This last weekend was the general Deer Hunt here in Utah. We don’t have a huge season here like in other parts of the country so it is kind of a big deal. I haven’t been hunting for several years and I was thinking about that this weekend.
I was sitting in the rocking chair feeding my 3 1/2 month old son and I started to wonder if I was being a good parent to my kids, not getting them out and into the woods for the deer hunt. I wonder if I am slacking on my fatherly duties to teach my kids about the animals and what to do out in their environment.
I have written before about taking the kids out and teaching them to shoot, to pass along those traditions. (Part 1 and part 2)I would truly like to see them love the outdoors as much as I do. But, then there is the quandary. It is really hard to take kids out where there are people with guns. It is hard to take a 7 year old boy who is almost convinced he is a racecar (complete with actual volume sound effects) out into a place where you REALLY need to be quiet.
It is inconceivable to me to take an infant out into the cool October weather. My sister got roped into a camping trip in October with her last baby and spent a week in the hospital with him. Not pleasant. All of that being said the argument can be made for “Why don’t you go by yourself?” Here is my take on that.
The deer hunt is more than just going out and shooting at deer. There is a whole social dynamic of being in a deer camp with others. A deer camp can iconically be thought of as a group of men getting together and having a party before getting up early to hunt.
Now, there are women who hunt. There are lots of them. My Grandma was a better shot than my Grandpa, and he was damn good. My aunts shoot and hunt. Back in the day, it was necessary for food, not just sport. But they still had a good time. I am not taking anything away from women hunters, I would never try and stop a woman from being in a deer camp where I am. I wish my wife would come hunting with me.
I know anyone can enjoy the outdoors. But still, the perception is men. Men bringing their sons to the woods for rights of passage. I keep thinking I am slacking for not doing that yet. I came to realize that I am not slacking, my sons just are too little to go right now. I am impatient.
I was reading an outdoor magazine this last week and saw these 9 and 10 year old kids getting their first deer. I thought, my daughter is 10, just like this girl who was in the magazine. My daughter didn’t really care for shooting though. Ok not her, but my 7 year old can come with me and get his by 8 right? Wrong. I have spent 36 years in Utah and didn’t realize that the law says you have to be 12 to hunt here. I feel better now, I have 5 years to get him trained, and 12 to get my youngest trained. If the girls want to come, they are welcome as well.
I would live to see a time when the whole family goes out and camps, the boys heading out for deer, the girls playing around camp and all of us perfectly happy. But I have time for all of that later.
I came out of this reverie and realized that what was important right now was taking care of the kids. There really is nothing better in this world than holding an infant, your infant, in your arms until they fall asleep. They love and trust you completely. I carried him to bed and while looking in his little face I knew that this was the time to be HERE, there would be plenty of time for the woods later. I then looked across the room at his brother, and realized that I had work to do on him, but the imagination and fire of a 7 year old is nothing to put on hold. He will only be like this right now. It is something to embrace.
The woods will still be there when they get older and if we vote right, the politicians will not be able to stop us from carrying on the traditions of the past. Open warning to all bucks in Utah, I am coming, and I bring the apocalypse, errr Cameron and Tristan. Wait for us and grow big, so we can have a picture like the ones my grandparents had of their deer hunts in the ’40s. I realize that I am doing just fine, there is plenty of time.
Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will try to go fishing. They all like fishing.