Monday, June 15, 2009

Alone in the Woods

A number of years ago, I would have said that Hunting is My time. I never really thought that my children would become involved as much as they have. See, I have two beautiful daughters, I figured they’d never want to hunt with their dad. I figured I’d grow old hunting by myself, filling that “missing” spot with my hunting buddies and their boys on occasion. I’ve found over the years that I really don’t like hunting alone. I like having someone to share stories with and spend time enjoying the secrets of the outdoors with. When you’re sitting in blind or in a tree stand, when you’re stalking or walking a fence row, there’s all sorts of wonders going on around you. Things you’ll enjoy seeing or hearing but never dwelling on long yet become a part of who you are. Things you’d enjoy pointing out to your child or your hunting buddy. I have never been in the woods or fields were something did not catch my attention with wonder. I’ve felt that those wonders were lost in the thoughts of just one…what a blessing that I was wrong.

Now, don’t misunderstand me… I would never be disappointed if my girls just liked to shoot targets. I’d even understand if they didn’t want to shoot at all. I’d never force them to do something they really don’t have an interest in. Everyone "just knows" that boys will follow their dads into hunting, trying to be just like him… but girls? I’ll be honest, I’ve thought a few times of what it would be like to have a son… Then I think of how blessed I am to have the daughters I have. I wouldn’t trade them for the world and I don’t want them to be “boys”. They just need to be themselves.

My oldest seems to just like to target shoot and I respect her for that. I think she goes hunting with me just to spend time with her dad, and I love her for that. She’s in college now and our time together is very limited, I’m trying to make those times as cherished as possible. Soon, she’ll really be on her own and time with Dad may be a fleeting thing…never caught and rarely seen… I’ll cherish those times together even more.

My youngest shows a genuine interest in hunting. I’ve tried to make sure she understands what it means to harvest an animal. I’ve had her research how to clean and skin squirrels to see how she reacts and I’ve involved her with processing the animals I’ve taken so she can experience the “other” side of hunting. Most of all, I’ve tried to teach her about Respect. Respect for the outdoors and Respect for the animals we hunt. I’ve not been disappointed, she shows a genuine maturity many would be surprised to see and many others never achieve.

I’ve learned a few things too. Patience is one. Explaining about sitting quiet and moving slowly was a tough one. About, paying attention and using your senses. Patience has been a teacher to me. I struggled at first but have since graduated and now, Patience is another tool this ol’hunter uses like a well worn knife or a comfortable pair of boots. Pride is something I’ve learned more about. I used to think that pride in my children was for doing good in school or winning a competition. Now I know that Pride is watching my girls Respect the outdoors and the animals that live there. Pride is watching my girls enjoy, really enjoy the time spent exploring the wonders they see and hear. Pride is watching them grow and learn. Pride will stay in my breast pocket were it’s easy to get to, bring out and show. I’ve learned about communication. Communicating with a child needs to change and grow just like her. Understanding how that communication works lets you bond even closer. Communicating is more than just a 2-way road, it’s a stream, a river, an ocean. It’s everything that moves between us. It can move us further away or it can bring us closer. Having a child does not teach you about communication, your child teaches you. It’s a lesson you can not afford to miss for it’s the building blocks of everything else you learn. And the foundation for communication is Love. I love my girls and I know they love me back.

Now, even if it’s just My time, I’ll never be alone in the woods.