THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE NORTH
When my dad finished his 2nd tour of duty in the Marine Corp., he went into business with my grandpa in his Auto shop/filling station on the corner of Sweet and Diamond in Grand Rapids.
Sometime during this partnership they won a 30-06 rifle in a promotion. This was the gun my dad used for hunting from that point on. He hand-checkered the stock with tools that have since passed to my brother Carl, along with the rest of his hunting gear. Dad and grandpa seemed to have similar dispositions and past-times. Dad said he didn’t come from a very demonstrative family. He knew he was loved because he and grandpa did things together. They cut wood. They fished. They hunted. During family get-togethers at grandpa and grandma’s house they sat across from each other in the living room barely saying a word, but my dad knew. He could see it in my grandpa’s eyes. They didn’t vocally say ‘I love you,’ or hug. When I came home from Summer Camp staff as a 17 year old I was a hugger. I said ‘I love you’. My dad would just nod; and it took a couple years for him to hug back. That changed after a while but at the time I didn’t care. I knew.
One hunting season not long after he returned from service Dad was up at the cabin. This was in a time when deer were plentiful and bucks hung from tree branch and poles. Between grandpa’s cabin and Uncle Herb’s the deer hung like rows of corn after the first week of the season. One day Dad, Uncle Bill Masters, and Grandpa were heading back out into the woods after lunch. As they drove down the county road they saw old man Bullock and his boys firing their rifles across Mr. Pike’s field toward my grandpa’s woods.
My dad pulled over and asked them what they were shooting at. Mr. Bullock, standing a little ways off the road told my dad that there was a big buck standing at the tree-line of my grandpa’s woods just below the big hill. The distance to the deer from the road was probably about the length of three football fields. Mr. Bullock’s sons were laying atop a rise about a third of the way through the field firing round after round. The buck just stood there looking. Grandpa said “ Nobody’s even coming close Kenny; he’s not even flinching. My dad got out his 30-06 and rested it on a fence post along the road. Sighting in with his scope he could see that it was a big buck. The rack was spread wide but he couldn’t tell how many tines it had from that distance. The deer could hear the shots but was apparently unconcerned. It was just noise. He continued to browse and occasionally lift his head to the rifle shots. Mr. Bullock said: “ C’mon Kenny, at least go up by the boys. You’ll never hit him from back there.” “Nope, I’m good.” Said my dad. He loaded a clip into his gun and chambered a round. The Bullock boys kept plinking away, and the deer just stood there.
When my dad settled himself and looked through the scope, my Uncle Bill said that he and my grandpa just held their breath. KRACK! My dad quickly worked the bolt and chambered another round. He missed, but he was close enough that the buck bolted along the tree-line. Dad never looked up. Sighting again, he led the deer and KRACK! The buck went down with grasses and dirt flying as the rack plowed into the ground. Dad dropped him on the run! The Bullock boys just stared back from the rise while Mr. Bullock whooped and hollered, laughing and running up to my dad. ‘Kenny, that was the most amazing shot I’ve ever seen! You did it! You really did it!” Uncle Bill was dumbstruck. “I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.” Grandpa just beamed. Nobody went out into the woods that afternoon. This is the story as I heard it from my dad and my Uncle Bill. There was probably a bit of luck in the shot, but my dad spent his time in the Marine corp. as a Drill Instructor and Range Instructor. I’m guessing that played a part.