Have you ever read a hunting story written by an 8-year old? A few weeks ago we were hoeing out the basement and came across a box my mother had given me about 30 years ago containing some mementos of the high-water marks in my young life. I found all my report cards, my SAT scores, a newspaper clipping covering one of my Hot Stove League baseball successes, and other artifacts from my childhood. No surprises, until I spotted my first effort at outdoor writing.
It was a fictional handwritten composition, 200 words long, and was strangely titled “Going West in a Covered Wagon.” It had nothing to do with covered wagons, or going west. Maybe I was studying Conestoga wagons in my American history class. Or maybe I had been watching “Wagon Train” on TV. Those are a couple of guesses, but either way I’m still not good at titles.
Here it is for your reading pleasure (or displeasure, as the case may be), mistakes and all.
Going West in a Covered Wagon
Once long ago my family were going West in a covered wagon. We were waiting by the river. One day I thought I would go hunting.
I got my gun and started out. When I got to the woods I stopped and I saw three baby fawns with their mother. I walked slowly away from them. Then I turned around and started out.
I saw a rabbit and I raised my gun to my shoulder. Boom! I shot. The rabbit fell to the ground. I said to myself, “I am tired of rabbits.” Next day I said, “I am going hunting for something big. I will kill a deer or a bear. I want to kill something big.”
I started out and when I got a little ways into the woods I saw a bear! I raised my gun to my shoulder. Boom! I shot, the bear fell. I was very happy that day. I ran home to tell my father. He came to help drag the bear out.
That night I was busy eating the bear. I ate and ate. Then my father said, “I guess you are ready for a bigger gun.” So my father gave me his gun and he bought a new one.
Not bad for an 8-year old. Many will be happy to know I ate what I killed. Although I said nothing about eating the rabbit, I must have thought bear meat was pretty good. (Or maybe I sat at the campfire choking it down with my mother shouting from inside the Conestoga, “Young man, you’re not going to bed until you eat that entire bear!”)
I killed the bear with one shot even though my gun was apparently a boy’s gun, and not a man’s gun. I don’t remember if I coveted my father’s rifle or not. I probably did – I do remember desperately wanting his hunting knife. Maybe I was trying to throw him a hint.
To say “I’m tired of rabbits” seems odd. In my non-fiction life the only thing I had ever shot was a feathered visitor to Grandma’s birdfeeder (which cost me my BB gun privileges), so how could I have been tired of shooting rabbits? A few years into the future, my beagle and I would become avid rabbit hunters. And why did I shoot a bear, and not a buck with gigantic antlers?
Maybe it was because around that time a hunter stopped by the neighbor’s house to show them his bear. I was fascinated by it. Or maybe because of the little carved wooden Japanese Hokkaido brown bear my aunt gave me when I was six or seven. I still have it.
The story doesn’t show much to be proud of (other than I was pretty good at cursive). I focused mostly on killing, but what 8-year old has an advanced hunting ethic? I was clearly at “the shooting stage” and far from “the sportsman stage.” I did, however, extend mercy to those triplet fawns and their mother, so score one for a budding conservationist.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. To read more of Steve Sorensen’s thoughts about hunting, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com.