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December 30, 2009

Old Guys Know How To Hunt

By Scott Bestul

You don’t recognize the man in today’s photo. That’s my dad. He turned 80 a month ago, and I did not have to dress him up for this picture. I took it a couple minutes before we left for an afternoon bowhunt together. Temps at dusk would hover around zero, and it was windy to boot. Pops didn’t even question going when I called him that afternoon. He just dug into his closet and pulled out some extra layers.

So he’s a tough old Norwegian. But here’s the other thing; Dad has had one rough season. He’s been skunked more times than either of us can count. Few of the deer he’s seen have been in bow range. I’ve put him in every one of my best stands, and he’s been drubbed virtually every time. He’s having—as we like to say—“one of those years.”

But if he’s getting frustrated, I can’t tell. Well I take that back… He did sigh heavily when a local kid killed a 140” buck out of a stand he’d been skunked in two days before. But mostly he just shrugs his shoulders and smiles. Then he tells me about the coyotes he heard, or the chickadee that entertained him from a nearby branch. Those little things are enough to keep him out there, and truly enjoying himself.

It’s tempting to believe that deer hunting is all about killing deer. Some folks take things  a step further and insist that it’s all about shooting big deer. Not so. Sometimes the veterans are here to show us that punching a tag is the exclamation point on what can be a very, very long sentence. Dad’s example this season has reminded me of that. In just a few days, he’ll have to hang up his bow until next fall. I’m hoping he gets a close encounter in that too-short period of time. I don’t think dad cares, though. He just likes to hunt.

Comments (27)

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from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

you can let him know I feel his pain. having seen only one deer (a nice 8 pointer) this archery season. the deer was headed on a course down our trails to where it would've came within 15 yards of me but I couldn't get my bow off it's hook and he commenced to stare me down then turn around and leave never to return.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

You are blessed to have him to hunt with you. My dad was not overly interested in the great outdoors and took very little time for it with me. I, on the other hand, as regulars on this site have probably figured out, am passionate about it and am blessed to have two kids that hunt and fish with me on a regular basis. Cherish each moment with Dad and give thanks.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

my dad was also not so big into the hunting thing so most of what i learned i had to gleen from others or learn on my own. i don't know where i got it from but i love the outdoors and couldn't imagine my life without it except maybe being in prison or dead by now. you have a special dad who gave you more than most kids could wish for. i want to be that dad. especially being able to get out and still enjoy just the hunting part at such an advanced age. your dad will die a happy and fulfilled man. best of luck to him and i hope he shoots a monster! send a pic if he does.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from idahooutdoors wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Being out there is what it is all about, and I hope I can still play in the field at age 80........

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jjas wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Could it be that your father has just gained some perspective over the years?

I have a few mounts on the wall and when I killed those deer and had them mounted I just knew they would carry special meaning for me forever....

They don't. I rarely even look @ them. The mounts just don't matter to me anymore.

But the memories sure do.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mutt wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

it's always good just to get outside. it doesn't matter what you get or if you get. now being a father of two kids under 5 the quiet is worth more than gold.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Tell your Dad that he's my hero. In less that 25 years I'll be at that certain age and be inspired by his determination.
I just hope my boys are there to help out in case I get one to drag out.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

I too have had "one of those seasons" but i have the entire month of January to change that. Like your Dad, if i don't kill a buck, it won't be the end of the world, as i enjoyed many quality hunts and some not so much but i'm glad for the chance to be out there doin' it. Hope your dads luck changes fast.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Great post,I wish I could have one last hunt with my father but a massive heart attack took him from us 5 years ago.In his memory I always hunt with his Parker Hale on the first and last day of every season since.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

After many years of hunting, punching a tag was a must! But when I transferred to Eielson AFB Alaska and blessed being around the greatest individuals I have ever met and helping those around me, it truly changed my perspective in Hunting and Fishing.

From Clays archives of bookmarks, places, information and things to read,

During my 4-year tour (1986-90) at Eielson Air Force Base Alaska, I've been asked how many bears have I taken. I had hundreds of chances. I had my crosshairs on many with a round in the chamber of my 338 Win Mag with Nosler 250 grain partitions loaded at 2800 fps and a harvest ticket in my backpack. An easy one shot clean kill everyone. I never pulled the trigger though.

