HUNTING IS A FAMILY AFFAIR

How many times have you stayed fast asleep when your husband and kids quietly got ready to leave for an early morning hunt? Do you have fond memories of your son or daughter running through the house yelling, “I got a dove!” or “I got a deer!”?

It’s wonderful to hear the excitement in our kids’ voices and see the exhilaration on their faces as they tell us every minute detail of their day. However, there’s something even better than that: making memories in the field with your kids. Times are changing, Moms.

It would be impossible for me to count how many hours I spent from the time my oldest son started sports at age four until my youngest one ended his sports career at 22. That’s 18 years, y’all. Soccer, t-ball, baseball, basketball, roller hockey, track and football. While it was all wonderful and I enjoyed every minute of cheering them on, I was only a spectator – their biggest cheerleader. 

We lived in the Rio Grande Valley when my husband decided to take the boys on their first dove hunt. That was more than 20 years ago, so I don’t recall whether he actually asked me to go or I just assumed I was going. As my husband taught the boys to hunt, he taught me right alongside them. Every time I picked up a gun, the boys cheered me on. They loved it when I broke a clay or harvested a dove.

One of my favorite memories was sitting in a deer blind with my oldest. He was already in college by then, but he took on all of the qualities of his dad that morning. We sat in the freezing cold blind in silence, waiting for a deer to come into sight. We both experienced a huge adrenaline rush as we saw a beautiful eight-point walk out of the trees. That’s when he began to guide me in that slow, gentle whisper just as his daddy had guided him.

“Pick your gun up slowly. Try not to move, Mom. Get him in your crosshairs. Squeeze the trigger gently when you’re ready.” So I did… even though he wasn’t ready.
We saw the deer drop, and he immediately yelled, “You got it!” and gave me a huge high five. Then he went on to instruct further: “Now wait Mom, we need to sit here for a few minutes.” The next thing he did was get on his walkie-talkie: “Dad, Mom got one!” What a rush I got from seeing how proud my son was of me. Wow, our roles had completely reversed that morning.

We got out of the blind, walked over to the deer and my son said, “Mom, this is a good one!” as he proceeded to count the points, reminding me that if you could hang a ring on it, it counted. He set me up for a photo, making certain that it wouldn’t look gruesome.

I love being a part of what my guys do. I decided long ago that if I wanted to be with my family and not just a spectator, I’d have to do what they do – dove hunt, deer hunt, turkey hunt or wade fish. It’s all a blast! I must admit though, I’m not such a die-hard when it comes to cleaning my harvests, so I differ the gross stuff to my guys, pick up my camera and capture some of the other fun things going on.

With all of the great hunting and fishing attire out for women now, including McKenna Quinn and Wild Rose Camo, it makes it fun to be a lady in the field. You don’t have to be the best. I’ve honestly missed more dove than I’ve harvested, but what I haven’t missed is time with my family, making memories and cheering one another on.
Our family has grown in the past year and a half. The boys were insistent that they wanted to marry girls who would hunt and fish right alongside them. They were both lucky enough to fall in love with beautiful, girls who also happened to grow up being their daddy’s hunting buddies. Now, whether we’re in the field or in the bay, we’re all making memories together. You’ve heard the old saying: families who hunt together, stay together.

On a more recent fishing trip, we were all six out in the bay and it had been a pretty slow day, so we decided to fish out of the boat. I felt a tug on my line, so I set the hook and started to reel in like I had been taught. My youngest son looked over and noticed I had something on my line. He put down his pole and came over to guide me. “Keep reeling, Mom,” he said. “Oh wow, it looks like a red. Let him take it.”

Next thing you know, the fish partially appeared and it was a monster red. “Wow!” I yelled. “Did you see that?” At this point, everyone in the boat was watching my line. I saw glances from the boys to my husband. I could read their thoughts: I don’t think she’s going to be able to bring it in. However, they remained encouraging. Minutes ticked by as we went round and round the boat, my son following me with the net. I finally managed to net the fish with lots of help from the guys in my family and encouragement from the girls.

They all pulled out their phones to start snapping pictures as my youngest son helped me lift up the fish for the photos. What happened afterward, however, was the best of all. After the fish was in the ice chest, I saw my youngest son sit down with his phone. I looked over his shoulder and saw the picture of my fish and me with a text to his best friend that said, “Look what my mom caught!”

All this to say: Moms, I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Whether your kids are 4, 14 or even 24, join them on their next hunt or fishing trip and be a participant, not a spectator. You’ll make memories that will last a lifetime that you won’t want to miss for the world.

BY SUSAN THORNTON