Growing up I can remember my Dad (Charles Ray ‘Pepaw’ Starkey) traveling to work as a millwright; when he would come home it was he and I going fishing or hunting. Every Christmas I always knew one gift would be a gun; first a BB gun and then as I got older, a pellet gun and then a rifle.
At the age of 10 I got my first “big gun”—a Harrington & Richardson Topper Model 83 .410 gauge. The first thing my Dad did was give me a safety lesson on how to load and unload the gun. I can remember being told to push that little button next to the hammer and the empty shell flying out and hitting me in the lip. My Dad laughed, having forgotten to tell me to move my head. From that day forward it was smoking shells flying over my shoulder as rabbits and squirrels fell to my deadly aim, my Dad by my side. At the age of 13 I got my first deer rifle—a Winchester Model 1894 lever-action 30-30—and again Dad was there giving me safety lessons. I can remember opening that first box of ammunition—a lead soft-point—and laying the cartridges into the feed tray, giving them a shove forward into the magazine and hearing them snap into place.
I remember my first deer season; my Dad was standing right next to me as the deer came into range. I waited for him to tell me to cock the hammer of my new trusty 30-30 and take aim. My heart was pounding as the doe got closer to us. He quietly gave me the go ahead and I cocked the hammer back; my hands were shaking and I could see the doe’s breath as she exhaled coming toward me. I was sure she would hear my teeth rattle. My Dad told me to breathe and to take aim. I shot, she dropped and I yelled so loud I think everyone in the county knew I had just gotten my first deer—my Dad right there to see it.
Years later my friend and I took up predator hunting. While learning the basics of calling a coyote into shooting range, it brought back memories of hunting deer with Dad and I immediately knew it was something I wanted to share with him. One day as Dad and I were sitting around, shooting the breeze and looking for something to do, I brought it up. I suggested we go coyote hunting. At first Dad wasn’t too sure about the idea. He would just need to trust me. So I took him to my favorite hunting spot and told him where to sit and watch. I set up the decoy in front of us, took my place and began making my rabbit distress call. Two minutes later, CRACK! I looked over my shoulder at Dad and he’d shot the coyote! He had this look of amazement I will never forget and I now knew how he felt all those years ago when he helped me get my first deer. The rest of the day it was all we could talk about. Dad was amazed that I, his son, had called his first coyote. Every time he retold the story I felt the same excitement as I did when I first heard the sharp bark of his rifle and saw that look on his face.
Dad and I continued to go predator hunting, but I wanted to make the experience better and I knew that having a day/night vision scope would make the hunt just about perfect. So I searched high and low for one that would cost less than a down payment for a new car, but sadly my search turned up nothing. I had just about given up hope until one day I ran across the ATN X-Sight HD. As I read about the device I thought it was too good to be true, with all of these features for a fraction of the price. I’ll admit, at first I was a little apprehensive, but the enticing thought of how much better hunting coyotes with my Dad would be with a day/night scope finally won me over and I purchased an ATN X-Sight HD 5-18x. When it came in the mail I looked it over, decided which rifle to mount it on and read through the user manual. At first I had some technical difficulties, but luckily ATN came out with some firmware updates and the X-Sight became everything I thought it could be. It was now simple to use and my first thought was, “my Dad could do this.” It’s funny because my Dad taught me how to shoot a gun and now it was my turn to teach him how to use the X-Sight. Luckily, the X-Sight is easy to use and Dad figured it out quickly. We soon found ourselves at the range, cackling over our new toy and putting some lead through our rifles. Much to my excitement, my Dad loved the X-Sight. Like Father, like Son.
For Father’s Day 2015 there was no other gift I could think of for my Dad than the X-Sight. I purchased an X-Sight HD 3-12x for him and waited patiently for it to arrive. I was at work the day it came to his house and much to his dismay I told him he couldn’t open it until I got home. I still laugh about that day as I can’t even count how many times he called me asking if he could open it. Today, he loves his X-Sight and can operate it with ease. I love seeing the smile it puts on Dad’s face every time he uses it. I think the reason I love hunting with my Dad is because of the memories we make. With the X-Sight’s video feature we can record our memories and watch them time and time again together. I can also now share with my own children Dad and I’s hunting memories and they can hear the bark of the rifle and see the wonder and amazement on Grandpa’s face for themselves.
Written by: Charles Starkey Jr. is the undersheriff for the Okfuskee County Sheriff Office. He lives in Okemah, Oklahoma, with his family and loves hunting and spending time in the outdoors with his dad Charles ‘Pepaw’ Starkey Sr.