I saw this picture somewhere on the Internet once – dad and son holding hands and walking into the wild with a comment below: best memories are not made in front of the TV. That couldn’t be truer for me. When I collect all my happiest remembrances with my Old Man, somehow they all end up somewhere in the forest…
I was 4 or 5 when Dad woke me for the morning hunt for the first time. I still remember the only thing I could see when we were approaching the blind in the overwhelming darkness were my yellow wellingtons. Dads whispered, I’m right here, don’t be scared. Time went by, and we made loads of great stuff together: putting new mangers for the game and feeding it in the winter, building high seats… And we hunted together – all seasons, all styles, all possible game. Then the time came for me to become a hunter myself. Dad got me a great old Brno rifle that never failed me. We were still going together – now as equals.
So when my father had his 70th birthday last year, my idea of a perfect present was simple – a new precious memory. The fallow deer rut has just begun and I had an invitation to a great game reserve in the Middle West of Poland and decided to pass it to Dad.
We arrived late in the evening, met Leszek, the game keeper, and discussed the details of the hunt. First morning we took off together in order to get to know the hunting ground. We saw some mouflons and fallow deer females and calves. Then we stalked for two hours. The forest was damp and quiet. We met more game, but too young to shoot.
Short lunch break and we were in the woods again. We chose a comfy high seat close to a vast reed. We have been told a story of a unique buck, called Bristle by Leszek due the interesting antlers the deer wore. “Do not hesitate when you see it, you’ll get only a moment and it’s gone” – we have been reminded. We had waited for hours, there was plenty of movement around, but Bristle did not appear.
Waiting for a particular beast to come makes you almost unwilling to shoot anything else. We saw dozens of red deer, mouflons and fallow deer. But hoping to get The One made us wait and let all the other pass. And so another day passed as well. Our minds were full of exciting views, the bag was empty though.
And there the last day came. After a while spent on the blind an opportunity presented itself when a nice middle aged buck appeared among the trees. Dad made up his mind – that might have been his last chance. He took the rifle, placed the red dot of the Visus on the buck’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The shot placement was perfect – the buck ran a short length and fell. We approached both with joy and respect to this magnificent animal. We cherished the moment, pay respect to the beast and the beautiful forest surrounding us.
During the lunch we relived the fresh memories we made here. But then an idea came: let’s go to the forest one more time. Just for a while to say goodbye.
We sat relaxed on the bench in silence. Talk was redundant, we somehow felt one, Dad, son and the wild. And then we saw him. Like if he had known he was safe. The Bristle appeared on the path in front of us fearing nothing. He allowed me to make a farewell picture and vanished again.
On the way back home Dad said it was his greatest hunting experience. Not because we had a trophy in the bag, we could impress someone with. It was something far more precious than that – a remembrance of something rare and unique. Three days a father and son spent together in this beautiful intense way. It is true – the best memories are not made in front of the TV.