Over the past few months especially I have had a lot of people ask why I have taken up hunting. Admittedly I’m sure it was a surprise to a lot of people, after being seen as the “technology guy” for so many years. But it is also no secret that I have always enjoyed nature and being outdoors, just never hunted. In my youth my parents were very involved with the Boy Scouts and I have many fond memories of going to the local scout camp and helping on the weekends. In fact, if you ever find yourself at Camp Vandeventer look for the board with names for the campmaster award and you will find my entire family. When not helping, I can remember hiking in the woods for hours just enjoying the peace of nature and having only my thoughts to accompany me. I think this time taught me many good lessons growing up around community, understanding one’s self-health, and reflecting on life’s many challenges. Still to this day that is what I enjoy the most, regardless of what got me outdoors.
While I did spend a lot of time in my younger years outdoors, it is something I drifted away from in my high school years. Back in those days there seemed to always be something else going on. Whether it was tinkering with cars or hanging out with friends looking back it seems like I was always on the go. What I do find ironic however is that the one sport through those years I have retained is golf. And looking back I can start to see why I still enjoy it. After all to play it you must be outdoors and normally somewhat quiet. Not to say that I am good at the sport, but I find just enjoying it is more important. But had I taken the time to reflect and enjoy nature throughout those years, it may have kept me away from some bad decisions along the way.
To get back on topic however, for me I don’t remember having any opportunities to hunt during my youth. I suppose some may be surprised by that statement given my brother’s long time love of hunting, but for me it was something that was his and I simply did not have the opportunity or desire at the time. Had I shown interest, there is no question that my folks would have found a way to introduce me to it as they had done for my brother. But at that point, I think a bit of pride and brotherly-rivalry may have been amiss.
So getting back to present day, and the point of this rant, why do I hunt? Well, I can tell you very quickly; my son. Hunting is something I honestly have always had an interest in. But after the birth of my son, honing in my outdoorsman skills has taken a new importance. Given this, I was faced with a challenge. After all, I had never hunted, and frankly barely remembered how to fish. After many discussions with my spouse and her loving support I started to seek ways that I could get exposed to hunting and learn. I swallowed by pride and started by reaching out to my brother for advice, and am very glad that I had. He has been able to teach me quite a bit and it has helped heal some of the sores from all those years of brotherly-rivalry mentioned above. I am very grateful for this and we are closer because of it. Additionally I reached out to some of my cousins for their advice. Needless to say I think you could have picked everyone’s jaw up from the floor when I had, but again I am very thankful for it and feel much closer to them and my extended family because of it. Sometimes I guess it’s not about why you ask for help, but just that you do.
While doing all this, I also joined the committee of our local Ducks Unlimited chapter. I started out by emailing them to find out more information, and after attending one meeting I was hooked. While hesitant, I openly went into those meetings as someone that had never hunted a day in his life. I put myself out there, but am very glad that I had. I have made some very good friends, picked up a lot of knowledge, and have been exposed to a lot. Some of course have asked along the way, why now to start. My answer you ask? Simply that everyone has to start somewhere, but if you’re too afraid to leap you’ll never know what you missed.
As I raise my children I look around in our society and I see a constant dulling and devaluing of basic survival skills, the force feeding of political correctness, and basically the fear of anyone to really say what they feel. So to me, for both my son and daughter, these are skills that should be handed down to our next generation. From a survival standpoint, they will need to protect their nation and families long after I am gone. But also from a well-being perspective I want them to be able to leave a stressful day for a few hours and enjoy nature to reflect on their health and life’s challenges. To be able to hunt and fish for food should they need to instead of just for sport. So they can take a stroll in the woods for no reason what so ever other to enjoy the quiet of nature and to respect nature’s abundant wildlife.
In many ways I feel that I was blessed growing up. I had loving parents that instilled great qualities and a deep appreciation for the outdoors. They taught me patience, humility, and volunteerism to name a few and to me that is something that I must be able to pass down to my own children. If we do not, I fear to think what this world and our nation will become.