Walking out to the stand early in the morning after a light snow is one of the most relaxing things on the planet. Everything is dead quiet, a few flurries hit the ground as you try to muffle the crunch of each step. You gaze around in hopes of seeing an early 30 point buck as you creep along, making your way to the blind. Excited for your future cup of coffee and granola bar you settle in and start waiting.
Many people have a lot of assumptions about hunting and some even want to limit gun use to hunting alone, but the reality is hunting is far more important than either of those things. And so is owning guns. Gun ownership is not about hunting, rather about protecting ones self, and family. Hunting however, is a skill set, a hobby, and a life lesson all in one. Going out on your first hunt as a young boy is exciting. For years you watched your dad load up his gear and guns and head out for the week or weekend.
As you got older you started shooting guns, learning safety, and shown how to care and maintain your firearms. All of these are very important skills for a young man to learn. Safety alone can prevent any bad situation and even situations where another child were to find a firearm your son would know how to handle the situation. Caring and maintaining a firearm is another skill that requires dedication and patience. It’s fun to go out shooting but remembering to clean your gear down is crucial to giving yourself that ability on the next outing.
When it comes to the hunt itself, there is something deep down in the soul of every man that tells him to hunt. There is a drive and need to fulfill this and it’s obvious by the excitement and what you actually get from hunting. Meat! Real food! A hobby that provides something of great importance. Something that you do over a thousand times a year! (3 meals a day logic).
I still remember the first buck I shot. The story, the excitement, and the memory. My dad and I had just got out to the stand and I sparked up a bowl as we warmed up the heater. Unloading our gear and loading our rifles he began scanning the horizon with his binoculars while I was messing around with gear. It was a slow morning and there wasn’t much going on. A few does ran through but nothing of excitement. We were both sitting in our chairs when I saw something moving in the bushes. Then I saw legs!
I knew it was a deer, and it seemed big. We slowly opened the windows and prepped our rifles in hopes of a big buck. As he walked out from behind the trees it became apparent, he was a nice buck. I lined up my scope but had no shot. I waited a moment and told my dad to take the shot because I didn’t have one. He followed up with an okay and got ready to make the shot.
Right then the buck started to move, ever so slowly checking the wind for a scent, scanning the horizon for any movement. I had the shot. I still remember looking down the scope and saying, “fuck it, who cares who shoots it, that’s a lot of meat” and I pulled the trigger. Instantly after I shot my dad shoots as well, jumping in surprise as my rifle let out .270 round.
We both looked down range to see the after math of our firing squad. The buck was standing there. Frozen. Staring in confusion as well. Not sure what had happened. I looked down my scope, thinking we both had missed in the confusion. I took one more shot and this time he ran off. We scanned, but couldn’t find him anywhere so we decided to get down.
Finding blood we knew there was a hit. So we tracked it all over and couldn’t find anything. As we came back to the shot spot we found him laying not more than 5 meters away in some tall grass. He had one entrance wound, and two exit wounds. To this day we don’t know if it was both of our shots hitting the same location or my two shots hitting the same location, in theory though, it would make sense to have two exits if we shot from different locations. Only God knows.
I still remember the rush of firing that shot. The second shot. Getting down to find it and seeing how beautiful and big this animal was. He would be taken full advantage of not only physically as meat, but mentally as a life lesson. This taught me as a boy, how to over come that moment, and make a decision to do something that would have direct impact on my well being. It showed me that it was possible to do something real in the world and get something real in return. If I take the time to hunt an animal I have food. If I take the time to plant seeds I have food. If I take the time to do something real, I get something real in return. This experience opened a lot of doors I never quite understood until now.
To be in that moment, to overcome the anxiety and excitement, to slow down your breathing and slowly finger that trigger. To clean and butcher your own food. The best part is the tenderloins in camp. Everyone enjoys one of the best possible meals as we share stories about life and manhood. Hunting is far bigger than guns or glory. It’s about growing up, it’s about learning and understanding how the world really works, how fragile life is, and how dangerous people can be with the right tools. It’s a reality check that guns are not toys, that I can go out and live my own life, while also creating a place for men to be men and do what we want. Robbing a boy of this is not to rob him of shooting bang sticks, but rather of his balls and man hood itself.