Why you ask?

The beauty and respect of one a Hunter to the other (the bear) perhaps? Most of all the cost of having it mounted I couldn't afford and I knew in the back of my mind that if I did pull the trigger, the hunt was over. I wasn't ready for the hunt to end, never. I wanted more days to hunt, just to be out there. Even if I came home empty handed, it didn't matter. The awesome power, to watch a Grizzly role rocks the size of my ATV like a basketball, hunting for rodents. I never have taken a bear until I moved back to Arkansas.

Most of all, being alone on a mountain ridge, setting on a giant rock overlooking the endless landscape where perhaps no man ever walked.

To watch a snow flurry on a far mountain ridge and feel the Lord setting next to me enjoying what God has made.

I may have come home empty handed,
but my mind is full of awesome memories
it is a experience, I'll never forget!

But the most memorable days ever was with my Father

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

For those of you fortunate to still hunt with your Father, savor it like a fine wine. As time passes on, the better it gets a and then it’s gone

I have a Ameristep Dog House blind and I've shot more deer out of it than all the stands I've used!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

I have nothing but respect for that gentleman. I have just hit sixty and although I feel pretty darned good, I wonder what hunting will be like when I turn 80.
I have gotten pretty picky about the deer I now shoot. All the planets have to be properly aligned plus I just have to be in the mood to shoot a deer anymore. It's kind of weird but I get this knowing inside that this is the deer (buck or doe) I'm supposed to have and I take the shot.
I still like to get out hunting at every opportunity, but it seems my motivations have somewhat changed.
A funny thing; I dozed off for about 10 minutes in a turkey blind last spring. I had been getting up early for work a few weeks prior and was tired because my body was adjusting to the new schedule. I felt better after that ten minute nap in the turkey blind than I did after 7 hours sleep in my own bed. It is amazing how being someplace you really enjoy (i.e turkey blind or fill in the blank) can be so restful and stress relieving.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Whackdaddy wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Nice article. Made me think of my Dad and miss our time together in the woods. When he was alive, I always made the effort to put him in the best spots, but the deer always seemed to find me. Wish the old man was still around. Enjoy your time together. It goes fast.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Wisdom of the aged! I only wish my old man hunted!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Bless his soul!
Great article Scott!
I have only been on here from time to time, as deer season is sadly winding down here in Kentucky.
When I saw this notice in my e-mail I had to respond.

Your dad's wisdom probably transcends most people that hunt. Before your dad hangs his bow up this season, get your video out and record your father.

Set the camera up where it's out of the way and not so noticeable. Ask your dad questions about his life, hunting, favorite memories, likes, dislikes ... you get the picture.

When I met my father-in-law I was in total awe of this man. His love for people,writing,his family and God. Before I could get my camera video taping him he passed away. I miss his Germanic accent and the way he used to pronouce words.He was the only man I know of that pronounced Jay Leno's name correctly; Jay Leeeno, emphasis on the "e" in Leno.

Life has its hardships and difficulties, and when a man that is in the winter of his life, is loved so much by both family, friends, and has weathered everything ... record his words and image before it's too late.

May God bless and keep you and your loved ones safe this New Year.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from lewdogg21 wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Your Dad is awesome. My grandfather who I grew up hunting with would be in his early 80's had he not passed away 10 years ago. I miss Pop a lot and that picture looks like him.

God Bless.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dave the bowhunter wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

i hope i can still crawl in a tree when iam 80 years old.. memories are every thing, but, them mounts make a difference to, nice to set and look at...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Don Mitchell wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

One hell of a story Scott,I'll be 68 in a few, just hope I make it ti 80. Got a nice buck on the 48/th. day in the blind.
Happy new year to all.
DON

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4CORN wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

i also enjoy watching the animals wake up and entertain me while waiting for deer. also hope i am able to continue hunting til 80 and beyond. scott, what blind is that? it looks great against the snow and trees.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

GOD BLESS the "ol' man" may we ALL have the "gumption" to still be going at that age !

