The First Hunting Season Without My Dad‏

The First Hunting Season Without My Dad‏
Now for those of you who know me, you may think this is odd since my late father and I didn’t hunt (we were fishermen), but we knew many hunters (even living here in Chicago), and my dad retired to southern Illinois 16 years ago and lived in the middle of prime deer hunting land.
But since my dad passed in April there have been many firsts without him and I knew once fall hit, there would be some more difficult than others.
I live in eastern Will County which is overrun with deer (already two close calls with deer on the roads the last couple of weeks), so I wanted to look up at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), website to see if deer bow (archery), season started October 1st. It does and means deer will start to run.
But checking the year hunting seasons was a fall tradition for my dad and I, we’d talk on the phone (and I usually made an autumn trip to go see him too), and we’d discuss the upcoming season and the fellow hunters we knew.
For those of you who hunt, you know the start of your outdoor season is better than the beginning of a pro sports season.
I used to work in a sporting goods store in the outdoors department, even in Will County deer season is a BIG deal, you get your gear and get ready to go out and hunt.
I know my dad and I felt that way in the spring when new fishing licenses are issued and after all winter being cooped up in the house and now you can go outside and fish.
But today sitting and reading the upcoming hunting schedule without him (and for the thousandth time wanted to call him), it was sobering.
Yeah we closed his estate in July, sold the house & land which had access to prime hunting land. For dad having the access at the end of his property to that hunting land was both annoying (in people wanting to get back there), but also the friends & neighbors had had down there would all come by and he enjoyed that his place became “deer central”.
Both my dad and I read outdoor magazines like Outdoor Life and got the Cabela’s catalog which this time of year and full of hunting apparel and gear. Even though we didn’t hunt, we always would discuss “doghouses”,” scopes” and both of us having Firearms Owners Identification Cards (FOID), we discuss firearms and ammunition. We also took many trips to the local Wal Mart and independent sporting goods stores to look at firearms and ammo.
It was one of those great conversations and trips you get to have with your old man once you’re grown and you have all these memories and can have “buddy” moments.
But the great thing is I have these wonderful memories and asked my dad enough questions that I have some of his extensive knowledge. So I see deer in the woods near my home and the camouflage in the stores on sale and just smile, think of my dad and the great times we had together.

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