Every fall, I have the same warm and wonderful memory of my first year of bow hunting with my dad. My dad put me in his usual tree stand, a pine tree at the edge of a field. He said he was certain I would see deer in this spot.

The first thing I realized is I’m terrified of heights, but I stayed up in the tree, knowing my dad wouldn’t put me in a spot that wasn’t safe and the best chance to see deer. My determination to push past my fears was rewarded soon. I had deer coming out regularly. I had six arrows. I had let my first one fly. I missed. Then I let my second, third, fourth, and fifth arrows fly as well. Missed every time. Who knew how much a pine tree moved in the wind, or how different it was shooting down, instead of straight across?

Well, I was learning with every arrow. Crazy enough, the deer kept coming back in, I was given one more chance, so I pulled back, waiting for the swaying to line up, held my breath, and let it fly. Finally, I got one!

What I remember most is my dad’s face lighting up with pride when he saw the trail of the one I did hit. Oh, he laughed that I used every arrow and thankfully only hit the one. I actually ended up making a great shot on that one, and it helped feed our family. Seeing my dad smile at me as he did with such pride, mixed with humor, is my most cherished memory with my dad. It’s moments like that, that I learned even embarrassing stories can hold the most loving memories. My dad took the time to teach me how to hunt, track, clean, and process a deer. It was my dad who first taught me to appreciate, honor, and care for nature. As it can help care for us, in many ways. I tend to think of my dad more often when I’m outside, as my love for nature started with him.

By Gari Nowland, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member