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ray cummings wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Now there is a hunter and a true sportsman!! The thrill of a chicadee singing on a branch close enough to touch or the call of a loon. The scent of Pine or the beauty of new fallen snow. These are the things that bring joy to a sportsman. The sight of a nice buck makes his (or her) heart race. Killing it is secondary - just icing on the cake. I would be proud to know him, to hunt with him, to call him friend. I only hope that my grandson learns the lessons from me that he has taught you, God bless him and allow him another season to enjoy the outdoors.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ray cummings wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

2poppa is SO right!! Everyone please take time to do what he suggested. Someday it will mean a lot to you and your kids to be able to hear and see their grandparent and hear their stories. I gave this advis to many people over the years but never did it myself. I thought I had plenty of time. After all, I`m only 65. Now it is too late. My wife of 46years was only 64 when a massive stroke and heart attack took her from us. Now we cannot leave a tape or video for our kids, grandkids, or great grandkids. Sure they have memories but so much is lost over time. So PLEASE do this now before it is too late to leave this beautiful legacy for your family.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckscouter wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Tomorrow the temps will be hovering around five degrees. I have been toying with the idea of one last deer hunt, but the temp had me questioning my motive. I now know that after I run my trapline and do a little morning work on the firewood I will be enjoying one last deer hunt before the season ends, and I'll thank your dad tomorrow while I'm basking in the winter solitude. There are only so many sunrises, so many sunsets, and so many seasons . . .

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joel Panian wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

My uncle is the one who took me hunting. He was there when I shot my first deer (actually, he was there for all of them!). I've learned more from him then I have from any man. I hate that I havn't been able to go hunting with him the past several years because of school. But there's nothing I look forward to more then going to his house and listening to him tell me about his hunting adventures. And I look forward to the next morning I'll be in the Pennsylvania woods with him.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WTXWildlifer wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Deer hunting to me is all about family and the fun you have together. Its great you are able to hunt with your dad. When a deer is harvested it makes for a good night in camp, sitting around listening to the hunt story over a plate of chicken fried backstrap is our tradition. Hope the season ends well for your dad and that you can cherish those memories forever.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

2poppa said it right. I would give anything to have a tape of my dad and some of the old timers we used to hunt with.
I did not get a buck this year but it was a great year to hunt. Saw many deer including some nice bucks but did not get a shot at the one I wanted. Did take 4 antlerless for meat. Wish it could have been shared with my dad or older brother.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I am not sure what it is but that picture and story just bring a smile to my face He's just plain happy to be out there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I wish my father would enjoy the outdoors more often, I've invited him several times a year only to get him into the woods about once every 2-3 years. I do miss the times we have had.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Hunting with my dad, and now with my son are some of my best memories.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from bigjake wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Great post,I wish I could have one last hunt with my father but a massive heart attack took him from us 5 years ago.In his memory I always hunt with his Parker Hale on the first and last day of every season since.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

my dad was also not so big into the hunting thing so most of what i learned i had to gleen from others or learn on my own. i don't know where i got it from but i love the outdoors and couldn't imagine my life without it except maybe being in prison or dead by now. you have a special dad who gave you more than most kids could wish for. i want to be that dad. especially being able to get out and still enjoy just the hunting part at such an advanced age. your dad will die a happy and fulfilled man. best of luck to him and i hope he shoots a monster! send a pic if he does.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

I have nothing but respect for that gentleman. I have just hit sixty and although I feel pretty darned good, I wonder what hunting will be like when I turn 80.
I have gotten pretty picky about the deer I now shoot. All the planets have to be properly aligned plus I just have to be in the mood to shoot a deer anymore. It's kind of weird but I get this knowing inside that this is the deer (buck or doe) I'm supposed to have and I take the shot.
I still like to get out hunting at every opportunity, but it seems my motivations have somewhat changed.
A funny thing; I dozed off for about 10 minutes in a turkey blind last spring. I had been getting up early for work a few weeks prior and was tired because my body was adjusting to the new schedule. I felt better after that ten minute nap in the turkey blind than I did after 7 hours sleep in my own bed. It is amazing how being someplace you really enjoy (i.e turkey blind or fill in the blank) can be so restful and stress relieving.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Bless his soul!
Great article Scott!
I have only been on here from time to time, as deer season is sadly winding down here in Kentucky.
When I saw this notice in my e-mail I had to respond.

