Maturing of a growing hunter Part 4 "12 Years Old"
12 YERAS OLD
Here I am sitting in school counting the hours, minutes, and seconds as they go by. Knowing that Dad will be picking me up at the end of the day to go grouse hunting makes the day creep by. This hunting trip is especially significant because it will be the first season that I have my hunting license.
This is the 1974 squirrel truck, but you get the point
After what seemed to be days the last bell rang and there was Dad in the Squirrel Truck, a dark blue 1987 Ford F-350 crew cab all packed and ready to go for our five hour drive to Forks, Washington. I have been waiting for this my whole life and the whole drive all I can think about is shooting my first grouse.
We get to camp and my brother Eric is already there and has his camp set up. Since it is around 8 o'clock Dad sets up the truck camper where he sleeps and then helps me set up my tarp and cot. And for the next hour we sit around the campfire in anticipation of the next days' hunt. The sun vanishes into the clouds over the Pacific Ocean and we all retreat to our beds.
When I finally get to sleep, the night consists of me waking up what seems like every hour to check if the sun is coming up. When I saw a hint of dawn sneaking over the Olympic Mountains I got up and started the fire and waited for everyone else to get up.
The sun setting over the Pacific Ocean Forks, WA.
When people started to roll out of bed the fire was hot and ready so they could put their boots on with warm feet. We all got some breakfast and loaded up in the truck and hit the logging roads. The morning fog cloaked the landscape, due to the proximity to the pacific ocean. The fog encased everything it touched with a heavy layer of moisture.
We got to a road where we normally park the truck and walk due to the ditches dug to keep vehicles out. I was carrying a Remington 20 gauge pump that my older siblings had used as their first hunting shot gun in years past.
We were walking around a switch back and a grouse flushed out of a tree and sailed to the bottom of the deep valley. Another grouse flushes out of a tree and as it goes to land in another tree I pull up and pull the trigger. The grouse never made it to the branch and both my brother and my Dad said it looked like I hit it. We sent our German Wire Haired Pointing Griffon Alex into the dense underbrush. After a few minutes I too climbed down into the soaking wet brush to try and find my bird. My search ended in disappointment, discouraged I climbed back up the hill to the road where my Dad and Brother were waiting. Dad offers some advice "Maybe next time let the bird land before you take a shot at it."
For some reason I don't remember my first duck, grouse or any of my first game birds. I do however remember some of my first failures that taught me what I needed to advance to the next level in hunting.