in the head. I stepped back as another acorn came down and daddy took the squirrel. White oak acorns are fairly big compared to live oak acorns and hit squarely in the head I was sure my skull was cracked even with the cushioning of my toboggan.
Daddy placed the squirrel in his hunting vest and we proceeded on through the tall trees. In those days logging wasn’t as commonplace. In the 1820’s most of the big timber had been cut as settlers moved in. The year was 1967 and these trees were 2nd growth, and were very large.
Predominately pine and hardwood growth in those days of my youth, the forests were healthy, with little underbrush. This was in the days before the 2nd growth was cut, and pine beetles moved in.
I thought it magical how the sun’s rays slanted through openings in the tree canopy. Another squirrel sounded off and I backed away before a barrage of acorns could come down. Again, daddy was able to place another squirrel in his hunting vest.
We hadn’t gone over 200 feet when an acorn thrown from the trees struck my nose accompanied by the angry chatter of a squirrel. Blood ran down my face from the cut and tears poured from my eyes. Daddy took that squirrel and laughed so hard he leaned against a tree. Handing me a handkerchief and telling me to apply pressure he felt of my nose to ensure it wasn’t broken.
After a while I noticed the sun was on our opposite side and asked daddy if we were lost. He replied no and asked why. I told him and he replied ‘Good girl’. By the time we came out of the forest and into a field full of cedar trees daddy had enough squirrel for supper. We cut down a Christmas tree and dragged it a short distance through a forest trail to his truck. My nose was no longer bleeding but throbbed and was stuffy. I commented that I never knew squirrel were armed which sent daddy laughing again.
That night we ate fried squirrel with gravy and scratch biscuits. To the child I was, it was an adventure and to this day I still recall the stinging nose and the scent of the cedar tree. Daddy is long gone now, but my memory of that day survives with the golden hue of a time long since passed, as I recall the time when I was 8 and went hunting with daddy.
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