Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let the Hunt Begin

Be still, my beating heart. I just watched my two bigs walk down the road with their handsome daddy and their coonhound pup, Shaky. Sporting mud boots, they skipped down the road shouting about the moon and the stars and the spaceship that Calvin "sighted," blue and green glow-stick/flashlight bouncing around excitedly.

This is so poignant for so many reasons. My boys have an amazing Daddy. They're old enough to be hunting. We live out in this gorgeous place where they can just walk out the door and into the woods. But most of all, my husband is finally realizing a dream.

Ryan has been an avid coonhunter since his own grandpa took him at age five. He always pictured taking his own kids out to the woods like Grandpa Calvin did for him so many times. But, since having kids, he's slowly backed away from a hobby that used to consume him - and take him out on average five nights a week. I can't remember the last time he hunted. We used to have anywhere from five to 15 hounds. Until recently, we had one.

When an old hunting buddy called him, wanting to make good on money he owed Ryan from a way-back deal by giving him a pup, Ryan agreed and decided that this pup would be the boys'. I'll admit, I have mixed emotions about the dog. She's beautiful and the boys love her. But part of her "training" is letting her run loose until she's past the pup stage so Shaky has free reign of our yard.  She's super-affectionate, which is sweet if you're a loving boy. Not so sweet if you're a baby just learning to walk outside in shoes. Or a mom running late for work and wearing white pants. Or enjoying some "me" time by soaking up some rays in the backyard. She likes to get into the van with the boys. And into the old hardware-store bins that are a catch-all on our front porch. And the kitty food bowl, which we hide on top of the grill, but she still noses down. And the neighbor's field, where she found a dead skunk carcass to deliver to our porch. But her most annoying habit is stealing stuff we leave lying around. She runs off with toys, sippy cups, scrap buckets, ball gloves, garden tools, socks, and, especially, shoes. She will wait for the boys to get on the trampoline and then come over and sniff out shoes. No matter how high they hang them in the nearby plum tree, she finds a way to nudge them down. She even removed Max's shoe while he giggled in his stroller. She immediately runs with her finds, usually to chew on them a short distance away. She eventually stashes them back by our other dog houses. I can't count the number of times we've chased her town (or Calvin has sneak-attacked her) or had to raid her hoard for a missing shoe. But she's almost grown now which means it'll soon be time to tie her up AND it's time for her to start hitting the woods.

Ryan hunted the camera down 10 minutes before it was time to leave. This is significant for two reasons: 1) Ryan doesn't do anything until it has to be done, and 2) Ryan doesn't take pictures. But he wanted a picture of him, his boys, and their dog. I think he thought this might be the picture we look back on years from now as the night that "started it all." I hope he's right...

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