I was just sitting here in my deer stand remembering the first time I took Amy hunting with me. She was only four years old, but already she loved being outdoors and being with Dad. I could hardly go squirrel or rabbit hunting and not have Amy with me. Amy would sit for hours and watch her Mom and I shoot our bows and anytime I would shoot the guns you could bet your best bird dog that she would be right there with me. Her first real hunting trip was at the age of six and she was instantly in love. She sat with her Mom her first evening hunt and sat as still and quiet as a church mouse.
Over the next few years Amy became very proficient with a bow and took her first deer at the age of twelve. Man that kid could shoot, double lunged it at twenty yards. I don’t believe a dad could be any prouder than I was. Amy loves spending time with her Mom and I and would rather go hunting at her spot than go shopping with her friends. Her spot is very special to her, she and her Mom hunt the big maple at Wills together every chance they get.
My thoughts move ahead to opening day of bow season 1995 and everyone is seeing deer. Amy and her mom have seen 31 deer at the big maple in the morning but have passed on several waiting for the right shot. Like so many hunts before they are hunting their special tree together. " Four eyes are better than two " Amy always says. At age fourteen Amy can outshoot every guy in camp including Dad and loves to prove it. That evening the shot was right and Amy took her second deer with another perfect double lunger. Just one week later only a few miles away Amy’s cousin Candise would follow in Amy’s footsteps and get her first deer her very first year of hunting.
Amy is very out going and happy go lucky and although Candise is shy and quiet the exact opposite of Amy, they are drawn together by their love for the outdoors. Candise, like Amy strives to be the best archer she can be. Candise shoots in tournaments and 3D shoots across the state and is a pleasure to watch. Candise loves to shoot her bow and hunt with her dad Eric. Wherever you see Eric, you can be sure that Candise is close by. Amy and Candise both love animals but also understand that they must be hunted to manage them or Mother Nature will do it herself. They both understand that respect for the animal you are hunting is the most important part of hunting. They both know that you do not take a shot unless you are confident you can make a quick clean kill. They both understand that you owe that to the animal you are hunting. They are both the type of hunter any father would be proud of.
Now I think ahead to opening day 1996 and I am at the big maple at Wills with Amy’s mom. I feel like I should be at my spot in the back of the property, but not today. As I look over at the plaque that Amy’s Grampa put up, I remember why I am here and not Amy. You see in April of 1996 we lost Amy at age 15 and Candise and Eric at ages 14 and 34 in separate tragedies just one day apart. I know that Amy is in a better place now, but I cannot imagine her wanting to be anywhere else but at her tree. However, I do know that her and Candise are in good spots and are seeing deer because Eric is with them. God must have needed the herd thinned out because he took three of the best in April of 96.
Amy’s mom still hunts the big maple at Wills and I am sure sometimes Amy is hunting there with her. I think about Amy all the time especially when hunting and I’m glad I had the time with her that I did. I only wish we had more time together but wouldn’t trade what we had for anything. I guess the whole point of this is that if you have a son take him hunting, but don’t sell your daughters short, they may just outshoot you. Take your wife hunting and she may become your best hunting buddy. But most of all do it now because we all think we have plenty of time to do it later. But sometimes, for some people, in the blink of an eye, tomorrow never comes.
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