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On The Trail
Of a Dear
by Maricia Mlynek

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With hunting season right around the corner, I felt it might be a good idea to study it a little closer. Though I am not a hunter myself, I am comfortable with a firearm. From the time I was a little girl, I have been acquainted with handling and shooting a rifle. My mother taught me not only how to shoot, but how to respect and care for a gun properly.

She was a true marksman. She out-shot and out-fired every man in our hometown. Though I am not as talented as she, I feel at ease with the old .22 on my shoulder, and gunfire doesn’t bother or spook me. This is good, since the first step in looking closer at hunting is looking closer at the hunter and his weapon of choice.

I live with an avid hunter. He is, however, not the typical run of the mill gun season enthusiast. No, this man is an outdoorsman through and through. He is a passionate guru of the wilderness. Hunting isn’t just a sport to him, it’s an adventure.

Some hunters have their trusty tree stand and favorite spot in the woods. Some have cabins, and some even pack up for the week to hunt all day, every day for the entire season. My hunter has his own methods and his own style. He is the Lewis Wetzel, the Daniel Boone, and the Davey Crocket of hunters. It’s more than deer and hunter with him. It’s predator and prey. The hunt is his passion.

Andy's deer tracks.

There are no deer stands, no four-wheeler rides to a nice cozy spot, no all-day sitting on a heated cushion for this man. Thus, I have asked to be a part of his adventure. I have pleaded to be allowed to tag along on his journey, and he has, hesitantly, agreed. That is not to say that he is difficult or a poor teacher, but it does show that this series could be interesting.

I have explained in the past that my hunter dear is a retired infantryman. He is used to rucksacks that outweigh me strapped to his back. He is accustomed to miles to go with nothing but boots and a prayer to get there. He has gone weeks without a shower or a warm meal.

There is a natural curve in his shoulder where his A-4 was slung always at the ready. Iraq and back, he is ranger trained and blue cord decorated. A foot soldier, a hunter, and my husband he is. In what order? That is a question you will have to ask him.

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way,” that is a saying he has been trained to live. I confess that this series could be challenging to me. I believe the saying, “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me, and be my friend,” suits me better. I can only hope that he will also practice the Army motto--“No man left behind.” In this case, “no wife left behind.” dear tracks.

In all seriousness, he is wonderful. I am blessed to be on the trail of my dear while he is on the trail of a deer. I look forward to all he will teach me.

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