The fall season is at our doorstep and Thursday marked the opener for antelope season in Nebraska. This hunting season has presented me with a great opportunity, what I hope to be the beginning of a new era.
I have been prepping for August 20th for a couple months now by scouting, glassing, practicing etc. I have not been alone in this process, my newest hunting buddy has been with me every step of the way: my 3 year old son, Cody. Whether it's been going out for an evening drive to try to spot some antelope or sitting on a hill glassing them, he's shown an excitement and an interest in it. With a stop at Sonic on the way out of town to get his favorite slushy and a treat, he's more than happy to accompany me.
Although, I'm still not sure he knows exactly what we're looking for, despite my best efforts to explain it to him, because he told his mother he is excited for "cantaloupe seasoning." Even after showing him pictures of antelope and pointing them out to him when we've seen them, I believe he still thinks we are out to bag one of those elusive melons.
But I digress, I have been pumped for the season to open and this past week I've found myself talking about it nonstop. As I gathered all my gear together, I noticed two little eyes watching my every move. Soon enough he quietly asked me, "Daddy can I go with you?" All the sudden my entire mindset changed. Maybe this hunt wouldn't be as productive as I had imagined, but it would be a far greater memory to have him along with me, and what will hopefully be the first of hundreds of hunts and outings. I told him he could come with me and he beamed a smile from ear to ear.
Soon enough we had his snacks, juice, and candy packed along with his toilet paper roll binoculars hanging around his neck. It was the cantaloupe seasoning opener and, in the words of Ted Nugent, we were locked, cocked and ready to rock doc!
I've decided to break the events of our hunt down into a timeline.
It was an evening set, since I didn't figure a 3 year old would do to well on a full day antelope set, starting at 4:00pm
4:00 - We are packed and on the road
5:00 - We are set up in the blind
5:01 - Dug into our candy
5:05 - Drank our first cup of juice
5:10 - We want the Sandwiches mom packed us
5:11 - We've had enough sandwiches, we want our candy again
5:30 - Gotta pee.
5:45 - We want our candy again.
6:00 - It seems the tables have turned...every time I try to talk to him I get told to be quiet...
6:05 - Gotta pee.
6:15 - I learn that Cody does not appreciate taking his tic tacs out of their noisy container and dumping them in a ziplock bag. I know this because he is crying hysterically and asking why I did that.
6:17 - I'm now putting tic tacs back into the noisy container because crying is much louder than the tic tacs!
6:30 - We are both covered in half eaten candy, dry dusty dirt, and Cow hair. The blind smells like a sugar factory so I'm hoping the antelope all have a cold and their noses are stuffy.
6:45 - Gotta pee.
7:15 - Drank the rest of the water we had.
7:30 - Gotta pee.
7:45 - Heading back to the vehicle, holds out his hand "Here daddy you can have the antelope I shot."
7:50 - We hear coyotes howling off in the distance so we stop and listen.
"How many half miles away you think they are daddy?"
8:00 - We are packed out, in the car seat, and struggling to stay awake.
It has only been a few days since our outing and already I look back on it and smile. Even though we did not see an antelope, it was a successful hunt. To see the excitement in my sons eyes just to be out there in the blind and to come home from work now and see him set up in his "hunting blind" trying to shoot an antelope (he finally realized we're not hunting melons) brings a big smile to my face and makes me one proud daddy. I know my wife and I will do everything we can to instill this bowhunting tradition into both of our sons...that is what it's all about.
The Lighter Side of the Arrow