by Lynda Miller
first hunt emotion excitement death
|Lynda S. Miller
Bringing Home the Bacon
If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting,
then the Gods must clearly smile on hunting.
Jay listened to bones cracking while his dad cut the pig open with large clippers and removed its’ organs. Bile rose up into his throat.
Two weeks earlier
“Jay, come inside and wash your hands, dinner’s ready,” said Dad.
“Yum, spaghetti and meatballs,” Jay said as he sat down at the table. “Dad, when are we going hunting?”
Dad, reached for his second piece of garlic bread. “When the weather turns cold. The weather man’s predicting a cold front in a couple of weeks.”
“Why can’t we go this weekend?” Jay said as he slurped spaghetti through his lips. “Why wait for cold weather?”
“Well, the meat can spoil in the heat.” Dad said.
Jay laughed as he bounced up and down on his toes. He was so excited. This was his first hunt. He couldn’t wait to put on his camouflage clothes and shoot his new 243 rifle. Tomorrow they were going to the gun range to practice shooting.
The next day at the gun range, Jay placed protective covering over his ears, but even then he still heard the cracking and popping of the guns. The attendant yelled, “Cease fire,” over the speaker and all guns stopped. Jay and his dad walked past rows of people with their weapons and took their place to shoot. In seconds the attendant yelled, “Fire on the range.” Jay put the gun on his shoulder like his Dad had showed him and peered through the scope.
“Look through the cross-hairs in the scope at the bull’s eye and shoot. If the bullet is high, low or sideways I’ll need to adjust it,” Dad said.
Jay placed the scope tight against his eye.
“Take the scope off your eye,” Dad said firmly. “You can injure it that way. Hold the scope in front of your eye and look through it. It takes a while to get the hang of it.”
Jay and his Dad left on a cold, frosty Saturday morning two weeks later. They were meeting Uncle Joe and two other men at the camp. The hour and a half drive seemed an eternity to Jay. He couldn’t keep still. He rolled his window down and let the cold wind flow into the car. Then he rolled it up. He laid the seat back and tried to sleep, then sat up abruptly. He pushed buttons on the radio to find another station, but only got static. “I’m bored, how much longer is it dad?”
“We have about thirty minutes to go,” said Dad.
After arriving and unpacking, everyone jumped on a four-wheeler and headed for the forest. Riding on the four-wheeler was fun. The cold wind whipped at Jay’s face as he rode behind his dad. He hugged his dads’ waist as tight as he could. He thought for sure he would fly straight off into the bushes as they bounced over the rough terrain. He was glad he dressed warm. Jay concentrated on looking for pigs. He wanted to shoot one so he could have his very own bacon.
Back at the camp an early dinner was served then everyone headed out to the blinds. “Good luck Jay. We hope you get a deer or a pig,” the men said.
Jay thought, I can’t wait to see the deer blind. Dad said you have to climb up on a ladder to get into it. I hope I don’t slip. I wonder how it feels to shoot an animal. What if I can’t shoot it? What if I miss when I shoot? How will I look? Oooh, I wish I hadn’t eaten, my tummy feels funny.
“Since this is your first hunt Jay, you’re first up the ladder, and first to shoot, Dad said.”
Jay excitedly climbed the steel rung ladder. His Dad and Uncle followed. Dad handed him his gun. As he sat in the chair he looked around the blind. It was real high in the air and set back in the trees. It looked like a box with windows on three sides. The forest was full of thick underbrush. Some areas had bunches of trees and other parts were bare. The absence of noise was strange to his ears.
“Remember what I told you?” Dad whispered. “Be very quiet or you will scare the animals away.”
“Yes sir,” Jay whispered. But, he couldn’t sit still. He fidgeted and got up and down. He walked from one window to another until his dad, in a stern voice, told him to be still. This part was hard. Time passed. Jay glanced out the window and spotted wild pigs. They were ugly and enormous with black scraggly hair and four tusk jutting out of their mouth.
“Look,” Jay said in a low voice anxious with excitement. “Look at the pigs.”
“Okay Jay, take your shot.” Dad said
His stomach tightened and his hands trembled. He raised the gun and settled it on his shoulder. He picked his target and waited. His gun grew heavier. Then he shot. BANG! The sound pierced through his ear plugs and into his ear. He watched the animal fall onto its knees and lay down. Excitement overwhelmed him.
“You got it!” Dad said proudly.
Jay was quiet.
They stayed for an hour more then decided to go back to camp.
“Jay, we need to gut the pig and remove the organs before we leave,” Dad said. “The vultures will have a feast tomorrow. Do you want to help?”
“No, I think I’ll stay back here and watch.” Jay, heard the bones cracking, and watched his dad cut the pig open with large clippers and removed its’ organs. Bile rose up into his throat. The shiny insides looked to still be moving as they slithered to the ground and his stomach lurched. Then regret hit him and emptiness filled his gut. Once the carcass was cleaned and loaded into a large box on back of the four-wheeler, they drove back to camp, and hung it in a tree. Shortly after, others arrived and heard that Jay got his first kill; they patted him on the back and congratulated him over and over.
While taking turns at the showers, they watched TV, snacked, and then went to bed. Five a.m. would come early.
Jay tossed back and forth in his bed thinking about the day. He killed an animal. He never imagined he would feel so weird. The emptiness in his gut was still there. The cleaning of it was terrible. He wasn’t sure he could do that. He still saw the animal’s eyes staring at him in disbelief. He said a prayer to be forgiven. Finally, sleep overpowered him.
Blinding light flashed in Jay’s face and he pulled the covers over it. “Time to get up buddy, breakfast is ready. Wear your long johns. It’s freezing outside,” Dad said.
Five a.m. had come way too early for Jay. He yawned, then dressed and went into the kitchen. “Morning Jay, hope you slept well,” everyone said.” Grab you some breakfast.” The food smelled good but Jay said, “No thanks, I’m not hungry.”
When breakfast was over, paper and plastic were hastily put into the garbage can, the table was wiped and pans were washed and left to drain.
Jay heard the swish of coats as the men put them on. There was some mild cursing as they attempted to slide their gloves up over their fingers. Someone yelled, “Hey Jay, you gonna shoot a deer today?” Then the men laughed.
Jay was real quiet on the way to the blinds. Could he shoot another animal? Maybe none would come by today. But, it wasn’t long before a deer appeared.
“Take the shot Jay,” Dad said quietly.
Jay raised his gun, looked into the scope and found his target. He hesitated, then took a big breath and shot. BANG! The shot echoed throughout the forest and the deer dropped.
“I got it!” He said proudly.
Then his Uncle shot a deer. Once the carcasses were cleaned and placed into the boxes they headed back to camp. Jay’s uncle placed a tarp into the bed of his truck and they laid the carcasses on it. He was taking them to the meat processor. Everyone clean the camp, then packed up, locked up and headed for home.
As the car raced down the highway Jay thought about his weekend. His first kill was hard. He felt bad about killing the pig, but, then he thought, it was cool to bring home meat for a meal. Jay laid his head back on the seat, and slowly drifted off to sleep, never realizing he had taken his first step toward manhood.