Your dad's wisdom probably transcends most people that hunt. Before your dad hangs his bow up this season, get your video out and record your father.

Set the camera up where it's out of the way and not so noticeable. Ask your dad questions about his life, hunting, favorite memories, likes, dislikes ... you get the picture.

When I met my father-in-law I was in total awe of this man. His love for people,writing,his family and God. Before I could get my camera video taping him he passed away. I miss his Germanic accent and the way he used to pronouce words.He was the only man I know of that pronounced Jay Leno's name correctly; Jay Leeeno, emphasis on the "e" in Leno.

Life has its hardships and difficulties, and when a man that is in the winter of his life, is loved so much by both family, friends, and has weathered everything ... record his words and image before it's too late.

May God bless and keep you and your loved ones safe this New Year.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

2poppa said it right. I would give anything to have a tape of my dad and some of the old timers we used to hunt with.
I did not get a buck this year but it was a great year to hunt. Saw many deer including some nice bucks but did not get a shot at the one I wanted. Did take 4 antlerless for meat. Wish it could have been shared with my dad or older brother.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

You are blessed to have him to hunt with you. My dad was not overly interested in the great outdoors and took very little time for it with me. I, on the other hand, as regulars on this site have probably figured out, am passionate about it and am blessed to have two kids that hunt and fish with me on a regular basis. Cherish each moment with Dad and give thanks.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jjas wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Could it be that your father has just gained some perspective over the years?

I have a few mounts on the wall and when I killed those deer and had them mounted I just knew they would carry special meaning for me forever....

They don't. I rarely even look @ them. The mounts just don't matter to me anymore.

But the memories sure do.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

I too have had "one of those seasons" but i have the entire month of January to change that. Like your Dad, if i don't kill a buck, it won't be the end of the world, as i enjoyed many quality hunts and some not so much but i'm glad for the chance to be out there doin' it. Hope your dads luck changes fast.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ray cummings wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Now there is a hunter and a true sportsman!! The thrill of a chicadee singing on a branch close enough to touch or the call of a loon. The scent of Pine or the beauty of new fallen snow. These are the things that bring joy to a sportsman. The sight of a nice buck makes his (or her) heart race. Killing it is secondary - just icing on the cake. I would be proud to know him, to hunt with him, to call him friend. I only hope that my grandson learns the lessons from me that he has taught you, God bless him and allow him another season to enjoy the outdoors.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ray cummings wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

2poppa is SO right!! Everyone please take time to do what he suggested. Someday it will mean a lot to you and your kids to be able to hear and see their grandparent and hear their stories. I gave this advis to many people over the years but never did it myself. I thought I had plenty of time. After all, I`m only 65. Now it is too late. My wife of 46years was only 64 when a massive stroke and heart attack took her from us. Now we cannot leave a tape or video for our kids, grandkids, or great grandkids. Sure they have memories but so much is lost over time. So PLEASE do this now before it is too late to leave this beautiful legacy for your family.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

you can let him know I feel his pain. having seen only one deer (a nice 8 pointer) this archery season. the deer was headed on a course down our trails to where it would've came within 15 yards of me but I couldn't get my bow off it's hook and he commenced to stare me down then turn around and leave never to return.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from idahooutdoors wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Being out there is what it is all about, and I hope I can still play in the field at age 80........

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mutt wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

it's always good just to get outside. it doesn't matter what you get or if you get. now being a father of two kids under 5 the quiet is worth more than gold.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Tell your Dad that he's my hero. In less that 25 years I'll be at that certain age and be inspired by his determination.
I just hope my boys are there to help out in case I get one to drag out.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Whackdaddy wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Nice article. Made me think of my Dad and miss our time together in the woods. When he was alive, I always made the effort to put him in the best spots, but the deer always seemed to find me. Wish the old man was still around. Enjoy your time together. It goes fast.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Wisdom of the aged! I only wish my old man hunted!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from lewdogg21 wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Your Dad is awesome. My grandfather who I grew up hunting with would be in his early 80's had he not passed away 10 years ago. I miss Pop a lot and that picture looks like him.

