I have read about the parent-child hunts on BigGameHunt.net and they always bring a smile to my face. There is something special about parent-child hunts. Part of that “special” is that bring a family together to share the outdoors. Not too many families do much together these days, let alone outdoor activities so it is good to see one generation passing the tradition of hunting down to the next.
Not only do these stories bring a smile to my face, they also remind me of my turkey hunt with my daughter. This is the story. Be sure to read it all the way to the end because it has a post script that is pretty common these days.
I waited impatiently for my eleven-year-old daughter Alicia to come out of school. The minutes slowly ticked as I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. “Where is she I thought?” Finally, she came up to the truck and asked me, “why are you here? Where’s mom, I wasn’t expecting you?”
I told her that my afternoon meeting was cancelled, it was opening day of archery turkey season and I had time to take her turkey hunting if she wanted. She quickly said yes and we were off to change and pick up our gear.
We arrived at the farm where I had permission to hunt. Despite being April 1, it seemed almost like winter so we donned our matching Stormy Kromer wool hats. I showed my daughter how to shut the truck doors quietly by holding the handle open and pushing the door shut and we were off.
It was just before 4:30 pm when we entered our ground blind. I opened my backpack and gave my daughter her schoolbooks to study while we waited for the turkeys to come. I removed the quiver from my Mathews Switchback LD and taking an arrow it, nocked it on my bow. I placed the bow into my bow holder and we were set.
The evening was cool and I helped Alicia to pull the earflaps down over her ears. My wife told me that the hats look stupid, but my daughter and I like them and it is sure nice to have a warm hat on an evening like this one. Plus, we had ordered black to help conceal us in the ground blind.
“Are you ready to try calling,” I asked? Silly question – darn right she was ready as I handed her the box call. I told her to go ahead and call like we practiced. My daughter stroked the box call, smiling the entire time. “How was that,” she whispered? “Great, just hold it a little lighter in your hand and don’t lift the handle as you stroke it.”
Suddenly there was a loud “who a who” and a long screech! “What was that?” she asked, not bothering to whisper. Her eyes were wide and her senses on alert. “An owl, I think.” The screech at the end was odd. It sounded more like a bobcat than an owl, I thought. “Sounded like two people fighting to me,” she said. I just smiled and said, “I’m pretty sure it was just an owl."
My sweet little daughter leaned over and smiling, she quietly said, “I like being out in the wilderness like this.” I smiled back and replied, “me too.” Of course inside I was laughing thinking that this farm is not what I would call wilderness. Not exactly wilderness when you only have to walk a quarter mile to the road. But I guess it is relative and for her this was the wilderness.
I couldn’t help to wonder if this hunting trip would be the beginning of a love for the outdoors. If some day she wouldn’t actually want to go into the real wilderness to hunt or just enjoy nature because of this time together.
I glanced at my watch, 6:30 pm, about an hour before dark. We should be seeing something soon as the turkeys make their way back to roost. I looked over at my daughter and even in the shadows of the blind I could see her nose was red. I had given her my coat to use as a blanket to keep warm, but apparently it was not enough.
“You’re cold, aren’t you?” I asked. She was trying to tough it out, but I could see the chilly April evening was winning. I knew the answer, but I asked, “Ready to go home?” She nodded yes and we packed up and headed back to the truck.
No, we didn’t get a turkey that night, but as most hunters know it’s not about filling the tag with an animal. There are lots of other tags to be punched – ones that you don’t draw for or buy over the counter.
One of my greatest responsibilities as a dad is to fill my daughter’s life with great childhood memories. I am sure the adventure of sitting in a ground blind in the middle of the “wilderness” and calling for turkeys filled the “good memory” tag that night.
I have had other turkey hunts that season and while they all were wonderful, none were more memorable or enjoyable than the one I shared with my daughter.
Now for the post script that I promised at the beginning of the story. My daughter is now 14 and just about 2 months ago as we were coming home from school she said to me, “Dad, can I be a vegetarian?” I thought to myself “what happened to my little carnivore that enjoyed game meat so much?”
I told that she could be a vegetarian, but had to meet her nutritional needs as she was still growing. She assured me she would and I asked her why she wanted to be a vegetarian. I wasn’t surprised by the answer. It is pretty typical today. The animal rights groups have targeted the younger generation and have convinced them that farm raised animals are treated inhumanely. The solution to this cruelty is to stop eating meat.
Perhaps later in life she’ll want to go hunting with me again, but for now I’ll just enjoy all the other wonderful things we do together and know that despite being a vegetarian it is a memory she’ll never forget.