This season I have the opportunity to introduce two newcomers to the world of hunting.
It’s exciting but nerve-wracking – I’ve read far too many stories about how often one bad experience can ruin a potential recruit from becoming a lifelong hunter.
I want my wife and my son to be as excited as I am, but it can be hard to explain why waking up before dawn, freezing and staying silent for long periods is my preferred way to spend many a fall and winter day.
So I look to how my father got me excited.
First of all, he’s actually a bigger hunter now than he was at the time, so fewer hunts then made each one seem more of a big deal. So while I may be OK hunting days on end and think of it every weekend, I’m not dragging them along with me every time.
Second, he introduced me gradually. First, I simply followed alongside on a pheasant hunt, marveling at how the guide worked the dogs. The next time I brought my shotgun unloaded, only shooting it after the fact for an impromptu trap competition. Not until I had respect for the process and understood the deadly power of the firearm I was carrying was I allowed to take aim and fire at an animal.
Also, as with fishing, my father instilled in me the joy of the activity, not simply in the need for success. I can recall times spent in a goose blind when a goose never came within 1,000 feet and think of the great breakfast burritos we ate while watching the sun rise over a frozen pond in Colorado. I have a deep respect for starlings after watching them ball up and fly in synchronization over a Torrington corn field, and love the sound of the world stirring on a fall morning in the woods, eyes wide looking for signs of antlers.
In truth I’ve got a head start with both my wife and son. Last year my wife and I roamed the woods west of Douglas looking for turkeys, which we saw right up until we reached public land. She had a blast despite not firing her shotgun, and I felt quite accomplished.
The past few years my son has joined my father, brother, a friend and me in a goose blind, chastising us for not paying attention when geese are closing in. My son is deadly serious about hunting even though he only just got a shotgun for his birthday.
Of course, you can only enjoy the other aspects of hunting so long before you need a first harvest, so that is my goal this year for the new hunters in the family. I’m going to cast my net wide and try to ensure after luring in two new hunters, I can set the hook with some successful hunts.
If I can combine the thrill of the chase with the success of a dinner spitting BBs, hopefully I can take at least some credit, along with my dad, for creating two new Wyoming hunters.