Leg­ends of the fall

Annapolis Valley Register - - OPINION - Steve Bartlett

The bull moose was about five me­tres from Dad.

He raised his ri­fle and fired at the very large an­i­mal.

BOOM!

I waited for it to fall, but Mr. Moose con­tin­ued stand­ing sto­ically.

Dad had missed — from just a foot-long sub away!

“The sights must be off,” he whis­pered.

“The gun’s or yours?” I replied. Slowly, he put the gun to his shoul­der, took aim and fired again. BOOM!

I waited for the majestic moose to hit the for­est floor, but … it didn’t. It con­tin­ued stand­ing, taunt­ing us. “Geez, I’ve got to get those sights checked,” Dad said softy, not want­ing to scare a moose un­fazed by two gun blasts.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” I chided. “I won’t tell any­one. I’m go­ing to tell EV­ERY­ONE.”

I’m not a hunter, and held no li­cense to hunt moose or carry a gun. I was there to help Dad if he bagged some big game, and I couldn’t of­fer to take a shot my­self.

With stub­born de­ter­mi­na­tion, Dad fired at the big fella one more time. BOOM!

Third time had to be a charm, es­pe­cially with a moose seem­ingly pos­ing for us.

But Dad missed again.

He turned to me with the most de­feated look I had ever seen on his face.

He shrugged his shoul­ders and an­nounced he was done for the day.

The moose looked at us and started trot­ting away, as if to say, “So long, Suck­ahs!”

Sens­ing Dad’s frus­tra­tion, I did what ev­ery sen­si­tive son would.

I razzed him end­lessly, re­fer­ring to him as Big Shot, Ea­gle Eye, and Bull­stin­kle.

“Maybe you were too tight,” I joked. “Maybe you need to be more loosey moosie.”

“Why did the moose cross the road?” I asked. “To see if some­one else could shoot.”

“What a load of BS!” I pro­claimed, “and by BS, I mean bull shot.”

Dad, a tal­ented teaser in his own right, took it all in stride.

We laughed a lot that day, but he never hunted again.

He was later di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia and was slowly stolen from us over the next decade.

I’ll never know if the dis­ease made him miss the moose that Oc­to­ber morn­ing.

I’ll never know if his sights were off or if he just couldn’t bring him­self to kill an an­i­mal in front of his youngest son.

I’ll just never know so many things. But while we didn’t get the moose, we got a last­ing mem­ory.

That was 17 years ago and I think about it ev­ery year when the cal­en­dar changes to the 10th month.

Think­ing about that day brings with it a smile and, now that I’m a dad my­self, a re­minder to cher­ish time and make mem­o­ries with the peo­ple you love.

Why not take your best shot at do­ing so to­day?

And don’t feel any pres­sure for it to be per­fect.

Some­times the best mem­o­ries are made when you miss.

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