I woke up with the sound of laughter, at 4:30 AM in the morning. It was so cold it felt like I was buried under a pile of snow. I had a pounding headache and was feeling disoriented, but when I finally got my bearings I knew I was still in Pahsimeroi Valley. I walked into the kitchen to the smell of hot sizzling bacon and saw my dad, sister, Lilia, Henry, and Mr. Page. Before I had a chance to say a word we were in the car headed to go hunting. 

My dad drove through the darkness like a silent streak. When we finally got to our hunting spot we jumped out of the car and set up. I was holding my rifle ready in anticipation if a white tail deer came into range of my shot. The morning was still freezing cold and there were no deer that had come into view for a while. But then suddenly a white tail buck came right behind us. He was a beauty with brown fur and a good set of antlers. I looked at him and he looked at me and it was like we were staring into each other’s souls. 

Then I whispered to my dad, “That’s my deer.” 

I ended up not being able to take the shot on him because he was out of range, but I still had high hopes.

Later that night we set out to a new spot, Mr. Page said “it was like a magnet for whitetails.” 

When we got there I stayed very quiet so if there was an animal we didn’t spook it. I was leading the pack through the tall grass & sage when I saw a four point whitetail buck. Quickly and quietly I hustled and hid behind a tree.  I positioned my rifle and was about to shoot, but he smelled me! Sadly he ran away and I was so mad.

 “I just want to get one so bad!” I exclaimed. 

It was getting dark, and we had not gotten any action for a while then something happened. The same deer I saw early that morning was back! He was still his golden brown color and had his good sized antlers. 

Then I said in shock, “That’s the deer I wanted to get this morning; he’s back!” 

So I got my rifle ready and he was about 120 yards away standing broadside. I tried to take a shot but my fingers were as cold as ice. Then he walked behind a towering big brown tree presenting no shot. So I warmed up my hands and waited about a good minute before he came into view. This was the longest minute of my life.

It felt like everything was in slow motion yet later it felt like the moment was so fast. The deer finally presented a shot. A loud boom went off as I saw the beautiful deer jump what seemed like 10 feet in the air. I was so in shock that it took me a while to process what had happened. 

Then my sister ended up asking, “Did you get it?” I burst out with tears. 

They were tears of joy because I knew I had gotten it! But that was when I didn’t know what would happen next.

I waited a good while to let the deer expire.

My whole family went to the place I shot the deer and that was when we found a blood trail.

This was my first time following a blood trail so I didn’t really know what it meant. 

My dad said to me in a concerned yet kind voice, “Whatever happens I never want you to give up hunting because of it.” 

I was a little confused at what I thought was just a random comment, and then kept following the blood trail. We followed the trail for as long as we could until we ran out of light plus we didn’t want to bump the deer and push it further away. That was when I figured it out.

I finally knew that what my dad meant by saying  “whatever happens I never want you to give up hunting because of it.” I knew that he meant if we never find the injured animal please keep hunting. Things happen in life that we never anticipate but that doesn’t mean we give up.  Then I started bawling. 

I thought to myself “what have I done? I injured an animal that now has to live a terrible life.” 

At that point my family was trying so hard to make me feel better, but I just couldn’t break the dark haze of sadness. I wanted so bad to help that animal and even go looking for it all through the night. I wanted to do something, I felt so trapped. Finally I thought to myself “You know what I can learn from this.” “Dad, I’m going to learn from this, it just means I have to practice shooting and hunting more and more,” I said with an upbeat attitude. So then we got to the cabin and went right to sleep so we could get an early start the next day.

We got out into the field very early and started searching for more blood. It took us a few minutes to get back on track. Then I kept seeing more and more blood, and that got my hopes up. I was walking and looking as hard as I could, but the blood trail had stopped. 

My dad said to everyone, “We should all split up and grid the area to cover more ground,” and so we did. 

A few seconds later my sister, Ava, said, “I found it!” 

I was about 30 yards away when I heard her say that, and then I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I felt like a bolt of lightning zipping through the trees. Then I got there and was overjoyed to see that we had finally found the deer. As I bent down and stroked his fur, it felt as soft as a velvet blanket. His beautiful antlers faded from scattered black to pure white just like the sand on the beach fades from wet to dry.
It was just a magical moment as we all stood over the animal thanking God for it’s sacrifice, and praying.

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