I can’t remember a single day when I wasn’t in the outdoors with my family. My parents reared my older brother, younger sister, and I in a way that most parents do not. They reared us as hunters.
I still recall the first time my dad showed me how to shoot a bow. We were living in Pennsylvania at the time. We had a little, plastic, red, beginner’s bow. My dad was showing my brother how to shoot it. Of course, being the younger sister, I wanted to be able to do anything that my brother could do. I asked my dad if I could try and he helped me pull back the small bow and I shot. I will never forget that day. I can reminisce the feeling of releasing the arrow. It was fast (fast for a 2-3 year-old), smooth, complete.
Once we moved to Colorado when I was 3-4 years-old we got even more into the idea of hunting. My dad would take us out all of the time. My brother, sister, and I would dress up all into camo and put on face-paint. We would carry backpacks with snacks, drinks and game calls. My dad would show us how to find the tracks of the animals. We would then proceed to the tree stands and ground blinds my dad had set up. We would sit for about 2-3 hours before he would take us back to the house. It was hard being so still and quiet for us since we were crazy little children. As we grew older we learned to be more patient and quiet.
I would say that turkey hunting was my favorite at the time. It was super fun for me as a child because we used decoys and box calls. My father would let us take turns in using the box call. I’m absolutely sure we scared away more turkeys than we called in to us.
My dad would also take us shed hunting. Every now and then when it was slow and we weren’t finding anything he would call us over to where he found a shed. He wouldn’t say that he found one. He would start a conversation with us and have us look around a little bit until we would find what he had already found. Looking back on it, I’m so glad he did that. It gave us a better eye for shed hunting. It wasn’t until I was about 6 or 7 years old that I figured out his little shed hunting trick. I then told him he couldn’t help me anymore like that. I definitely did not find as many sheds as “I” used to, but it was on my own and my dad was proud.
My brother, Tekoah, then began to use the sheds to make antler lamps. He would make them whenever we would find antlers that were worthy. He would then sell them. He would let my sister and I help him. We were so fascinated by the way he would make antler lamps. We hated one part of it though. When he would drill a hole in the antler for the wiring my sister and I would leave the room he was working in because the smell was so rancid. Once he finished the drilling we would come back in and continue to help him. We eventually got used to the smell and stayed to help him the whole time.
I look back as a small child getting to be around the animals that my father harvested. He would teach us about the animal, how to skin the animal, gut it, and collect the meat. After we would collect the meat and finish up with the animal we would take it home and prepare it for freezing. For as long as I can remember we’ve eaten everything we’ve shot.
I remember discussing the hunting industry with my father all the time. Many people view hunters negatively. They are entitled to their opinions. Do I agree with them? No.
It’s really sad, honestly but I’m to the point where death threats and negative comments don’t bother me anymore. If I would go through all of the negative and positive comments, negative would probably overrule 90% to 10%. Unfortunately, that’s part of being in this industry and having to deal with people who are uninformed about what we do and the benefits.
I’m very thankful for the way my parents reared us. We have a better understanding of hunting, traveling and outdoor skills than most people do. Hunting has always been a big part of my life and has taught me many lessons such as patients, how to provide, be diligent and high on the list, how to truly be thankful. Of course there is so much more.
I think it’s very important to have children involved in hunting and other outdoor activities because it teaches them many skills that they can then use in their lives, not only in hunting but in life in general. I haven’t had a lot of time this year to get out in the woods because of school and athletics. I miss hunting and can’t wait to get back in the outdoors, but I know this is just for a brief time of my life. I’ve used many of the skills I learned as a child through hunting in my day-to-day life. When I have children of my own I will definitely make sure they are involved in the outdoors, learn to hunt, and be thankful for the opportunities hunting can give you.