Before I was even born, I was destined to be a hunter. That’s right! My mom and dad hunted together way before I was even a gleam in their eyes. Matter of fact, when my mother was pregnant with me, she would often go out with my dad to the backwoods in search of wild game.
To this very day, I am thankful for my dad introducing me to what I believe is the best sport on earth, hunting. Dad never had anyone introduce him to the outdoors, I guess you can say he introduced himself. He was curious and enjoyed being in the outdoors, so why not try hunting. Dad is a professional land surveyor by trade. He chose this profession because it was not an everyday “trapped in by four walls and a door” type setting. He was out on the job walking properties in the woods, laying out building foundations, along with drainage, entrances, and roadways.
My earliest memories of hunting are from back when I was just three years old, walking in my father’s footsteps as we eased through the backwoods in search of sign and game. There was no Realtree or Mossy Oak, we hunted in the old style camouflage, patches of green, brown, tan, and black. For the most part, we hunted from the ground in homemade blinds stacked full of brush and logs.
We mainly hunted Florida public land management areas, and were drawn for special quota hunts on hogs and deer every now and then. I think we saw more hunters than we actually did deer, but that was not the point. Yes, it would have been much more memorable if we saw a lot of game and dad harvested a mature buck every now and then, but he was teaching me the roles of nature and how to respect it. He taught me how to walk through the woods very quietly, not stepping on sticks and branches creating noise. He would point out rubs, scrapes, hog wallers, travel corridors, and animal tracks. We camped primitively, from the back of his 1983 Ford F-150, with a mattress we slept on under his camper top to keep us out of the elements. We cooked from a fire or used an old Coleman stove.
Every Thanksgiving, we would travel to my mom’s family’s property in North West Georgia just outside of Newnan in a small town known as Franklin. This was a trip I always looked forward to, just as I do today. Our property runs along the Chattahoochee River, now famous thanks to country music singer, Alan Jackson. We were much more successful hunting our property due to quality deer management and very little hunting pressure, not to mention, the rut was usually in full force around Thanksgiving. I can remember seeing deer most every trip, and I will never forget the first time when my father harvested a mature doe less than 5 yards right before my eyes. He taught me how to field dress the deer, along with all the rest of the work involved in cleaning animals. I was hooked! To this day, we still hunt together and continue to make many memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.
It is now my turn! My daughter Emma, who is 4 years old, is no stranger to the sport. She would kiss all my mounts good night before bedtime when she was just a year old. She watches all of daddy’s hunting shows including my favorite, The Backwoods Life, and loves my cooking, especially meats from successful hunts. She has had it all, from turkey to hogs to deer to elk. She understands how the sport of hunting is a key to survival. She respects guns and bows and knows not to touch them, but one day she will have one of her own. Of course, per her request, in her favorite color, pink.
Emma has been on multiple hunting trips with our family, riding our ATV ‘s, and sitting in a blind playing with her toys with her Grandma Juju. In her eyes, she was hunting and that’s all that mattered. This year it was going to be different! I coached her throughout the deer season on how to be quiet and not to make sudden movements. We rehearsed over and over what to do while sitting in a blind, especially if there was a deer in the vicinity. A goal of mine was to harvest a deer right before her eyes. She was pumped, saying how she wanted to pet it and take pictures with the deer.
It took a few attempts, but we finally got the job done. My wife, Robin, and Emma were set up in a Family Tradition Condo stand along an old oak bottom. I was set up in my GhostBlind tucked in along the edge about seventy yards adjacent from them. The stand they were set up in was set back off in the bottom well camouflaged with palmetto limbs so the deer could not detect any movement she might make.
It did’t take long before deer were funneling through the bottom towards the acorns along the edge, with one of them being a 3 year old 8 point who needed another year of maturity. I could see both Robin and Emma watching the deer as they made it closer to where they were sitting. It’s our responsibility as hunters to place an ethical shot resulting in a clean humane harvest. This was especially important since Emma was watching. I took aim and gently squeezed the trigger knocking the mature doe dead in her tracks. She never knew what hit her. I quickly came out of the blind with both arms in the air with victory. Emma was just as excited as I was, eager to get out of the stand to go see her. I picked Emma up and gave her the biggest hug and told her how much it meant to me she was there to experience what I enjoy most.
I let her lead Robin and I towards the doe. She immediately started petting the doe and was eager to take pictures. She was all into watching me clean the doe asking me questions along the way. Emma, at 4 years old says to me as I was pulling the backstrap out, “Daddy, I know where my meat comes from, the deer”. That’s a statement only a small number of people in the United States can make. She has now witnessed the entire process of the hunt and all the work involved.
My job of inducting another hunter to our kingdom of hunters is one step closer for Emma. This is an experience both Robin and I will never forget. I hope Emma remembers this just like I did when I was a young boy. The Hunt Strong Lifestyle involves taking care of your body: physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s all about living a long and prosperous life filled with many memories in the backwoods and introducing multiple hunters to the sport. I plan on doing the same thing for any other children Robin and I have, as well as my grandchildren, great grandchildren, family members, and friends. I can’t wait to experience Emma harvesting her first deer, hopefully in the near future. Hunting is the ultimate conservation, therefore, Huntin’ Is Good. Hunting is our way of Life, Amen!