And ... I fell asleep.
A stirring in some nearby leaves awakened me. I opened my eyes and saw that the sun, still well up in the sky when we arrived, had sunken behind the ridge.
Great. My first time hunting and I slept two-thirds of it away ...
The leaves stirred again. I swung my eyes left just in time to see a squirrel hop from the ground to the trunk of a small sapling just 15 yards away.
Slowly, cautiously, I lifted the shotgun from my lap and inched it toward my shoulder. The squirrel caught the movement and started running along a limb. I thumbed the gun's hammer back, and when it clicked the squirrel froze.
The squirrel thumped to the ground, dead.
"Did you get one?" I heard Larry yell.
He ran down the hill, clapped me on the back and shook my hand. "Congratulations. You're a hunter now!" he said.
I looked down at the squirrel cradled in my left palm. It was a big one, heavy-bodied, and I passed it to my right hand to examine its underside. My left hand had drops of the squirrel's blood on it.
A hunter's first blood - the stuff from which long-lasting memories are made.