W arm pine trees scented the air. I tried to be absolutely still, even though an angry squirrel chattered forty yards away, scolding me for being in his woods.
I employed my Husband Senses and ignored the scolding. Soon it faded into the background and I was able to concentrate. It also works in the living room…
My attention returned to the event at hand. I was lucky enough to have a good brace, so I laid the rifle across the steady surface and snugged the stock against my shoulder.
“Are you ever going to shoot?”
“Shhhhh. I didn’t turn my head back toward Woodrow.
I blinked and reacquired the target an estimated hundred yards away. It took a second to find my point of aim. The crosshairs sharpened, and then blurred slightly as I centered on the target’s chest.
Still not happy where I was, I thought about moving. Woodrow sensed it. “You’re fine.”
I rooted around with my feet to create a more stable base to shoot.
There was the chest, the neck, the head. The neck shot was risky. I lowered the crosshairs.
I sensed movement and knew I had to shoot soon.
Woodrow’s whisper jolted me, almost making me pull the trigger before I was ready.
“Deer don’t stand still for long.”
“They sure don’t if people are having cocktail conversations loud enough for them to hear.”
“They hear pretty well.”
“You’re whispering loud enough for the folks back home to tell you to be quiet.”
“You’re getting louder.”
“I’m getting frustrated.”
“People are coming from behind us.”
I thought about laying my head down and forgetting the whole thing, but the feel of the stock against my cheek brought me back. “Shhhhh!!!!”
Back to the scope. The figure seemed farther away. I blinked to clear my vision and tried again. My rest was steady. I flicked off the safety on the .270, took breath, let out half of it, and tightened my finger against the trigger.
A stick cracked behind me.
Back to the scope. I realized I’d been holding that breath, so I let it out to breathe for a second. Deep breath, let half out.
The report surprised me, as it should.
Back to the scope. There was nothing out there but woods. The squirrel figured I was shooting at him and scurried away.
“I can’t believe you hit him.”
I clicked the safety on and stood. “You don’t have to whisper anymore.”
I handed Woodrow’s rifle back. “This thing still shoots straight for its age.”
“You hit it.”
“I was supposed to. The scope’s dead on. When was the last time I sighted it in?”
“Somewhere around 1990.”
“You don’t hunt much, do you?”
“Not like the rest of you guys. Let’s go see.”
We walked downhill toward where the target disappeared. The squirrel reappeared and followed, angrier than before. Pine needles softened our steps. Despite that, what sounded like a herd thundered toward us from behind.
Woodrow turned. “Here they come.”
“It’s all right. We’re finished. He’s down.”
He was laying on the opposite side of a downed log. Woodrow stopped, stunned. “You actually hit him. Right in the chest.”
“That’s where I was aiming.”
“But he’s so little.”
“All the better. Now you know your scope really is dead on.”
Woodrow’s grandkids gathered around us and looked downward. “Where’s the hole?” the youngest asked.
He pointed right there.
They quieted, studying on the scene.
The oldest finally spoke up. “Can we have him back now?”
He picked it up. “Come on!”
They charged back up to the house and the sand pile, a hundred and fifty yards away.
Woodrow watched them run. “You know, that new hole is right beside the other.”
“It’s hard to believe the kids found him at all.”
“He was buried in the sandbox all these years.”
I thought about the small, yellow plastic cowboy we’d used to sight the rifle in twenty-five years ago. I recognized him immediately when one of the grandkids asked why there was a hole in it.
Woodrow and I were both surprised at a number of things when the three-inch figure popped back up; the passage of the years, losing and then finding the toy, the way the plastic opened and closed around the first solid core bullet without falling apart, the way the second round only chipped off part of the toy, and the fact that I could still see well enough to shoot after so many years.
It’s the little things that make life enjoyable.
We refilled our coffee cups and sat at the picnic table to watch the kids play in the sand while we pondered life.
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]