Something Big

We passed the hand warmer around on a cold day in December.  Matthew, my 11-year-old son, got creative and stuck the thing in his shoe.  Rachel, who was spotting for us, didn’t like it much, but she used the hand warmer anyway.  It was that cold; our fingers and toes burned.

I look through the scope of my .308 and watch a dove fly up from the tall, frosty grass near the fence line.  That is when Rachel spotted the deer cautiously walking out into the clearing.  There are two of them, but only one trotted out into the emerging light.  I tell Matthew that this is his shot.  He rests the rifle on some foam rubber on the edge of the stand.  He braces himself, then takes a breath.  The boom of the rifle is so loud in the breaking dawn that my ears are ringing.  We watch the deer stand there, tail twitching for a few seconds, and then it ambles over into the brush near a big live oak.  We can just see the tail.  Matthew reloads, and we wait.  Too late, it’s gone, running into the brush and away.  We never see the second deer again.

We wait a little longer.  Two cardinals fly by the stand and rest on a tree limb, gently swaying in the wind.  I tell Matthew and Rachel that we’ll have a look-see, and we climb out of the stand and walk the ground near the fence line, around the big live oak.  We can’t see any signs of Matthew...

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