As I loaded the car I double checked the backseat to make sure that I had all the usual stuff for a day trip to the cabin. Boots..check, backpack..check, trail cameras..check, spare clothes and some bottled water..check and check. All the usual suspects were accounted for and it was business as usual up until I grabbed Kitty, a blanket and a cooler bag full of snacks and fixings for PB&J sandwiches. This trip was going to be my 3yr old’s first attempt at a day trip and, despite his sleepy eyes thanks to the 5:30am wakeup call, you could see the excitement on his face.
He loves going up to the cabin and was very excited to hang out in the woods with his dad and uncle but I was a bit nervous, I wasn’t sure how he would do on a day in which the plan was to do a lot of walking and exploring. He’s as full of energy as any toddler you’ll ever meet but trudging through thick underbrush and climbing over logs can take its toll on little legs and quickly turn what seemed like a good idea at the time into a long day.
As we neared the cabin the day got off to a good start when we saw that our landowner had started the process of turning about 45 acres of former pasture land into farm fields for this year. The former pasture will be planted into canola this year and we are really excited to see how this major change improves our hunting. We aren’t exactly sure how this will effect deer movement but we’re confident that turning an area that was pretty much unused/avoided by deer in the past into a food source can only be seen as a positive.
The first mission for the day was to do a bit of walking/scouting/shed hunting so we quickly headed off into the woods to begin our journey. We decided to walk the thickest stuff first in an effort to help my son overcome the adversity through his excitement and energy and our plan worked pretty well. Other than a few “dada I’m stuck!!” moments he did really well and worked his way along keeping up with us pretty well. This area is normally pretty wet and the recent rains assured that there were ample water holes to work around. The water and mud made things a little interesting from time to time but in the end we all made it through safe and even managed to stay dry.
From there we worked our way over to our largest food plot and were pleasantly surprised to see it had also been tilled up and was ready to be seeded to canola. This plot had been getting hit hard this winter and we were really hoping to find a shed or two in or around the plot this spring. I had walked this area a few weeks back with no luck and, despite our best efforts and hopes, this trip was also a bust in terms of sheds. We were a little bummed not to find a shed but my son’s energy level was given a boost when he and my brother in-law came across an old doe skull in the weeds.
My brother in-law wanted to walk another area of the farm so my son and I took a break on a few big rocks on the hillside overlooking the freshly tilled farm field below us. Much to the delight of my son four geese, who were making quite a racket, flew in and landed in the small pond in the middle of the field. As we waited for my brother in-law to return my son and I discussed important topics like why the skull had come off the deer, why the deer had teeth, why the teeth were so big and dirty and why some tractors are orange and some tractors are green. Of course we also had to keep an eye on the geese and roll a few rocks down the hill in our spare time as well.
There is always a sense of joy for a parent when you see your child happy and enjoying themselves and sitting on those rocks sharing a beautiful afternoon with my son was definitely one of those enjoyable moments. It was awesome listening to the excitement in his voice as he talked about things going on around him and asked all the “why” questions that 3yr olds are famous for. You could literally see him building his own love for the outdoors and I couldn’t have been happier.
Over the course of the day there were many happy moments for my son. Throwing rocks and sticks into the pond, creek and river, jumping ditches (furrows in the freshly tilled field) with daddy, trudging through mud and water, playing in what was left of a large snow drift, catching a frog and a snake and inspecting the dead deer that we found were all highlights of his busy day.
As the day wore on I knew he was getting tired and once we were back at the cabin and ready to head home the weight of the day began to hit him. He was a bit cranky as we loaded up and it took some negotiating to get him in the car and avoid a meltdown. I wasn’t at all surprised when, less than 10 minutes into our trip, I looked back and saw my son asleep in the back seat. I couldn’t help but chuckle. Over the course of the day he had seemed like such a big boy out walking around the woods and hanging out with the guys but asleep in his car seat he suddenly looked little again. It was then that I really realized what a trooper he had been, keeping right up with us all day long. He had definitely earned the nap he was taking.
As we drove home I thought back on the day. We had gotten some important things done in terms of getting cameras out, scouting and taking care of a few chores but those jobs were nowhere near as important as one other thing we had done.
We had spent the day showing my son how to love and enjoy the outdoors and that far outweighed anything else we accomplished.
Take care, and thanks for reading!!