The Hunt in Mid October
Michigan has a special day that allows disabled hunters to return to their favorite hobby for at least one day a year. My dad has been a lifelong hunter, but his recent heart issues and dementia has made traditional hunting impossible. My brother Sam made arrangements for a hunt so I decided to make a trip back to Upper Michigan.
I arrived Friday morning after a work trip and had to make a few calls before I checked in with Dad. I swung by my favorite sandwich shop and ate it by Lake Superior just before my call. I took a quick drive around Presque Isle, a scenic park, before my next call. I wrapped things up and checked on Dad.
Although Dad has dementia, he still recognized me and was happy to see me. We chatted, often about the same thing we did fifteen minutes ago, due to his lack of short term memory. I also met his new nursing home roommate, Jim. He has different issues and was really helpful in taking care of my dad when it came to routine things I didn't know. We ended the night in the activities room painting pumpkins with the other residents.
I was sleeping at my other brother's, who was going out on his own hunting trip in the morning. My son had arrived late to join us for the visit. My son and I had breakfast and spent some time visiting my home town. We checked in on Dad who seemed kinda tired, so we let him rest.
We agreed to meet at my parents old house where my brother lives now. I picked up supplies and and made a batch of Red Stew (see this post) for a warm meal after hunting. The boy and I played a few games of Cribbage waiting on Sam to arrive with Dad.
We headed out about 3pm. Dad was so excited. He was also excited to have everyone there. Our blind ended up being a friend’s garage with a back door we could open when we saw a deer on the laptop video hooked into a backyard camera. This was high-tech hunting. Personally I was pretty miserable — cold and bored. But Dad seemed happy to be sitting watching the laptop waiting for a deer so I was happy to be there for him, chatting periodically.
Allen had a rough night of coughing at Dale’s, due to pet allergies. I should have just stayed at a hotel as planned. I headed out early and went to a coffee shop to work on my computer for a bit. I brought some bagels back and Dad and Sam enjoyed them. Dad was pretty wiped out and went back to bed. Allen didn't get up till noon himself. He said goodbye to Dad and we headed to town for lunch before he drove home since he had work in the morning. Dad was finally up and about around 2pm. His lunch was cake and we got in a game of cribbage.
We made it back out to "camp" again. Same setup as yesterday but we did see some deer today. Unfortunately it was after sunset and we could just hear them crunching around in the leaves but it was too dark to see anything. I saw some shadows down by the bait pile and then they turned and saw the name sake white tails walking away back into the woods. We packed up with out actually firing the gun at all. Still, the end was pretty exciting for only the possibility of shooting a deer was real. Sam took Dad back to the nursing home and I headed out for a warm meal in yet another restaurant I remembered from my youth.
Short day, I had breakfast with my brother, swung by and said goodbye to Dad and caught a sunrise before I flew home.
These trips are bittersweet. Will this be Dad’s last hunt? Will this be my last time seeing him before I get back “home”? For now - I’m glad I made the journey.