By HUNTER REDFIELD – Student Contributor
Every night, I go to sleep and three bright red empty 3 1/2” Kent shotgun shells stand next to each other on my nightstand.
They stand there to signify the completion of a triple trophy, yet they all have different stories behind them.
The first started with a deer season that I don’t quite remember. However, the week right around when I shot my buck that kicked off the quest for my first triple trophy is anything but forgettable. This was mainly because it was one of the most painful weeks of deer season imaginable.
After a climbing tree stand was adjusted, and a pin had missed a hole, the bottom dropped from me as I made my ascent up a cherry tree, and upon catching myself on the top part of the stand, my body came to a screeching halt.
With momentum still carrying down, an unforgettable feeling of not being able to breath and what was then a stinging sensation all through my chest struck me.
A break from hunting the night after was one of the more intelligent decisions, however, the following night I was out again. It took more time than ever imaginable for me to even think about getting into a climber again, but very painfully and slowly I made my way up the tree.
This process went on for a few nights, until the night when, just after we climbed up our trees, a small buck walked right up and sniffed my tree and soon after leaves crunching could be heard behind us. A decent eight point was coming our direction.
He was walking by and started to turn toward me when I let the arrow fly, and almost immediately blood gushed out as he ran across the point and down over the hill before crashing.
We slowly but steadily drug him out. We went to go show my grandparents and then stop down the road to not only pick up some candy, since it was Halloween, but also to hear about how my deer was the best thing Stacy had seen all night, as he must not have been a fan of the costumes.
Then came bear season and tracks in the snow. The sound of a gun cracking spread through the valley and my first bear was at hand.
A wait soon followed for spring turkey season, and it seemed to last forever. With each day a little more excitement came, and so did the stress of completing a triple trophy.
The Penguins were in the playoffs and, seemingly, every night they went into overtime and kept me up late. It seemed like one of the most strung out seasons at the time, but one night, turkeys were roosted in a place we could hunt the next morning.
I woke up, got ready for school, put my camo on, and we left in the dark to sneak into where the turkeys had been roosted with just a little bit of time to kill one and get to school.
Instantly, turkeys gobbled as it got light, and before I knew it, a long beard was coming in. However, for some reason he had hung up, but, unluckily for him, was not out of range. Soon, the first empty Kent was collected off the ground, the turkey was carried out, and pictures were taken before we rushed to school.
Summer went by and fall was once again in the air. The first morning of archery season was far from exciting, and not even a squirrel had been seen. So, to say that there was any hope for the afternoon is a drastic understatement. We made it into our stands, and after watching many squirrels run all around me, a buck had been spotted, but rather than walking to me, he did half of the work and then bedded down within shooting range behind a cluster of branches that made a shot impossible.
A smaller buck was working his way up the hill and walked right underneath me just as my phone vibrated in my pocket and sent him leaping a few feet, then stopping confused at what had just happened, only to carry on his walk to a nearby field. The larger buck saw the smaller one and stood up, and then he took a few steps into the gap. I was at full draw on and stopped. The shot was a bit far back, so we left him go overnight and searched for him in the morning, finding him and then dragging him out before it got too hot.
Bear season yet again came, and to my surprise I was able to kill yet another PA black bear. This one, however, was a nuisance bear and had an amazing story behind her when we found out how much she had traveled on foot in her lifetime. Yet again, I was left waiting for turkey season, and I knew it would be a struggle.
Every morning before school my alarm would go off at 4:30 and I would prepare myself for school before getting my hunting clothes on and leaving, only to hunt for about an hour and be sent rushing to school. This process continued for many days and every morning the turkeys gave us the slip in some way or another.
Soon, the afternoon season had begun, and I found myself in a familiar place being that I was exactly in the same spot as the year prior. A gobble was heard way off in the distance and we yelped as loud as possible, just hoping the gobbler would be able to hear us. There is no doubt he did as every gobble he let out was growing louder and louder before a red, white, and blue head could be seen coming through the woods.
He began strutting around in front of us. The second Kent was ejected from the Charles Daily before the turkey even knew that the hen he was showing off for wasn’t real and one of the most tiring turkey seasons had came to a close with a second triple trophy.
Despite some incredible trout fishing, spring turned to summer, and summer seemed to zip by, and before I knew it fall was here again.
Every night of archery season was spent in a tree stand, and upon the 20th day, I had passed up 17 bucks and was beyond ready to be done.
That night I passed up another 2 bucks before I saw a decent 8 point come out. As soon as he was in range, I shot, only to watch him run across the field and stop as steam could be seen rolling out of him as the sun made its descent.
He laid down and then stood up and walked into the woods. It was one of the oddest things that could have happened after shooting him; however, despite the fact that he didn’t seem like he was going to give up, we found him lying 10 yards inside the woods. We took pictures and upon flipping him over to drag him out noticed that he had white all around his shoulder, and a little on his nose signifying he was piebald.
As we waited on Mike to bring the tractor back and make the easiest deer drag of all time, I remember standing there and saying “That’s the first of three” and listening to my dad and Scott both say that I wouldn’t be able to pull off getting a buck, bear, and turkey three years in a row.
However, if they remembered me saying those words, that in the field when bear season rolled around, I’m sure they would have been biting their lips as I smiled into the camera sitting behind my bear, and yet again the wait for turkey season was on.
There were hardly birds anywhere and we could only roost a few in the same spot every couple of nights. The youth day of turkey came and I found myself in a very familiar spot since I had killed turkeys there the two years prior.
The turkeys gobbled on the roost and flew down only to sneak in on us silent and allow me to collect that third empty Kent that sits next to me as I type this article.
Those three empty shotgun shells that are almost identical all have their own significance and own stories behind them. I have met more than a handful of people who have wanted to just have a chance at a quest to get a triple trophy and yet we’re never granted the opportunity. To me those three shotgun shells aren’t a reminder that I’m a good hunter, or that I’m better than other people, but yet a reminder of how lucky I have been the past three seasons and they are something I will cherish forever.