Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Next Generation of Hunters

By Emily Edwards
Huntress View Team Member

I was recently asked, “Do your children go hunting with you?” I answered, “Well of course they do!” It was then that it dawned on me, not everyone takes their children into the woods with them. In my family, it’s the norm these days.

First, let me give you some background on me. I was raised in Boiling Springs, NC by two of the most AMAZING parents I could’ve asked for. They both worked in animal research at the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh before we moved. By then, they had one thing on their minds and that was essentially collecting every stray that walked through our yard. We had our own mini-farm growing up. My sister and I lived in the woods behind our old farmhouse, studying deer prints and hearing bobcats yell throughout the woods. We loved growing up there. We were taught to fish at a young age (always catch and release) and the respect of animals and nature. It wasn’t that my parents were anti-hunting, they just didn’t do it. Nobody in my family did. It wasn’t until I met my now husband, that I was introduced to this wonderful world of harvesting your own food. 

I’ve learned everything I know (I’m still learning by the way!) from him and his family. He grew up in the woods hunting with his father and uncle. To me, it only seemed natural to start our children out at a young age in the woods as well. I wanted it to be second nature to them. We’re a blended family, with the two youngest being Trinity who is 15, and Jackson who is 8. They have both been hunting since they were 3.

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies with children in the woods though, as I’m sure any parent could relate in this case. Yes, they will make noise. Yes, they will get bored. Yes, they will ask to go home. Yes, they will in fact, at some point, scare off the game you’re trying to harvest. That’s the point of it all though, to pass down what we’ve all learned over the course of our journeys as hunters.

Our children are our future. If we enjoy the endless preparation, time and effort to finally harvest that deer, constantly checking trail cameras to figure out which ones you want the most then why wouldn’t the very ones who look up to us every day want the same? I’m not saying our children don’t enjoy watching TV or video games, because they do.  What children don’t? We try to open their world to more than a screen as often as possible.

I know I’m technically still a “new hunter”, and I try to soak in EVERY bit of advice, information and techniques I can every day. Our children are constantly asking questions and wanting to learn. Trinity will be by herself in a stand for the first time this year, and to say she is excited would be a major understatement. It’s like a big exam she’s cramming for. She wants to make us proud, and to make herself proud and feel like she is growing as a hunter. They’re like sponges when you bring them out into the woods, trail cams or anything dealing with the upcoming hunting season. When my husband harvested his New Year’s Day doe last year, Trinity and Jackson were outside with him until 11:00 PM, watching every move he made and asking questions about every single body part and cut he made and why he made it. Most parents would be appalled. To us, however, it means we’re doing something right if they love it with equal passion and eagerness that we’ve come accustomed to for ourselves. They are the next generation of conservationists, hunters, gatherers, harvesters, anglers and so much more for our countrywide and worldwide hunting community we’ve all come to adore.  

My personal advice to anyone who is thinking of taking their children hunting…patience. You are patient for the right deer, elk, bear or whatever game you’re hunting to come along…extend the same to your children. Ensure that our future is protected, that our lands are managed properly and conserved for many generations to come. Every single hunter or huntress in this country has a stake in our fight. Not all have children, but for those of us who do, let’s even out these odds and get a kick start on this future that’s coming at full speed!

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