Every year folks from all walks of life participate in hunting. From the poorest redneck to the high brow elite, young and old, men and women all enjoy hunting. Some are strictly trophy hunters only going for the big buck, tom turkey or whatever their fancy. Some of us hunt for the combined thrill and also the harvest of meat for the winter.
Hunting is a great way to teach responsibility to youngsters. Most state conservation departments require hunter safety/education classes before anyone can partake in hunting. You learn why there are bag limits, weapons safety, why a particular game is in season and what times, and the learning goes on.
As a child I got my first hunting experience at the age of 10. My uncle gave me a quick safety rundown on his .22/.410 over under, which is a great small game and bird firearm. We went pheasant hunting and I later learned that a lot of pheasant hunting is done with dogs, apparently at 10 years old I was the dog. It was a lot of fun and as I grew a little older my step dad bought me a .22 cal rifle for small game which I used to pass the time.
At the age of 14, I took my hunters education course to be able to hunt Whitetail Deer. For 4 years I never really understood the complexities of deer hunting. All I knew was that I was freezing to death every year. When I turned 18, I joined the Marine Corps, went off to North Carolina and met up with an avid hunter, who became a good friend of mine. He was a bow hunter and taught me about tracking, where they bed down, game trails and compound bow safety and use. I bought my first bow, and got my first spiked buck.
All these years I have hunted deer, some years produce and some don’t, though I still believe Missouri has the best Whitetail hunting. This whole week I had seen a few but none I could get a bead on. On Saturday I had seen a nice size buck about 300 yards away to the east, my stand faces North West. My heart was pounding out of my chest, my muscles tensed and by the time I got situated he was gone down in the creek. I walked the creek for about an hour trying to scare him up, but Bucks are smart, they don’t really panic and will lie for hours.
It was ready to go get warm and eat. I was upset, sour and had thought of just giving it up all together since I didn’t harvest any last year either but decided to stick it out another hour. To my surprise, about 45 minutes later a good size doe came running through the open field. (Doe are not like Bucks during the rut, they will run like crazy at the first hint of danger and will go across open fields, making them easier targets). My heart started beating ferociously as the cold wind entered my eyes making them start to water, my back tensed up. I followed and with a slow steady squeeze, I dropped her with one shot.
I tagged and dressed the deer. My step dad and I process our own venison making our own sausage, cut our own steaks, loins, and grind our own burger. The meat saw, grinder and attachments my step dad bought years ago were a great investment. You can save yourself around 200 bucks a year or more depending on your harvest if you process yourself. I brought home around 150 dollars worth of meat for the price of about 50 bucks. Even if you enjoy hunting but don’t need the meat, most conservation departments work with local food kitchens to take your deer and will pay for at least half or more of the processing fee.
I can’t wait to share this experience with my son in the future. The lessons learned from hunting can be priceless. You get to spend quality time with your son or daughter, they learn firearms/weapons safety, and the responsibility that comes with hunting, from field dressing, cleaning/skinning, to processing and there are no video games involved, just you, your kid and the outdoors.