At this point, I knew enough to become a whitetail guide under an Ohio outfitter. I thought I would enjoy the challenge of trying to put other hunters on whitetail, but I quickly learned that when you guide hunters it doesn't leave much time to hunt yourself. After not hunting for two years, I decided guiding was not for me and left the job.
I returned to the woods the next season, bow in hand. I soon found myself 20 feet up in a tree drawing on a deer again, but this time it was a 200-inch whitetail buck that changed my life forever. I let the arrow go and took my first Boone and Crocket whitetail with a bow. Although I have taken other trophy-class whitetail, I am still chasing that feeling to this day.
Now, after many years of learning and guiding, I'm proud to say I'm teaching my two most important students: my daughters Amanda and Tricia. This year, we started turkey hunting together on the same hilltop where my father took me on my first squirrel hunt and nearly 70 years after Dad’s first hunt. My oldest daughter will start bowhunting this year, and in a few years, my youngest will follow.
It's hard to describe the joy and satisfaction of being in the middle of this family tradition with all of us having such an intimate connection to this land and the animals that live here. I look forward to the challenge of teaching my two new students the one thing that has driven me like nothing else and passing on the knowledge and skills I've learned in these woods over the years.
Amanda and Tricia may have a ways to go as hunters, but they have already taught me some of the most important lessons a hunter can learn: Be patient. Don't always be so serious, and always enjoy just being out there.