I started hunting deer when I was about 6 years old with my dad. He would let me carry around my toy gun and follow him through the woods while hunting. When I got a little older he let me carry a .22 rifle and a little later on I got to tote around a break action, single shot 16 gauge shotgun. Finally, when I was eleven years old I got to carry a lever action .30-.30, and in my pocket hold my very first deer tag.
I can't remember all of the emotions of my first experience truly hunting big game, but I can remember some of them. I remember the feeling of power being able to carry a loaded lethal weapon through the woods with the intent to shoot, kill and bag meat for the table. I remember the excitement every time I would hear a noise or see movement in the forest. I remember sitting over clear cuts on a stump and waiting, hoping and praying that something would step out. I remember getting the shakes, jellied knees and heart pounding through the chest rush when one finally did appear out of seemingly nowhere. And I remember the dissapointment after emptying my gun at several deer that first year before I finally got one. But I set out to get a deer and on Halloween night of my first deer season I finally punched my tag.
I was hooked. I've been hunting deer every year since, and I've had some amazing times in the woods. I missed big ones. I've gotten a few big ones. I've been with friends and relatives when they have gotten some nice deer, or maybe their first deer. I've been really blessed to enjoy this "sport" for most of my life. And then there is the streak I've had going. Every year since I was eleven years old I've gotten my deer. The streak is still alive and I'm kind of proud of it.
But things are changing for me. This year I had my most successful hunt, and my most memorable hunt ever. This year I took my daughter, Morgan, on her first hunting trip. She has never really been hunting with me before though she has been to deer camp a couple of times and stayed back and played in camp when she was younger. So she was green, and I had lots to teach her. And it was fun to be able to pass my hunting knowledge on to her. It was fun to watch her walk through the woods with a rifle and an orange vest and probably feel some of the same emotions I felt on my first hunt. It was a down right amazing feeling when she squeezed the trigger and dropped a deer dead in it's tracks on her very first shot. It was fun to celebrate with her. I was amazed at how she hung in there and helped field dress and skin it.
I was more proud that evening than any evening of insuring my streak was still alive. And the message I got felt so true...."It is more blessed to give than to recieve." Passing on the heritage, the knowledge, the excitement and the fun of the outdoors is way more rewarding than drinking it in for your own enjoyment. I'm glad my dad learned that, and I'm glad I'm learning that as well.
Morgan- I am so proud of you. Not just because you are a good hunter and a great shot. I'm proud of how well rounded you are. How you are always up for trying something new. How you are not afraid to be yourself. I'm proud of how you are doing in school. I'm proud of you for being a leader. I'm proud of how well you are doing in your sports. I'm proud of how pretty you are. I'm proud of what a good sister and daughter and friend you are. I love your heart for horses, goats, dogs, cats and any other animal you could find to care for. Most of all I'm proud that you love God and that you want to find His will for your life. And I am honored that I get to be a part of helping you find that.
Thank you for the wonderful memory this fall. I had a blast hunting with you.
We were able to capture Morgan's hunt on video and it will be on our DVD coming out this winter.