While tromping through the woods with our scent-free rubber boots looking for deer tracks, scat, and trees to hang our stands, a magnificent white pine piercing the sky with huge fanning arms came into view. It was perfect; both the tree and the hunting location, so we drew closer to the majestic tree. Once up close, we noticed metal pegs spiraling around the tree up to a recently installed tree-stand.
My heart sank but quickly recovered when I remembered it’s perfectly lawful to sit in another person’s stand. To get a better view, I scaled the tree and looked around; the sights, shooting lanes, and fresh air filled with aroma from nearby Cedars and Douglas Firs were beautiful. But this all went away when I prepared for my descent back onto the ground. I looked down and saw the dozens of metal pegs sticking out of the tree like lethal injections. It’s illegal to do this to any trees on public property, let alone Michigan’s state tree, the Northern White Pine.
I sat for a minute pondering what to do, the pegs were illegal and should be taken down but taking them was stealing. I wasn’t too worried about it; my dad would know what to do. I spun around seeking his permission to remove the steel stepping sticks from the tree. His response was simple but changed me forever, “If it’s okay with you” he said staring at the tree. I couldn’t understand what he meant by this, if it’s OK with me to let this unlawfulness continue? Or if it’s OK with me to steal them? Slowly I recognized that he meant it was my decision to make, not his. I then realized that I could no longer rely on my father to make my decisions, I had to make them myself, and I would have to accept the consequences. It was the moment when I turned from my father’s boy into my own man.
Sure it takes years for the real transition from child to adult to take place, but I believe there is a specific moment in every person’s life when he truly becomes an adult and it’s not at some Bar Mitzvah and definitely not when he turns 18.