The "Firsts"

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

pheasant couldn’t make a hasty exit.

More than ten years later, I was pheasant hunting with my youngest son, Kirk. We were walking along a field border to join some other hunters. Kirk had never been pheasant hunting, so I was recounting tales of my past pheasant hunting trips and embellishing (ever so slightly) my own shooting skills. Suddenly, a rooster popped up in front of us.

Kirk raised his gun instantly and shot. The bird dropped. He turned, looked at me with a big grin and said, “Dad, did you shoot?” Of course I didn’t shoot. That bird was flushed, shot and retrieved by our Lab before my neck quit snapping back and forth from the shock and awe. I realized that, at age 14, my youngest son was quicker than me and probably a better wing shot. This was a humbling experience.

As we walked on, Kirk described in detail—several times—how he had shot this first pheasant. He encouraged me to be more alert, explaining that a successful hunter was always ready. He even offered pointers on how I should carry the gun so I could react faster.

This tendency to gloat after their first kills, usually at my expense, was characteristic of all three of my sons. After Tim shot his first turkey, he just had to take me on a turkey hunt. He concluded that his hunting skills and woodsmanship obviously exceeded mine.

I accommodated his enthusiasm and we went hunting. I was the only one carrying a shotgun. He called for me and directed my every move. He did an excellent job of leading the hunt and we had a great time. I didn’t shoot a turkey that day, although I came very close, and I am kind of glad that I didn’t get one because I would never have heard the end of it.

Still more to come…

My sons are grown now and have left home to make lives for themselves. Yet we still have several firsts left to complete. Two of my sons have not shot their first turkey. None of my sons have shot a giant Canada goose from a Missouri River sandbar, despite their efforts.

I took lots of pictures of our hunting trips as my sons were growing up. I am converting these pictures to computer files and assembling them into digital slide shows. One of these slide shows I titled “Firsts” because our first kills were very memorable and special. They are the subjects of stories that we continue to retell and share with each other.

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