Deer hunting and doll shopping
By: By Darrell Pendergrass, Superior Telegram
Over the holidays I had hopes of possibly getting out for some late season archery hunting. I really did.
During the Wisconsin rifle season I sat with my son and watched the world pass by from a woodsy vantage point behind the field near our home. Our gray days were filled with long cold hours in the blind. We saw chattering bushy squirrels and quiet, stoic blue jays, but we did not see any deer. Together Jack and I put in a good effort, but November slid right on across the calendar with nothing hanging from the buck pole.
But I kept thinking that I could change that. I thought I could make a last ditch effort before the hunting season was completely over to bag a buck; to put venison in the freezer. I can do this. We’ll see what happens.
Depending on the weather, my plan was to put up a stand on the other side of the lake across from the house. It’s mostly mature maples over there, and in the quiet mornings while waiting with the kids for the school bus to come rumbling along, I’d witnessed a good amount of deer traffic crossing the gravel road in that direction. Maybe, just maybe, I could still get something to come in close. Maybe.
However, plans are plans and reality is usually something altogether different.
Three days after Christmas I sat smack dab in the middle of the holidays and in the middle of an extremely busy Mall of America in downtown Bloomington, somewhere very far away from the deer stands of my plans. In fact, I was having an early lunch at the American Girl Doll bistro, surrounded by dozens and dozens of smiling little girls, each seemingly infatuated with American Girl Dolls — including my daughter, Grace.
There isn’t a lot of male companionship to be found at the American Girl Doll store. As you can imagine it’s very much a world for girls. There were a few guys about, but there wasn’t going to be any discussion of what caliber rifle is best for hunting whitetails; no recounting of bucks shot and hunting seasons past. The men here were catering to their daughters; and for me, being at the American Girl Doll store was more important than hunting deer.
The truth is I had a good time at the American Girl store. Actually, I had a great time. I really did. Grace looked at all the clothes and all the accessories and all the dolls. Her eyes twinkled and danced. We’re small-town people, and these big-city experiences don’t come around every day; she was soaking it all in. Grace spent hours here, and she was very pleased with her purchases.
And when she wasn’t in the store Grace was flying high above the mall on carnival rides with Jack, while happily I sat holding her dolls and packages down below. We smiled at one another when she passed by on the roller coaster. Grace is getting a little older every day.
In fact Grace is no longer the little girl that once flew only as high as the living room ceiling, dressed in footy pajamas in our make-believe games of Peter Pan. I was always Captain Hook, Jack was always Mister Smee, and Grace was always the hero.
I guess it won’t be too much longer and I’ll be competing for Grace’s attention with boyfriends and dates and a quickly approaching grownup world. Eventually, I won’t be able to compete. I suppose every father goes through that. I suppose none of us are happy about it.
So, the holidays have come and gone. I never got out on that stand. The freezer sits bare. And it’s back to daily work and its back to reality. Hunting won’t come again until a change of three more seasons. I never got a buck.
I don’t care. For now, I’ve still got Grace.
Darrell Pendergrass, of Grand View, is a Wisconsin Newspaper Association outdoor writing award winner. Read more of his work at outtherewithdarrell.blogspot.com.