The snow crunched beneath my gum boots as I walked in a straight line away from the farm buildings. In the Wisconsin 20 below zero weather, it was so cold that I could feel the hair inside my nose bristle and freeze. My blue tick hound, “Ruby”, raced circles around me aimlessly chasing barn pigeons that were picking corn out of the cow manure that I had spread on top of the snow earlier that morning.
It was ten-thirty A.M. and all the chores were done for the day. The last few rows of corn were husked and in the silo. It was my favorite time of the year. That time when all I had to do was the chores in the morning and again in the evening. It was too cold to work in the sawmill or in the fields, so I had two choices. Stay cooped up inside our farmhouse all day playing checkers with one of my eight brothers or five sisters, or take to the woods with my rifle and do some hunting. I almost always chose hunting. If for no other reason than to get away.
It was my first year out of school, I was 15, and I was free. Usually I went with several of my brothers to hunt, but today was different. Today was special. Today was the beginning of a new era in my life. A sip of a drink that, once it has been tasted, there is no recovery from. As the top of the tallest silo disappeared over the hill behind me, I glanced across the fields and scanned the woods approaching to my front for any prying eyes. This had to be perfect.