This time around I am writing about a hunt that I went on in honor of a little boy named Brady. Brady is a 4 year old boy that lost his battle with cancer a little bit ago. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I was apart of it.
As I read Chico's blog and started to understand the story of Brady it really started to get to me. My wife and I have two sons around Brady's age so it hit me like a ton of bricks when I learned of the story. Because it reinforced the fact that nobody is immune to cancer. So every time I read something about Brady I knew I had to do something to honor this young man. So with seeing my Up North Journal teammates putting Brady's name on their arrows I tried to figure out what I could do now to honor Brady. Well as people close to me know lI am a huge small game hunter and I love getting new hunters especially kids started into hunting and the outdoors. Well squirrel hunting is usually the first hunting season everybody starts out with. So with this on my mind and kicking around the idea of putting Brady's name on something that I use in the field and seeing as Chico always names his arrows and shells. Then listening to the last Up North Journal podcast episode 179 when Chico was talking about putting Brady's name on your outdoor equipment, it was the final piece that made it a great idea. So this was the plan, Brady was going hunting with me on my next outdoor adventure.
I treated this hunt just like I treat every hunt when I take a youth or a new hunter out for the first time. The only difference was I was going to be pulling the trigger. I was going to use the gun I shot my first squirrel with and head out to one of my favorite local public hunting areas.
So here it is the second Sunday of the season and today is the day Brady and I were going to go hunting. My oldest son seen me getting ready to go and he knew I was going hunting. He wanted to go so bad but I told him that this time it was going to be just me going and he would go next time. Well after a little crying he was good with that. Trying to explain to a 3 year old about Brady was pointless all he understood is daddy was doing something special and will take him hunting next time. So I got to my hunting spot and sat in my car for a bit staring at the shotgun shell going over what this hunt means to me and what I wanted to get out of the hunt. So I grabbed a marker and Brady went on to the shell and him and I were off to the woods.
As the morning drew on and grew closer to the afternoon I was starting to get discouraged as the fact I haven't see one squirrel. As I sat on a stump to take a break I remembered that I had my squirrel whistle with me. Now when I hunt with other people I get a lot of teasing and looks when I use it because it looks odd for a game call but I have had good success with it. The call mimics the distress call of a squirrel and it will get other squirrels all worked up so they start barking and will help you locate them. Well I figured what the heck let's try it. As I was blowing away on the call I heard some rustling coming down the trail. Turns out it was a lady and her dog walking the trails. Well I decided that I was going to move a way from this area because even if I seen a squirrel I didn't want to scare this lady with a gun shot. So I headed down a trail that I hadn't been down before and it more looked like a deer run then a trail but I seen a bunch of old foot prints so I figured it was a regular trail. As I was walking along the trail I heard a bark from a squirrel so I knew it was game time. So as I scanned the tree tops for the source of the barks I was just hoping that it was not a woodpecker because a chirp from a woodpecker can sometime sound similar to a squirrel bark. Well i found the source of the noise and it was a red squirrel perched up on a branch about hundred yards ahead of me. Squirrels have great eye sight and hearing, many say better then a whitetail deer. It is also said that if you can sneak up on a squirrel and harvest one you should have no problem stalking a deer. Well I don't know if that is true because I have harvested a lot more squirrels then deer but that is another story. So with every step I took I made sure it was placed in a way that there was no noise. It probably looked pretty funny but it was working because I was closing in on the unsuspecting squirrel. As I got closer I started to hide behind trees and stick to the shadows. I even picked up a handful of acorns just in case I had to create a distraction for the squirrel. So as I got to within about ten yards of the tree that the squirrel was in. I then started to go through the shot in my head because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss because this was Brady's squirrel not mine. So I pulled the hammer back on my trusty 20 gauge and took a deep breath to steady my nerves and I put the bead of the barrel up to just under the head and in one motion I squeezed the trigger and BOOM. The squirrel fell to the ground. I took a quick scan of the tree to get a reference of the tree so I knew were to start the tracking. As I walked up to the tree I started to scan the ground and found the squirrel laying only feet away from the base of the tree. As I picked up the game to admire what God had created I took a moment to stop and take in what had just transpired. I unloaded the spent shell and stood there with the squirrel in one hand and Brady's shell in the other and just enjoyed the peace of the outdoors. After a couple of moments I did the sign of the cross and said a couple of prayers. First to thank God for the gift of the squirrel and then I said a prayer for Brady and his family and make sure that there was peace with both of them and someday they will be reunited.
So after saying my prayers and getting the squirrel into the game bag I grabbed my gun and walked along the trails back to the car. I didn't load another shell into my gun that day because this hunt was for Brady and not for me so I just walked the trails and enjoyed the fresh air and the serenity of the outdoors. As I got back to my car and was putting my gun and vest into the trunk I looked back to the woods and just had a huge smile on my face hoping that Brady was happy with the harvest. So after a quick drive home I went to the garage and set all of my stuff down and went inside and hugged the family and showed the boys Brady's squirrel. After I processed the squirrel and a quick clean up I took a piece of the tail and I will be using the fur to tie some flies so Brady and I can go fly fishing together real soon.
Thank You for taking the time to read this and always remember to never take anything or anybody for granted because you never know when it will be taken away. Enjoy the Great Outdoors and be safe out there.
Brady you made this hunt one of the best. Thank You again little buddy.