Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

It's been a ghost town here at Holland Happenings! We are fully in the swing of the 2013-2014 school year and we are staying busy! We are already 13 weeks into our school year! It's flying this year. Everyone is doing well with their school and so far attitudes have been great too! Jonathan has finished a full phonics program and has now moved on to emerging readers and I'm so happy with his progress. He has struggled a great deal with learning how to read which is completely unlike my first two boys. Jonathan and I both have had a learning curve with this reading thing!  
She can make me crazier than all three boys put together  - and yet she can have me laughing and crying tears of joy within 10 seconds. This girls is a truly a bundle of joy. She can hold her own with the boys and can play soldier games like none other - but she is as girly as they come and tenderhearted to boot. She is quick to challenge me when she doesn't what to do what I ask, but is just as quick to say how sorry she is for how she acted. I'm so blessed that she is mine.

This is a normal day at my house, folks.

I'm so thankful. 

This is just a bonus picture...because she's just so darn cute.

We've had a busy couple of months. School is intense this year in the amount of time required of me. It's good, though. It's so very good. I do have days that I wish that I did not have to teach - and we have plenty of days when attitudes are not the best. I struggle with my own attitude on days like that and I have urges to chase the school bus down, so that someone else can assign them their dreaded work. All that said - when my attitude is as it should be - I am always so grateful that my children are at home with me.  They are the blessings ... I am the blessed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Martin's first deer

(Written by Rich)
Martin has gone with me on several deer hunting trips over the past three seasons. This year, for  his 11th birthday, I got him a Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic Youth model in 7mm-08. I put a Redfield scope on it, and we made several trips to the range over the summer.

Martin is a very good shot. He is patient, takes his time, and only pulls the trigger when the sights are on target (exactly on target). Our last trip to the range was this past Tuesday, and his final three-shot group of the night at 100 yards could be covered with a nickel.

Rifle season opened today, and since I wasn't sure of the weather (the forecast had changed several times over the past 48 hours, but it looked like it might rain), I picked a box stand we have in the woods on one of the properties we hunt. The stand sits along what used to be a logging road, but is no longer used for vehicle traffic. The area is covered with tall grass, and sits just about 40 yards from a creek where the deer are known to bed and travel. The deer often pass by the stand as they are coming and going from their home base to other parts of the property.

Sunrise was at 7:16, which meant legal shooting hours started at 6:46. We got up early, ate breakfast in the truck during the 40 minute ride to the property. Once we got there, we parked about a half mile from the stand and walked in. By the time we were settled in the stand, it was 6:00.

About 6:30 it started getting light enough to see, so I was busy looking around for deer. Last year I caught a buck at about that same time coming up out of the creek, so I expected to see deer moving before it was legal to shoot. All of a sudden, I hear very heavy breathing coming from about 2 feet away. I looked over, and Martin was leaning back against the wall of the stand, head tilted back and mouth wide open - sound asleep. I poked my finger into his chest (which startled him a bit), and said, "What are you doing?" 
"I'm very tired," he said. 
I said, "Do you want to go home and sleep?" 

By 7:15 I was starting to think that we wouldn't see anything this morning, and that we were likely in for a long day. But just as soon as I had that thought, I heard a rifle shot from the neighbor's property. That told me that the deer were on their feet moving around.

At about 7:30 I was staring intently down the lane where I expected the deer to come out. I happened to glance over to a different spot, and there were two deer there! It is a narrow lane only about 60 yards long, with woods all around it. The stand was the only thing in between the deer and the creek bed where they were surely headed. I didn't know it, but earlier in the week, one of the other guys put a bunch of corn out in that spot, and the two young bucks had stopped for a quick snack.

I said to Martin, "There are some deer right there." The once dreary-eyed, barely awake boy jumped to life. "Where?!?" He could barely contain himself.

He stood up and got the rifle ready. We had spent enough time at the range, and talking about it, that I didn't need to worry about the gun. I knew that he knew what to do. So, I was able to concentrate on the deer.

He was so excited that he literally could not stand still and could not hold the rifle still. I made him slow down and calm down. I kept making him take deep breaths to relax. He was so excited, and at one point he said, "Daddy, can you please help me stand still?"

The coolest part about it before he took the shot was that the two bucks started sparring with one another. One pawed at the ground ... the other approached with his head down. They locked antlers and pushed each other around just a bit. This was obviously just "practice," but it was really neat to watch.

Martin managed to calm down enough to be looking through the scope and talking about which one he was going to shoot. Several minutes went by, and I kept saying, "Whenever you are ready and comfortable with the shot, go ahead and take it." I said it several times.

As the deer turned, moved, and shifted position, Martin knew that he had to wait for a good broadside shot. One of them moved close to the woods and was not really in a good spot any more, so that narrowed things down real quick. Martin took aim at the remaining buck and was getting ready. The safety clicked off, and the buck began to walk toward the woods. I thought we were going to miss our chance. I said, "Martin, it has to be now."

I let out a short, sharp bleat, trying to get the buck to stop ... and it worked. He picked his head right up, looked our way, and stood perfectly still.

I said, "Right now, Martin."


The buck arched his back, jumped straight up, kicked his legs out behind him, and disappeared into the woods.

Martin looked at me with the widest eyes I have ever seen! He could barely contain himself, and if I hadn't stopped him, he would have jumped down from the stand and ran over to that spot right then.

I was a little concerned, because I couldn't tell where the deer was hit. By his reaction, I suspected it was good, but because I wasn't sure, we sat still and quiet for several minutes. It was dead quiet, and after not too long, I couldn't contain myself, so we climbed down.

We crept quietly the 60 yards or so until we got to the spot where he was standing when Martin took the shot. I was really nervous, because I didn't see any blood at all. But I did see a very clear path into the woods that the buck surely ran down. If the buck was just wounded, I didn't want to go after him too soon and end up losing him. I told Martin to stand still, and I headed down the path just to see what I could see.

I didn't take three steps before I saw him laying there! He didn't make it 25 yards, and by then, I could see a good blood trail that we could have followed, if it had been necessary.

I was so relieved! I said, "Martin, there he is!" And the celebration began. There were hugs, shouts, and high-fives aplenty; and I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two.

It turns out that Martin had made a perfect shot ... right in the lower 1/3 of the chest, just behind the front leg. (You can barely see it in the picture, below.)

We had planned on hunting all day, but since the primary objective had been accomplished, we stopped at a local diner for breakfast and headed home.

Later on, Martin was talking about the experience with his two younger brothers. At one point, Aaron said, "Martin, you look taller."

I think he is.