One of my fondest memories, is of the first time I ventured into the woods with my father to go hunting. Actually it was just to scout an area my Dad had planned to hunt for whitetails, but all I knew, was that I was “hunting with Dad”. You know, serious business, grown up stuff!
Oh, I had been hunting before…well, mostly I had hung around Elk camp with the hunting wives and other kids deemed too young to venture into the woods with the men. And sometimes I got to ride along when someone decided to go road hunting, but to me as a young man, it just wasn’t enough to soothe my manly ego. I wanted to go hunting
; I wanted to participate in the ancient rights that had fed mankind for centuries, long before the advent of super markets and fast food chains.
And finally on one magical, cold and snowy November morning, I was doing just that; I was hunting
with Dad! That morning I got to witness my dad cleanly take a buck with one shot that dropped him in his tracks and learn what it meant to respectfully take the life of an animal that you intend to use as food.
Since that first trip afield with my father, there were many more times when I got to don Hunter Orange and venture out into the woods with him. And eventually I was old enough to have my own hunting adventures; which have taken me from low level Texas hog hunting all the way to the steep and deep back country, chasing more prestigious hooved game.
The comaradarie is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hunting tradition.
My father has since passed on; in fact it will be exactly five years this November 25Th
which coincidentally happens to be the opening of the late archery season. It’s not too hard to imagine where I’ll be and how I’ll be spending my time.
I greatly enjoy and live for every minute I spend in the woods; whether it’s with a bow in my hand, my beloved 10MM, my dad’s old .30-06 or with just a pack on my back, tying to see what’s over the next ridge. But I would trade it all, just to walk the trails with my dad again and get to hear him tell stories of chasing Whitetails with his old, Bear recurve.
I cherish every memory and all the lessons ever learned from my father; which I give all credit for every accomplishment I’ve ever made as a hunter, whether big or small. It all originated from time spent in the woods with him.
As time goes on, I suppose I’ve become more sentimental. I now realize how important it is to show interest in the younger generations and pass on any knowledge or guidance that one may have. After all, what would the future hold if we never passed on the lessons and skills that our fathers passed on to us?
Traditions have played a very large role in civilization for eons and the tradition of hunting is no less important than any other. The skill of hunting is something useful that, besides teaching a youngster how to put food on the table, teaches a host of other character building lessons that contribute to ones development.
I have no kids of my own to pass on these lessons and skills to, but I do have a “nephew”, the step-son of my best friend, who has always held a special place in my heart. He is now eleven years old, but he has been trying to tag along with his Dad and I every since he was five or so. I have never seen a kid quite like him; he has always been so well behaved and patient while in the woods. In fact at times he would be so quiet that we’d almost forget that he was with us! It wasn’t too long before we realized that he had been bitten by the “hunting bug”. I used to crack up when he would excitedly try to relate some little hunting tidbit that he picked up from one of his favorite hunting shows or magazines.
It was at the age of five that his Dad bought him his first bow; he struggled at first, but things got a whole lot easier once we figured out that he was left handed…! Once he got passed that first hurdle, he was definitely hooked and is very much a natural. He would shoot his bow almost every day after school and now is a very fine bow shot; in fact he’s not a bad rifle shot either.
This year he passed a huge milestone in his young hunting career; he took his hunter’s safety course and also graduated to a bow that is more suited for the big game that fills most of his consciousness asleep or awake. Not wasting any time, he accomplished something that took me four years to accomplish; taking a turkey with a bow. Only a couple days after I managed to take my first turkey, spot and stalk style, he decided to try to show me up.
I’ll never forget the phone call that I got that night and I’ll never forget the excitement in his voice as he tried to remember every detail of his feat. It was a feat indeed; apparently while he and his dad were hanging some treestands in preparation for his first deer season, a flock of turkeys were heard. He was just itching to test out his new bow and fill his first tag. He asked his dad if he could try for one of the turkeys, his dad being preoccupied with hanging a treestand, said “sure, why don’t you go kill
one of those turkeys.” Eathan, acting quickly before his Dad could change his mind, snuck off in the direction of the increasing turkey ruckus.
He told me that he couldn’t see the turkeys at first, so he decided to try to call them within range. When he told me this, I expected to hear of him using one of the diaphragm calls that I had given him earlier this year…but then he told me that he didn’t have any turkey calls with him, so he had to use “his voice”…!
Like I mentioned before, Eathan is a pretty special young man and has been mimicking calls with his natural voice for as long as I can remember. He said that after he started calling, he still couldn’t see them but could tell that they were coming closer. It wasn’t long before the first turkeys appeared; a large Tom and a young Jake. I was proud to hear him say that even though the Tom was huge with a long beard, the angle wasn’t quite right, so he decided to take the Jake instead. He started to sneak a little closer because they didn’t seem to want to come any closer, something that turkeys are notorious for, when no turkeys are where “turkeys are supposed to be”.
He finally was busted and the turkeys started to scatter; that’s when he dropped the hammer on the Jake that he had singled out. He said that he watched the arrow slam into the bird, causing him to do a back flip off of the rock he was perched on. He was so excited that he ran back to his Dad to tell him what happened; but of course he was still up a tree hanging a treestand and didn’t quite comprehend what Eathan was trying to tell him. He told Eathan that he better go find him, which sent him excitedly running back to claim his kill.
The smile says it all!
Hearing his story and seeing him put into practice skills that he learned from watching his Dad and I; makes my heart swell with pride and I feel very thankful that I have the opportunity to have this young man to pass on the skills and traditions that my father passed onto me.
Three generations of hunters; carrying the torch and keeping the hunting fire lit.
By passing on this figurative torch to youngsters like Eathan, we as hunters keep the fire lit and the traditions that we love and cherish, alive and well for the next generation to come.
If we don’t take an interest in the younger generations today; who will? We as outdoorsmen should take the lead and do our part to shape the generation of tomorrow by keeping the hunting fire alive!