I well remember my grandfather telling me how time speeds up when you’re older. Well, like most youth I wasn’t particularly interested, but did remember him saying so since he repeated it often, shaking his head and staring at the calendar with a sad, wistful expression.
“It’s madding how the days just fly by, days seem like hours, weeks like days and a year like 2 or 3 months. You just get through shoveling the snow and you’re mowing the lawn. Blink once or twice and you’re shoveling again. How old are you, boy?”
“I’m 17, Pop.”
He gazed at me as if seeing me for the first time, shook his head and filled his pipe, lighting it.
“I remember going up to the hospital to see you for the first time. It was snowing hard, probably should have stayed home, but your grandmother would have walked barefoot to see you and your mom, our first grandchild, so I drove,” he said. “You were a big baby, your poor mother was exhausted, but had a radiant smile when she saw your grandma. I thought she would burst with pride holding you. Even very young you were happy, always a happy baby.”
Pop looked up at something I couldn’t see, a place I’d yet to visit, an emotion undiscovered. I saw it in his eyes and it made me suddenly serious and sad.
Then he brightened and we jumped in the car and headed to camp. Hunting season was rushing upon us and we had a lot to accomplish. At camp, I went back to being a beast of burden and for whatever reason he worked me doubly hard. It took me years to realize it was punishment for being so young.
Well, time passed quickly as it does, and suddenly Grandma and Pop were gone, a year apart 42 and 43 years ago. They left a hole that still can’t be filled, but many wonderful memories, teachings and lessons remain. Pop always preached preparing in advance, don’t be caught rushing around in a panic because you were too lazy or preoccupied.
“Wade, the Good Lord’s given us a brain and it seems to me He’d like us to use it. He’s also given us a wonderful natural world to enjoy and truly appreciate. You can’t enjoy or appreciate anything running around in a blind panic. Prepare in advance, then you can relax and enjoy the moment,” he said.
“Now, don’t forget that. Get busy splitting the firewood. In deer season you’ll enjoy the heat and the stove. Wait till the last minute and your wood won’t burn properly and cutting firewood in the snow or rain when you could be hunting something else is ridiculous.”
Over the years I have come to appreciate those words. I’ve put projects off and always been sorry I have, whether it’s sighting in my rifle, cutting firewood, buying my license, practicing with the bow or a thousand other things. Do everything in advance and you can relax.
Well, time rushed by again and squirrel season opens today. Since this article has been written in advance I can assure you I’m prepared for it. Labor Day I grabbed my .22 Magnum rifle and crossbow, then drove up to Matt Wingard’s. Matt built a covered shooting shed and for that I was thankful as it was raining cats and dogs in the morning. I felt sorry for Labor Day campers in weather like this.
I placed a dime-sized yellow sticker on a one-inch orange square, my favorite sighting target, drove out to the 50-yard mark, placing my archery target and rifle target side by side, then drove back.
In the cozy shed neither rain nor wind could torment. I took my time setting up the sandbags and settling in the rifle. I noticed my parallax was off and adjusted it so the crosshair remained still no matter where my head was on the stock. Then I loaded the magazine and settled in.
When shooting off the bench, always have a very solid rest for your rifle’s buttstock. If the rear of your rifle isn’t rock solid, it’s difficult to get off an accurate shot, the rifle can move easily in the short time it takes the firing pin to fall, the powder to burn and the bullet to exit the barrel.
My first shot hit inside the yellow dot, the second as well. Either one would have touched a squirrel’s eye. Well, that was very easy, just the way I like it. I put the rifle back in the car.
Next, I hauled the crossbow out and put field tips on the bolts. The first shot touched the edge of the white, center circle, just as it did last year. I took the scope two clicks to the right and fired. The arrow hit dead center and maybe half an inch high. Perfect.
I then screwed on the new Rage slip-cam broadheads, no rings anymore thank goodness. I hate those rings with a passion.
I aimed carefully and fired. The Rage hit exactly in the same arrow hole as the last shot; thank goodness I’d pulled the previous arrow. The broadhead worked perfectly.
Now, I’m good to go and the night before the opener I can sit back and truly enjoy camp life, no rushing around at all.