A Hunting Experience
My father never owned a gun. He was not a hunter and during the time I was growing up there was no need to own one for protection.
My brother had friends who loved to hunt. When he was eighteen he asked dad if he could get a .22 rifle as he was anxious to join in the fun of hunting. Jim was taught all the safety instructions and I watched and learned them also. It wasn’t long before I knew how to load a gun, how to hold it, and how to shoot it. It was a fun activity!
We didn’t have a shooting range so Jim was often invited to his friend’s house where empty cans were set up, and strings of old Christmas tree lights were hung for targets. There were acres of flat land where no houses were visible so there was no danger to anyone.
One day Jim asked me if I would like to go with him to do some target shooting. I was thrilled. I watched as his friends shot first and then Jim gave the gun to me. I was hesitant to use it. I felt awkward and out of place with Jim’s friends watching. But it was my turn so I took that gun, aimed it, and I began to shoot those cans and Christmas tree bulbs like I was a professional! Everyone was amazed and I was told, “You’re another Annie Oakley!” What fun I had that day!
There was a wooded area not too far from where we lived. On a beautiful autumn day Jim and I decided to experience the real thrill of hunting. Carrying the rifle carefully, Jim and I ventured into the woods.
The woods were beautiful to walk through. I remembered what my father had taught us, “Be quiet and listen to the sounds you can hear in the woods.”
As we were walking and I was enjoying this new adventure, Jim pointed to a nest made of leaves high in a tree. “That’s a squirrel’s nest. Why don’t you shoot at it.”
It was about one hundred feet away. Jim handed me the gun, I aimed, pulled the trigger and heard a noise I shall never forget. It was the squealing of a squirrel falling out of the tree and tumbling to the ground. I saw that poor little thing turning and twisting until it finally landed.
Jim acted shocked, “You did it! You shot a squirrel!”
We went over to where it lay. It was a beautiful large grey squirrel that only moments before was resting in a nest that it had made for protection. Now, because of me, it was dead. I had killed it!
Jim took off his shirt, put the still warm body of the squirrel on it, wrapped it up and we headed for home. He felt our ‘hunting’ trip was a success. Later, the family ate the squirrel for dinner. I didn’t eat. I felt awful.
That day made me realize I would never make hunting a high priority in my life.
Since that time, I have enjoyed walking in the woods many times, but each time I see a squirrel’s nest I am reminded of the time I murdered an innocent little animal! My first hunting experience was to be my last.
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