Does it seem crazy to drive to the heartland of Nebraska following an arctic cold front with a 1.5 and 3.5 year old all in the name of deer hunting? Possibly, but there we were Beau, Barrett, Zack & myself. I’d just given Zack a quick briefing on “Car seat Orientation 101” so he could strap in the boys, or carpet commandos as he refers to them, into their car seats. Once everyone was safely secured in the car seats, we waved goodbye to mom, who still looked fairly uncertain about the entire endeavor and headed east. Luckily the snow and ice had melted and the roads were dry, although the thermostat in the truck was still hovering in the single digits. This would be interesting.
A couple months earlier, my good friend Zack had convinced me to head out to Nebraska with him deer hunting. He wasn’t so concerned about when or how (archery, muzzleloader or rifle) as long as we made the trip. I explained that my “free” time for the fall had already been used up on two previous hunting trips. But after a little more discussion I decided that: One, if I took both boys Wendy could have a much needed weekend for herself and Two, that Beau had made the trip the previous fall so we needed to keep the tradition alive. For the record Wendy was invited to go but she thought we should keep it a boy’s weekend.
It should also be noted that we wouldn’t be exactly be roughing it. The cabin with heat/ac, running water and Dish network should more appropriately be referred to as the luxury hunting lodge, which makes a perfect hunting camp for the little guys in the middle of December. We arrived about 10 o’clock that evening, well past boys’ bedtime and I was hopeful that I’d be able to pull them out of their car seats and tuck them directly into bed. Of course that didn’t go exactly as planned as they both sat huddled in the strange bed looking terrified. So we extended bedtime and they joined us in the living room eating candy until close to midnight.
One of my primary objectives of the trip was to make sure the boys had a good time. So to ensure things went smoothly I wouldn’t be doing any hunting, not to mention I’d have my hands full just keeping up with the boys. One of my big fears is that they won’t grow up loving the outdoors as much as I do. I’ve had too many friends whose dads are enthusiastic outdoorsmen but the kids want nothing to do with it. Firstly and admitingly, hunting is somewhat of an acquired passion. Who really in their right mind wants to wake up a 4am to hike for miles, wade through half frozen sloughs all while the temperature is in the single digits and snow is spitting in your face? How do you teach someone to love that misery? I don’t know the answer but I know our dad somehow convinced us it was all worthwhile. Zack and I spent a good amount of time discussing this topic over the course of the weekend. My plan at this point in their lives is based around, lots of candy, little yelling and short exciting spurts outside. Which reminds me, I need to refill Uncle Dan’s candy jar.
Saturday morning we got a late start. That’s the one problem the luxury hunting lodge. It encourages you to stay up late watching movies, instead of shivering yourself to sleep in a soggy tent. We strapped the boys back into the truck and spent several hours driving the dirt roads trying to find Zack the best spot to hunt that evening. With fresh snow on the ground it was obvious where the deer had been traveling so we thought we had a pretty good plan. The boys and I returned to the cabin for lunch and naps and Zack started walking towards the area that looked the most promising. We spent the afternoon watching cartoons and eating Dan’s candy. At sundown we got a call from Zack on the radio that he was ready for a ride back, empty handed. Normally a crack shot, he had missed a shot at a buck that evening, which meant he’d be at it again the next day.
Saturday was pretty much a repeat of the previous day but we found some new country for Zack to explore, so again he spent the afternoon in the woods while we played at the cabin. We got a call well before sundown, always a good sign, that he had shot a doe and was ready for a ride. I was excited for the boys to get an up close look at the deer, although truthfully they didn’t pay it much attention. I think Beau made the comment that it was really big. We headed back the cabin to skin the deer and cook some dinner. We spent the evening celebrating and watching movies.
Sunday morning consisted of trying to restore the cabin to its original condition prior to the arrival of the carpet commandos and I only slightly went into panic mode when the belt to the vacuum cleaner broke only seconds into its use. If ever the cabin needed the carpets vacuumed this was the time. I was able to duct tape the belt and somewhat finish the job. All things considered we had a great weekend. Beau asked for more candy when we were almost back to Fort Collins, when I said we didn’t have any more he wanted to drive back to the cabin, so maybe my plan partially worked?