A closer look at this painting of Paul’s, reveals the vastness of the surroundings dwarfing the beauty of these magnificent animals. Its been almost 50 years since this annual tradition of hunting deer in Wisconsin has stirred the excitement of my husband and son. The group they hunt with has the same energy going on right now. They await tomorrow morning with wild anticipation. They will don their Thinsulate, bring hand warmers and other things to keep them nice and cozy in their tree stands. Many a nap takes place in those tree stand too.
Over this near century of time, Paul hunted with the original land owner and his sons. We watched their boys grow into young men and shared many good family times together. The original owner has since passed away. His memory lives on in the children and grandchildren he left behind. Time and life situations change as time goes by, but these relationships have lasted almost a lifetime.
Now the group has grown up and have children of their own, who also hunt. The memories of building an actual hunting shack over the years, has been fun to watch and hear about. Each year, something new would be added. It now houses an indoor outhouse. It is heated by a huge stone fireplace, constructed by one of the hunters. It also has electricity and TV, but no running water. I’ve only been there a couple times, but you’d never catch me spending the night. The shack resembles the original home of the real McCoys.
More than hunting or killing deer, this group has become a close knit family in their own right. When they aren’t trying to stay warm in those tree stands, they play cards, tell stories, share their adventures of the day and continue to bond in the shack.
Paul had second thoughts about making the trip this year. It’s hard to be the grandpa of the group. No longer can he chop wood. He can’t do some of the heavy lifting required if they actually shoot something. He isn’t able to keep up with the younger hunters. Yet he is a good cook. Chances are, they’d starve if he didn’t go along. So in order to preserve the hunters, he agreed to tag along again.
I’ve often wondered why Wisconsin only hunts during the week of Thanksgiving, so I did a little research on that. It seems that deer mate during the early weeks of November. In order to keep populating the herd, Breeding has taken place so Wisconsin waits until Thanksgiving to take those daddy deer out of the picture. Sounds like a good way to preserve the herd for future generations. A whole lot of preservation going on.
I’ve grown accustomed to being alone during that week. In the past, it would allow me to take on some project, like redecorating a room – reupholstering a piece of furniture – or making costumes for an upcoming production. Now my time, energy and body are not up for those things, I plan to enjoy some quiet time.
Let’s think about what we have and how we can use it to benefit others in our remaining years. With hearts full of gratitude, let’s thank God for family and friends and moments shared together. Let’s send our prayers of Thanksgiving to God for providing us with more than we need and amazing opportunities to enjoy life.