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November 26, 2007

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A Deer Scouting Holiday

A recent school holiday too warm for deer movement, which meant that I had Emma until noon, when she was due to go over to her mother’s.

My daughter would have been happy as a cockroach stuck inside a Twinkie to watch videos all day. Sometimes, however, a parent’s duty is to provoke the storm to get to the sunshine on the other side. When I turned off the TV, the hysteria called to mind Britney Spears being cut off at a bar. “I don’t wanna go to the woods!” she wailed. “It’s boring!” I nodded, then gave her a choice: She could put on her clothes herself or I would put them on her. Well, her socks hurt her feet, and her shoes hurt her feet, and her pants had a seam in the wrong place that might have been drawing blood by the howls she emitted. When she ran out of clothes, she switched to general health, claiming she was sick and that her “hair hurt.” By the time I bundled her into the car, her face was splotchy with a 7-year-old’s rage.

The good thing about my daughter is that her anger often subsides as quickly as it arrives. Driving along, we were soon tallying the reddest fall maple foliage in the history of the world. A small hawk buzzed us as we exited the car to look for deer sign in a nearby park. “Whoa!” Emma breathed. “Awesome!” Thirty yards into the brush, Emma exclaimed “Daddy, poop!” over a pile of fresh droppings. Suddenly she was on board. “Let me go first,” she said, whacking a way through the prickers with her stick. Being the same size as a deer, she was soon leaving me in her leave duff as she rocketed down deer tunnels.

Before long, she had found prints, rubs, and a couple of fresh scrapes. She insisted on leading the entire time, except when she ran out of gas 200 yards from the car. I put her on my shoulders and told her she’d done great. “Does this mean I can have the M&Ms in your office drawer?” she asked.

“How’d you know about those?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said distractedly. “Can I?”

“You can have some of them,” I said.

We drove home singing a geography song she’s learning in school.

You may be wondering: Does taking a day in season to go scouting with your daughter in a park where weapons are prohibited count as “hunting”?

The answer is “Yes.” It also counts as something far more important.


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I've always enjoyed your columns about your daughter as I have one the same age and can relate completely to your stories.

Shared adventures make for wonderful memories and I wish you both many more.

I assume you have recently divorced based on the title you have assigned to your wife as "her mother". I applaud you trying to stay involved as much as possible. So many fathers don't.



Thank you Bill. Thank you for not letting a child wreck their brains in front of an idiot box.

I want to be outdoors everyday, and I want my grandkids to want to be so as well. Sometimes it has to be forced, but with good results.

Rarely do children fondly recall the time they spend with Dad watching television detachedly. It's the time spent together - doing something fun together, like looking for steaming piles of...(Note: this comment has reached its word count limit. Please deposit 25 cents to continue.)


I've got a 16yr and a 5 yr old. Both girls and totally opposite of the other. The oldest you couldn't get off the couch with a crain, and the other we can't keep indoors. The youngest, my outdoor buddy, loves to watch the deer behind my house come in for their feeding. I live in city limits, so these deer are relativly safe. She comes up with names and stories to go with each of them. My favorite story she has come up with is about this little spike buck that has started hanging around lately. She says he's looking for his mommy, and thinks he's lost because he just wanders around constantly looking every direction. We have been down to the shed when they came in, and it was almost too much to ask for her to keep quiet. We watched for about 20 minutes, then they left. We did get some great pictures, made some great memories, and made up some great stories too! Cheers!

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