try to plan some “in-the-woods” time when he’s here. We needed to bring our
deer-blind-trailer in for the summer, so the afternoon was planned around that
trip, and as unlikely as it was, hoping we could find an elusive dropped deer
antler, known as a “shed” as we tromped around through the woods. His dad
Dustin Friesen’s last instructions when dropping him off were “Find a good stick;
every boy needs a good stick”
He loves going to our deer-blind tower, so that was our first stop. The first hurdle
was talking him into leaving his Kindle electronic tablet in the truck, which
Grandma Joyce accomplished with her mix of wisdom, patience and suggestion.
For the next hour, we all went back to school. There are still cattle in the stalk
field around our tower blind, so the lessons began by discussing all the intricacies
of cow poop; the difference between fresh cow pies you don’t step on and the old
dry ones you can; why bugs were crawling around on them and why wild turkeys
would eventually visit them to pick undigested grain out of them. Next was a
lesson on the big cow tracks in the dust that he thought were deer tracks. The
farmer had just burned the pasture next door and cut a bunch of trees for
firewood in the process. We talked about and marveled at the huge thorns on the
locust trees he’d cut. We discussed why he had burned all the tall dead grass and
how it would soon grow back lush and green and make better feed for the cows.
To keep from walking through all the black ash from the burnt grass, we walked
down in the now-dry creek bed that wound and snaked its way through the
pasture. We talked about the distinct trail in the middle of the creek bed made by
all the various animals that used it as a convenient highway, making for easy
traveling and keeping them out of sight in the process. We made certain to dodge
all the “pokey things” that stuck out into the creek. We saw lots of neat stuff and
by that time had quite a collection of “good sticks,” but alas, no antlers, so Jacob
soon lost interest and back to the truck we went. After a picture of him on top of
the row of big round hay bales, we were off to collect the hunting trailer which
was parked on the other end of the property.
After quickly hooking up the trailer in the back corner of a hay field, I asked Jacob
to come along for a hike through the adjacent woods, but staying-in-the-truck-
with-the-Kindle tablet was winning out. At Grandma’s suggestion to try and find
her an antler, he reluctantly came along. We slid down into the creek bed and up
the other side into the woods and began walking. We had only gone a few yards
when there it was; lying along the creek gleaming in the sun like an ivory
colored… well, deer antler! After another quick lesson, he took off by himself like
a shot to try and find another.
We ended the adventure with a great shed antler, the jawbone of a dead cow
complete with teeth, a dried Catalpa bean-pod shaped like a mustache and a
collection of “good” sticks. I can see in the future it’s going to be a challenge to
compete with technology for Jacob’s company in the woods, but as long as I still
have strength and breath, I’ll keep trying!
Steve can be contacted by email at email@example.com.