Wade Robertson 3.2.19

Shoveling snow isn't as much fun as it used to be, especially when it reaches depths of 12-inches or more. However, it can spark a few memories from the past that you had long forgotten until that special moment when special moments are once again fresh and sweet in your mind.

I awoke and with some trepidation and looked hesitantly out the window. It was snowing hard when I went to bed and a quick glance outside showed the forecast to have been all too accurate, with 8 to 10-inches of snow landed. Rather gloomily I ate breakfast and went outside to begin shoveling.

The wind had obligingly blown several extra inches of snow onto my driveway increasing the total to 12-inches or more. Soon my coat was unzipped, my hip hurt and my back ached as I methodically cleared the way, one shovel full at a time.

Breathing heavily, I paused and leaned on the shovel to take a break. I dislike shoveling, but it is good exercise. In fact, it seemed I’d been shoveling all my life. Suddenly, as surprising as an unexpected gust of wind my memory swirled and I was once again a teenager sitting in the bright yellow VW bug beside my father. We were headed for Route 59 near Backus and the years heavy snows had the roads looking like bobsled runs, plowed up snow four feet high on each side. You couldn’t see a thing left or right and the driveways opened like deep gates cut through on either side.

When we arrived at our hunting spot, the pull-off buried completely, we stopped, grabbed our shovels and began laboriously digging out a parking spot. The plowed snow was thick, heavy and compact -- no fun at all -- but Dad and I suddenly had a brainstorm to make things easier. We used our shovels to cut blocks out of the snow banks. The blocks were roughly two feet square and manageable. We cut them out, lifted them up and tossed them over the edge or to the side. Soon we had cleared a space to park in, VW’s weren’t large, and nestled the car in its little niche.

By the time we’d finished, three or four other cars on the long straight stretch had appeared also for doe season and were busily engaged digging out their spots as well. Dad grinned at me, now there was a good chance enough hunters would be in the woods to move the deer around.

We grabbed our rifles, lunches and dry gloves, then clambered over the plowed bank, down the far side and stepped into the knee deep snow. After 20 yards of this slogging we knew our goal of reaching 3 Mile Creek would be impossible. In fact, just reaching Henline’s Wire would be an accomplishment.

Henline’s Wire was a thick cable stretched parallel to the main road marking the edge of his ancient oil lease. In most places it had fallen to and was buried in the ground, but here and there stretches still ran tree to tree and since the ground was so flat and looked so much alike I’d always welcomed finding it during the day. Then you knew exactly where you were, something I wasn’t so sure of many a time.

Dad was breaking trail and I was huffing and puffing in his wake when suddenly he stopped and raised his rifle. I leaned to the side just in time to see several deer jump up out of the brush and run. They were taking very high, shorter leaps because of the snow depth and it was fascinating to watch the brown deer, dark against the sparkling snow soar high, land and then bound skyward again. In two leaps it seemed they vanished. Dad didn’t get a clear shot.

We’d walked up to within 20 yards or less of the deer, the deep snow prevented them from seeing clearly around when bedded. Dad had actually seen two ears sticking up out of the snow, but the sharp eyed doe had been lying on a little mound and caught the tops of our heads moving at the same instant.

Dad told me to walk straight ahead to the edge of the swamp, find the wire and sit down on a high log or some other vantage point to better see the deer if any came my way. He would circle the swamp and walk back toward me.

I floundered my way the extra 300 yards, barely found the wire in the deep snow and climbed up on a fallen cherry some four feet above the snow. The branch had split off the main trunk, but remained attached, therefore was flat on top and a great seat.

I hadn’t been there five minutes when I saw the heads of several deer bounding up high out of the snow covered, swampy, black brush. Their heads and necks would appear, then vanish, then pop up again. I grabbed the rifle and turned slightly to face them.

At 20 yards they stopped in plain view, the snow touching their bellies and looked back their trail. I lined up, aimed and fired, the deer exploded and ran directly away, all except one.

Dad soon appeared, breathing heavily, red faced, nose running.

“Well?” he asked, looking around.

I pointed and he walked over to the deer hidden in the snow.

He grinned that grin I came so to love and said; “Going to be a terrible drag!” Then he shook my hand and said; “Let’s eat lunch first.”

So there we sat in 2 feet of snow, side by side, father and son, precious moments to be cherished.