My closest friend from high school enlisted in the Army shortly after we graduated. He rapidly went from infantry to Airborne, and then he jumped straight to the Green Berets. He learned a bunch of languages, got training to be a medic, and he also became a decorated sniper.
He and I hunted a lot together when we were in high school. We hunted everything from rabbits to big game. Every chance we got, we went hunting. When he retired from the Army, I thought I could learn some great hunting tricks from him. After all, as a sniper, he not only had to learn how to shoot extremely accurately, he also had to learn how to hide. The fact that he lived through two decades of danger shows he learned how to hide very, very well.
Some of those skills would undoubtedly transfer to hunting. Maybe he could teach me how to be more sneaky in the woods, and how to make sure my one shot counts every time. So I asked him if he’d be up for a hunt sometime, and if he’d show me some of the tricks of his trade.
But all that deadly work changed my friend. He’s still a wonderful human being, but he said he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to hunt game animals again. I understand and respect that, but I admit it makes me a little sad. For two reasons. It makes me sad that we won’t ever get to prowl the woods together, looking for deer, grouse or rabbits. And sad for my friend, knowing his life experiences have closed the door on hunting for him.
Maybe someday he’ll be able to hunt again. I hope so. But for now, I’m just grateful for the service he has given our country, and grateful that he’s still around and still my friend.