by Bernard Lee DeLeo
The middle aged man trailed fifty yards behind his fourteen year old son. They hunted squirrels and rabbits before the Montana winter freeze when it would be impossible to reach a store for supplies at times during the winter. He saw his son look up into the overcast sky. Following the boy’s gaze, the father saw a hawk in majestically slow, gliding flight. Smiling in admiration at the hawk’s ability to sail so effortlessly, the man missed seeing his son taking careful aim with scoped .22 caliber rifle. The sharp retort stunned the boy’s father out of his reverie as the hawk plummeted to earth. The boy ran over excitedly to his felled prey. Looking up at his approaching father, he saw the man’s grim look.
“There’s no good comes from killing a hawk, Danny,” the man said kneeling next to the bird.
“I…I never thought I’d hit it, Dad.”
“It looks like you just grazed it. Let’s back away. Don’t know if it’ll revive or not. You’ll have to finish it off if it doesn’t.”
Danny nodded, his hands tightening on the rifle he carried. He followed his father away from the scene, glancing back with furtive hope. The two watched the twitching hawk until Danny figured he’d have to shoot it again. Suddenly, the dazed hawk popped up in a wild dance for a moment before streaking up into the air.
“I won’t do it ever again,” Danny promised, watching the hawk soar once again.
“I know, boy.”