huntingAs many of you know, my hunting has long been a family affair. Begun early in life with my father, my early hunting “career” involved several uncles and one aunt. And though I have no children of my own, I enjoy hunting with friends’ and relatives’ offspring. Through all of that, I have seen how hunting helps form strong family bonds, the likes of which are not often found elsewhere.

From my father, I learned how to respect guns… those powerful, simple machines that can end a life. I learned to respect him as well – through the manly pursuit of hunting.

Now – before I start getting hate mail from all of you enlightened ladies who hunt – let me make myself clear. Hunting is indeed a manly pursuit, in my opinion. Men have long been the foremost participants in the activity of hunting, and there’s something about it that simply oozes testosterone. But that in no way takes away from women who hunt – not in the least.

As I said above, one of my earliest hunt-camp companions was an aunt – my Aunt Dee, as a matter of fact. She didn’t hunt as hard or as often as the men in our camp, but she was out there doing it whenever the urge struck. And that’s great – I applaud it. Male or female, folks should be out there in the woods hunting, as often as they like, if that’s what they enjoy.

Moms and dads taking their kids to the woods and hunting together – that’s good stuff. A few months ago, I was in on one mom’s kids’ first kills, and it was great! She enjoyed it just about as much as they did, I believe, and I know she would recommend the same to other mothers. In fact, I have seen her on videotape, doing just that!

I have also been there for others’ first kills, and it is always an amazing experience. I love to take young folks squirrel hunting… in that way I can feel something of what my father felt when I first started hunting. The pride and thrill of watching a young person’s face light up and their whole body and being reflect the way they feel at that moment when they first connect with their prey – and helping them to achieve that feeling – is, in a word, wonderful.

Something over a decade ago (how can it really have been that long?), my father and I enjoyed a double-header in the deer woods. I bagged a six-point whitetail buck in the morning (my first muzzleloader buck), and he shot a three-pointer that evening. It was a day like no other – a great day in the woods, a great day between father and son – a wonderful, happy,and thoroughly memorable day that helped solidify already-strong family bonds.

Get out there and hunt. And if possible, do it with your family.

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