I still call her my baby even though she’s half way to sixteen. Man, where did those eight years go? Well allright, enough sulking over the fact my sweet pea is growing up too fast and on with the story.
Raylee is your typical, energetic, outgoing, country to the bone, little farm girl. She has always liked going to the camp, hunting with Dad and has been doing just that since she was two years old. She’s a crack shot with a .22 and got her very own for Christmas this year. We’ve also had a Remington 700 Youth 243 with her name on it, just waiting for her to grow into it.
Raylee was determined, going into this past season, that she was going to kill a deer. So my part was to do everything I could to make that happen. We spent the off season keeping feeders full, planting food plots and making sure all the stands were ready to go. But being the somewhat over protective Dad I am, the closer season got the more nervous I got. Reason being was that I started thinking about that 243 kicking or as she says “bucking” a little too much and the scope hitting her in the face. I’ve been told by my better half that I have a tendency to worry too much, plan too much and way over analyze things and that’s just what I started doing…thinking. I thought maybe it would be better if I put her in a pop up blind closer to the feeders with an open sight 30-30. That way there would be no scope to hit her in the face and we would be close enough she would surely be able to hit something. As season quickly approached, I was still fretting and analyzing my final game plan that would insure my daughter could seal the deal on her first deer. Needless to say all my worrying and planning would not make a bit of difference in Raylee killing her first deer.
My family and I spent most of the summer getting ready and getting excited for hunting season to open. It was finally here, Opening Day of the 2009 Gun Season. But instead of having my baby girl in the stand with me and my wife Bridgette out there with our 4 year old son Morgan, I was sitting there in the stand alone. All because I was selfish enough to think I deserved opening day all to myself. Well things could not have happened any better that evening to teach me two valuable lessons.
Since no one was invited to hunt with me opening day my wife decided she would just take Raylee herself on some land adjacent to our house. There was very little thought that went into their hunt. There was no worry about the gun kicking or the wind direction or anything else I would have been intent on thinking about. They didn’t go to the food plots or the feeders and they weren’t even in a blind. They just went hunting together. They walked from our house down our long driveway with Raylee singing and skipping all the way. They sat on the ground just off our drive way on a pipeline. Raylee was on the ground right beside Bridgette so she could help hold the shooting stick for her. Those two were visiting and laughing and sending me texts and pictures. They weren’t there very long when Raylee spotted a small buck that was way too far away to shoot. Raylee was thrilled that she had spotted this buck “all by herself.” Not 30 minutes later, wouldn’t you know it, at about 5:00 I got a call from one of the most excited and proud, parents you’ll ever hear telling me that our daughter had just shot her first deer. So I got off my stand at the lease and almost cut a 30 minute drive in half getting home to see. Raylee was still so happy and excited she couldn’t stop crying and was talking ninety to nothing trying to tell me the story. Once she calmed down they showed me where they were sitting and 110 yards down the pipeline, there it was my baby girl’s first deer.
What an awesome experience, that I didn’t get to share with my little girl, for two reasons. First and foremost I was selfish. I wanted to be in my own little part of the world by myself. Second, if I had been there I would have probably over analyzed and over thought things. I would not have been on that pipeline at that appointed time because that was just too simple.
So guys, the first lesson learned, is that life is too short and your kids grow up way too fast. You should strive to be involved in their lives and to be a part of all those precious moments. Second lesson is that God’s will and perfect plan is always better than even our very best.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11