Just as the first real cool weather of the fall hits, bags of corn begin flying off shelves. Small 6 & 12-volt batteries become hard to find, and truck after truck hauling four wheelers and UTVs are heading into the country. Every hunter knows if you don't get to your hunting property and get ready now...it could be a long, boring season.
My 8-year-old son accompanied me on my trip to our lease near Llano. All the way up, we talked about deer and bucks and hogs and shooting. I had filled up the feeder with corn about 3 weeks earlier and was really anxious to find out what if anything had been there and what kind of deer and pigs I would see on the game camera.
Driving across the ranch I couldn't help but notice how much the rain we've been getting had helped keep everything green. Most years, by this time the grass is dry and brown and the vegetation, is a little thin. As we pulled up to the feeder I could see something had made quite a few tracks underneath. Now I was really excited to see pictures from the game cam.
I climbed up the ladder of my feeder, standing on top of the platform my neighbor Alan Tegeler had welded to the top and un-twisted the wire on the lock of the barrel ring. I had to wire it closed because raccoons had raided so many times.
When I opened it, I saw there was room for a couple of bags, so I carried two 50lb bags of corn up the ladder and topped it off. After securing the lid, I climbed back down and could wait to check the game camera. I opened the case and the digital read-out was faint, showing only 18 pictures had been taken. The batteries were almost dead.
Luckily, I picked up new batteries at the feed store. After replacing them I looked at the SD card and there were only 2 pictures with deer in them. Rather disappointed I replaced the card, reprogrammed the camera and headed to the blind.
When Garrett and I opened the door, a mouse scurried out. I looked all around to make sure no wasps or snakes were inside and spotted the mouse's nest in the carpet that had pulled loose from the ceiling. I cleared the nest, reattached the carpet and Garrett and I sat there for a moment talking about our favorite things about the lease.
"It’s a great view. You can hear the birds start chirping and the mountains…it’s beautiful," Garrett said. His comment took me somewhat by surprise, I wasn't aware he was so aware. He went on to say his favorite part was "probably coming to see the sunrise and see all the animals...I mean it's amazing when you come here in the morning, it's amazing." And so are you son!
After closing the blind, Garrett knew we were heading to do what he really rides along for...shooting. My friend Alan also built a great shooting table, for sighting in rifles. I slid my father's model 34 Remington .22 out of the boot and pulled out a brick of shells.
Garrett could hardly contain his excitement. "Can I load it daddy?" he asked. After securing the target, I led Garrett to get out the 14 bullets the bolt action .22 holds and he quickly slid them down the receiving tube. When it was loaded, he laid it across the table, pulled the stock against his should, took aim and squeezed the trigger.
I had put a piece of blue painter's tape on the target and Garrett's first shot had hit his mark. The target was only 15 yards away and he was a little off center, but he hit it. He repeated the process at least 100 times. Shoot, bolt, shoot, run out of bullets. Re-load, shoot!
Looking at the video, my smile is much wider than his. I remember 50 plus years ago another father taking his son out to the country, with an exact rifle...at almost the exact time in his life and letting him shoot. It helped him become a safe, successful hunter. Hopefully, Garrett will one day get to do the same, for his son.