Anyway, most everyone in my life knows that the third weekend of every October, I head to the Peterson family farm in Salem, SD for Pheasant Hunting Opener! It's a tradition that started with Grandpa Garry and the brothers, and ever since Aunt Cathy and Uncle Steve had the farm (as long as I can remember!) us grandkids have gone out to hunt. I remember walking through the fields as a young girl, tromping behind my dad yelling "up bird" while eating sunflower seeds. As I said in a previous post, it's not so much the hunting as it is the family get together and repeat of yearly traditions that I enjoy.
Of the 12 cousins, five of us are girls and we all started out walking with the group when we were young. Of us five, I was the only one who went through gun safety and got a licence as soon as I was old enough (age 12). I remember going to Fleet Farm with my dad and proudly picking out a youth model Remington 20 gauge pump - my first gun! I've hunted every single year since then (and now use Grandpa's old 12 gauge Remington automatic) and though I may not be a particularly great shot, I love every minute of being in the fields as one of the guys.
When I met Tyge I remember him being so impressed that I was a hunter and thought he was going to die when I took him to the farm for the first year. He fit right in and my cousins treated him like one of the family - it was awesome! From our first year hunting together (2007):
I've always been the only girl who hunts with the crew and am proud to represent! See group shot from 2008:
Last year was one of my favorite years because we had Keely girl and it was so fun to watch her hunt 'em up. She had an impressive water retrieve during one of the first passes and I was such a proud pet parent! Here's her and me with my dad in 2010:
This year however, I decided not to hunt with the guys. When we found out we were pregnant, we would have been almost 10 weeks at the opener, and planned to tell my family then. At the time, I made the decision to not hunt and to stay in the farmhouse with the ladies. Even after the miscarriage, I still decided not to hunt for a few reasons - mainly because I still wanted to stay in the farmhouse and chat with the ladies, I wanted to spend more time with Grandpa, and it's over $100 for an out of state licence - not worth the one day for me...
We got to Sioux Falls late on Friday night and started the weekend off in typical Garry fashion, at McNally's Irish Pub! It was so cool to walk in the door and see an huge table of Garrys - almost everyone was there! We shared a few drinks, many laughs, and told stories well into the night. Saturday, Tyge woke up and went to breakfast early with the hunters and I rode out to the farm with the ladies. It was so good to see everyone and get lots of love, support, and hugs. When the guys came in for the midday break, we stuffed ourselves with Cathy's famous brisket and Grandma's famous pie (yes, I had 2 slices) before they headed out again for the afternoon hunt.
The 2011 group - minus me, as wasn't there yet for picture time :(
The farm house - so many of my memories are made here!
One of Uncle Steve's many farm machines - John Deere!
One of my favorite parts of hunting weekend - sitting in the machine shed for round 2 of beef brisket and pie after a long day's hunt, retelling the day's stories while having many laughs. And cold Bud Light, of course. :)
My two favorite hunters
We spent the night at the farm and on Sunday Tyge hunted a different area of land while I spent the day back in Sioux Falls. I started by having lunch with Grandpa in the cafeteria where he lives. We had such an enjoyable two hour lunch and talked about everything and anything. I was asking how he was doing, if it was getting any easier living without Grandma, and he really put it into perspective by saying, "I have a choice in the matter - I can either be bitter and feel sorry for myself, or I can realize that I still have 5 kids, 12 grandkids and a handful of great grandkids to be thankful for and to live for". A wise man, indeed. We headed up to the apartment, which is still beautifully decorated by Grandma, and reminisced a little more. I could tell he was getting ready for a nap, so I took off and spent the rest of the day with one of my cousins wives and their kids. It was so fun "job shadowing" her as she called it, and I had a blast catching up with her and playing with her kiddos. Tyge came home from the hunt on Sunday (they limited out!) and I drove the exhausted hunters home.
I'll end with the below picture - at the end of the hunting day on Saturday, Aunt Cathy pointed out this gorgeous sunset and noted that it was from Grandma Garry who was smiling down on all us. It will be three years in November since she passed and I still miss her ever day, especially during hunting opener.
(I added the text and plan to send a print to Cathy as a thank you!)