I've posted this in a couple forums just so everyone can share what hunting has done for them. This is going to be a rough rifle season for myself as well as the two others I hunt with. My brother and my Dad's best friend. My Dad past away last year right after hunting season and right before Christmas. We hunt State Forest land in 2G. It's about a 1 1/2 hour drive from where we live. We get up early in the morning, drive up and hunt all day and drive back at night. We've been doing this since I was old enough to hunt. I'm now 31. At first I was like any other kid. I thought the drive sucked and would sleep the whole way up and back. As the years went on, I realized that the drive was part of the bonding experience. No radio, just the conversation of what we hoped would happen or what did happen that day. We all have our certain spots once we get there. Sometimes we would meet back at the truck for lunch and a coffee and sometimes we would just check in with each other on the radio and meet back at the end of the day. If one of us got cold and needed to walk around we would know where the others were and would maybe try jumping something to one another. My dads spot was on an incline over looking the flat part of a nice ravine. It was a beautiful spot where many deer have been shot (and missed). My dad usually worked nights so he would go hunting on no or very little sleep. Once in awhile I would catch him dosing off by his tree or just walk down to be with him. Last year is one I'll never forget. My brother and my dads best friend went hunting on the first Thursday. My dad and I both worked and wouldn't be able to go until Saturday. Well my brother shot a nice buck. The only problem is they couldn't find it. It was raining and they lost the blood trail. They searched for nearly 5 hours. Well we thought maybe he made a bad shot and never killed the deer. So we all went back up on Saturday. I didn't get off work until 8a.m. so I was just going to meet them up there. I was going to stay for a few hours and go home because I had to work later that night. Instead of going to my normal spot, I decided to walk along the bottom (as we call it) to see if I would push anything to my brother. I felt bad for him. I got to him and he saw nothing. So I continued walking "the bottom" cause it would lead me to my dad. Throughout the years I did this a few times. When I got to where my dad was, I was about 150 yards from him looking up. He tipped his cap to me as usual so I knew he saw me. I walked up and sat with him. After the walk I was hungry so I got out a sandwich. Just as I started eating my dad said "Here they come." Along the base of the ravine a doe was slowly walking. Behind her, was the big boy. Now I was in my dads spot, but if you knew my dad you knew that I was going to be the one shooting. He never put himself first. So when the opportunity came, I shot. And I missed. The deer ran off and we never got another shot. The bad thing was the buck was the biggest we'd ever seen on the mountain. I was mortified. No blood, no hair, nothing. I shot right over him and knew it. We searched for a few hours with no sign. I decided to go home and cry myself to sleep. I walked out just about the same way I came in. When I got a little past where my brother sits, I found blood. I followed the lite blood trail for a few hundred yards and found a dead 8 point buck. It was the deer my brother shot on Thursday. The deer must have layed by the stream for sometime as they walked right around it. The shot was low and it wasn't an immediate death. The deer then walked a few hunderd yards from the stream and died. The meat was no good, except for the coyotees, but we got the rack. I went from total sickness to total joy for my brother. His first nice buck. I was still saddened because I know if I had been sitting where I normally did my dad would have shot that monster. He was as sure a shot as they come. On the last Saturday I kicked a deer out to my dad at 3p.m. He wasn't going to shoot it because it wasn't that big but he knew we wanted the meat. He shot it at 75 yards. It was a button buck. He was furious with himself for shooting it. But there was no way for him to see. He ranted and raved for awhile but then we skinned him out and I drug him to the truck. This was the last time I would be in the woods with my dad. I went up earlier this year to scout. I walked along "the bottom" as I did that first Saturday. I walked out to where I was looking up at my dads tree. I wanted to see orange at that tree. But of course I didn't. There was no one there to tip his cap. I'll always remember the way he walked down the trail when I was already at the truck. The way the ice would freeze on his beard and mustache. The way he ate his sandwich while telling stories. Hunting has given me alot of things. Good and bad moments. Moments you wish you could change and moments you want to last forever. Hunting for me isn't about the size of the deer or the racks. It's about being with people you care about and making memories. It'll be hard, but we'll go out this year and make more memories. Hunting makes me smile.