When I first started hunting many years ago with my father I had one thing on my mind when I went out... come back with something. No matter what I was hunting for I measured the success of a hunt by how heavy my game pouch was or what I had at the end of the rope I was dragging behind me. As I grew older I began to realize that it wasn't what I harvested but rather just the fact that I got out at all. I would be content sitting in a tree stand watching a family of racoons walk past or a squirrel climbing up my tree. It was then that I thought I knew what hunting was all about. That was of course until my two children came along. There's just something about having two young kids to share everything with. This last turkey season was my first encounter that involved both my daughter and hunting and let me tell you.... it was quite an experience.
It all started about two weeks before the spring opener when my daughter found out that she would be accompanying me and my son to the mountains for the first weekend of spring gobbler. She went through a transformation unline anything I had ever seen over those next two weeks. The dolls sat in the corner of her bedroom, the coloring books stayed in the drawers and the toy makeup was exchanged for a camo head net. I was quickly heading to the nearest store to pick her up her very own slate call like daddy's. Needless to say my wife was ever so thankful that I made that trip the first time she picked it up. Of course, I was oblivious to her eye rolling as I sat and watched my daughter walk around the house with her new slate call and an ear to ear grin.
As the two weeks drew on we repeated the same conversations over and over. It was always "how many more wakeups daddy"? or "Daddy, can we eat a turkey if you get one" of "Daddy, am I big enough to have my own gun? I can't wait". Of course, unlike many of the repetitious conversation you typically have with a 4 year old these never got old.
Well, finally the day came to pack and head to camp and boy was she ready. I walked in from work and headed to my room to begin grabbing my gear. It wasn't long until I hear the scamper of little feet running down the hall "Daddy!Daddy is today the day"! "Yes it is pumpkin" I replied. "Now head to your room and get packed". She looked at me wide eyed and said "But Daddy, I already am" and boy was she ever. I can honestly say that this is the first time in my life I saw the bed of my truck loaded with hunting gear and pink strollers.
p>Well, after a few minutes packing it was off to camp. The trip itself was pretty uneventful but when we finally arived it was like Christmas day. She quickly jumped from the truck and took in all the surroundings. After she had her fill she came over and began helping me unpack. When we finally got to the decoy she of course had to know what it was. After filling her in on how a decoy worked she informed me that there was a better use for it!
Well, the rest of the day pretty much followed suit with the previous two weeks. Running around mixed with a ton of questions. The next morning was time to go out. Unfortunately she isn't quite old enough to take out in the turkey woods but hey, that's what the pink stroller was for! It didn't take me long to connect on a nice tom and back at the camp I was. It was then that it hit me. I didn't want to go out that day to shoot a turkey, I didn't think of how cool it would be to have another fan for the wall. Heck, I didn't even think about anything I normally would think of in the turkey woods. All I could think about was that my little girl was at camp sharing something with me that I always loved to do and that was the coolest thing I could ever hope for. I knew she had her hopes up to see her first turkey and I wasn't going to let her down. It was the first time I have ever hunted where I wasn't doing it for me. I finally had the chance to take everything I learned and everything I loved about this great sport and use it to make my daughter happy.
Needless to say when I got back to camp she was the first one out the door. I once again answered all of the questions and did it with a smile. This is the first pic I took of the bird after I got to camp and it's the most unique picture I have. Many people would look at it and wonder what was so special about it. To them it's just a guy holding a turkey smiling. However, what they don't know is he's not smiling because he harvested a nice bird...nope...he's smiling because there's a very special little girl behind the camera smiling back.