As I reached the top of the hill, my dad, Jerry, stepped out of his deer blind and motioned toward the east end of the field.
A couple of does had stepped into a clearing and were headed toward the pond on the property. He had hoped they might change their mind and come his way, but they were gone by the time I looked in that direction and I never caught a glimpse of them.
When I looked back at my dad, he stood there with a smirck.
It was the kind of smile he flashed when he is either really happy or feeling a bit ornery. In this case, it might have been both.
See, he already had a trophy on the ground.
Shortly before I arrived, a young buck had walked up the fence row and sauntered into the field about 30 yards from my dad. Steady and quiet, just the way he taught myself and my brothers to be when we set ourselves to shoot, he took aim and squeezed the trigger.
The deer didn't run far before dropping in the brush just off the edge of the field. It wasn't more than a year or two old and the small set of antlers were kind of gnarly. By no means was this deer going to mature into the kind of wall-hanger many hunters covet.
Still, in my estimation, it was better than any deer he had ever harvested.
This deer that showed us all what kind of strength, determination and will power the old man possesses.
It reminded me why he is my hero.
Nearly eight months ago, sitting in the intensive care unit waiting room at Blessing Hospital, none of us knew if my dad would ever hunt again. We had no idea what kind of quality of life he might have.
All we knew and all we cared about was he was surviving.
An infection had turned gangrene and required immediate surgery. Had he waited any longer to go to the emergency room, the situation could have been more dire.
It was serious enough as it was. Initially, the doctors told us it could be a long haul. They estimated 16 weeks of recovery, and even then, they didn't know if he'd be able to return to normal activities.
He was 80 years old after all.
The old man started driving not long after doctors told him he was rapidly improving. He went to back to work, albeit at a slower pace with shorter days. And he started talking about the chores he needed to do on the family property near Siloam Springs State Park.
All of that occurred before he ever reached the 16-week mark.
So it shouldn't be surprising that he cruised up the hill last Friday on a four-wheeler, set up in the deer blind and didn't miss when an opportunity presented itself.
The old man doesn't miss often. Nor does he ever give in.
Some might call that stubbornness. I consider it resolve.
When he was laying in the hospital, fighting to get home and get back to normal, my dad looked at me and said, "I can't be down too long. I have too much to do."
No one was going to tell him he couldn't do it either.
Had he given in or given up, the opportunity to stand in a field last Friday and give my dad a high-five never would have happened.
I'm so thankful it did.