Joys of hunting and parenthood

Submitted photo
The author and his daughter go afield together.

This past spring, I had the opportunity to share in a turkey hunt that has, in a way, become a yearly tradition. One of my best friends, Chase Savage of Annapolis, Maryland, comes once a year to hunt long beards with me here in Virginia. Chase is a combat wounded Marine Corps Veteran who lost his right arm on active duty. We’ve formed a relationship with Chase as a family and my kids now call him “Uncle Chase.”

The morning of our hunt was kind of an unfortunate combination of circumstances. The temperature had dropped quite a bit and thunderstorms had plagued us up until about noon. We had several birds gobbling that morning, but no commitments and we decided to regroup.

We packed up, headed back toward my house, grabbed a late breakfast to recharge the batteries, and spent some of the afternoon game planning for the afternoon hunt.

Then something happened that melted my heart. For the very first time, my 6-year-old daughter Ruth came into the room, sat down at the table and simply asked, “Dad, Uncle Chase, can I go with you?”

Now those of you who read my articles on a regular basis know how much I advocate for and encourage young people being taken to the woods by their family and friends. That sentiment is a common trait between Chase and myself, so we of course said yes.

Chase and I carried more gear into the woods than I think I ever have in my life. A backpack of snacks and bottles of water and ear protection should we actually shoot something while Ruth was with us. Then, just as we set course to where we were headed, a gobbler sounded off in the exact field we were headed to just 100 yards away. We ended up “bumping” the bird trying to get into position with a first-time hunter, but that didn’t matter at all.

When that turkey gobbled, that close, I saw my daughter’s face light up like never before. We walked further, set up and called a little bit, but half an hour later, Ruthie was ready to leave. That moment sparked an interest in hunting for my daughter that no one can ever take away. Hunting with two people who love her and want her to have the best possible time, and a few gobbles had and has her talking turkey probably more often than my wife would like.

But perhaps the most important thing it reminded me of is that a successful hunt is what you make it.

I cannot stress what this moment meant to me. Please take your kids to the woods as often as you can. They might just learn something, or even teach you something.

Hunt hard, Hunt safeand shoot straight friends.

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John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.

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