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Steve Bartlett: Lessons of the fall

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The bull moose was about five metres from Dad.

Steve Bartlett: The Deep End

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 softly, 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 licence 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.

Steve Bartlett is an editor with Saltwire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and having to eat moose steak. Reach him at steve.bartlett@thetelegram.com.

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