God Bless.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dave the bowhunter wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

i hope i can still crawl in a tree when iam 80 years old.. memories are every thing, but, them mounts make a difference to, nice to set and look at...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4CORN wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

i also enjoy watching the animals wake up and entertain me while waiting for deer. also hope i am able to continue hunting til 80 and beyond. scott, what blind is that? it looks great against the snow and trees.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

GOD BLESS the "ol' man" may we ALL have the "gumption" to still be going at that age !

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckscouter wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Tomorrow the temps will be hovering around five degrees. I have been toying with the idea of one last deer hunt, but the temp had me questioning my motive. I now know that after I run my trapline and do a little morning work on the firewood I will be enjoying one last deer hunt before the season ends, and I'll thank your dad tomorrow while I'm basking in the winter solitude. There are only so many sunrises, so many sunsets, and so many seasons . . .

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joel Panian wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

My uncle is the one who took me hunting. He was there when I shot my first deer (actually, he was there for all of them!). I've learned more from him then I have from any man. I hate that I havn't been able to go hunting with him the past several years because of school. But there's nothing I look forward to more then going to his house and listening to him tell me about his hunting adventures. And I look forward to the next morning I'll be in the Pennsylvania woods with him.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WTXWildlifer wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

Deer hunting to me is all about family and the fun you have together. Its great you are able to hunt with your dad. When a deer is harvested it makes for a good night in camp, sitting around listening to the hunt story over a plate of chicken fried backstrap is our tradition. Hope the season ends well for your dad and that you can cherish those memories forever.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

After many years of hunting, punching a tag was a must! But when I transferred to Eielson AFB Alaska and blessed being around the greatest individuals I have ever met and helping those around me, it truly changed my perspective in Hunting and Fishing.

From Clays archives of bookmarks, places, information and things to read,

During my 4-year tour (1986-90) at Eielson Air Force Base Alaska, I've been asked how many bears have I taken. I had hundreds of chances. I had my crosshairs on many with a round in the chamber of my 338 Win Mag with Nosler 250 grain partitions loaded at 2800 fps and a harvest ticket in my backpack. An easy one shot clean kill everyone. I never pulled the trigger though.

Why you ask?

The beauty and respect of one a Hunter to the other (the bear) perhaps? Most of all the cost of having it mounted I couldn't afford and I knew in the back of my mind that if I did pull the trigger, the hunt was over. I wasn't ready for the hunt to end, never. I wanted more days to hunt, just to be out there. Even if I came home empty handed, it didn't matter. The awesome power, to watch a Grizzly role rocks the size of my ATV like a basketball, hunting for rodents. I never have taken a bear until I moved back to Arkansas.

Most of all, being alone on a mountain ridge, setting on a giant rock overlooking the endless landscape where perhaps no man ever walked.

To watch a snow flurry on a far mountain ridge and feel the Lord setting next to me enjoying what God has made.

I may have come home empty handed,
but my mind is full of awesome memories
it is a experience, I'll never forget!

But the most memorable days ever was with my Father

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

For those of you fortunate to still hunt with your Father, savor it like a fine wine. As time passes on, the better it gets a and then it’s gone

I have a Ameristep Dog House blind and I've shot more deer out of it than all the stands I've used!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Don Mitchell wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

One hell of a story Scott,I'll be 68 in a few, just hope I make it ti 80. Got a nice buck on the 48/th. day in the blind.
Happy new year to all.
DON

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I am not sure what it is but that picture and story just bring a smile to my face He's just plain happy to be out there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I wish my father would enjoy the outdoors more often, I've invited him several times a year only to get him into the woods about once every 2-3 years. I do miss the times we have had.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Hunting with my dad, and now with my son are some of my best memories.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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