Family, Sports, School, & Hunting
by Zane Graham
When I first started hunting, at the age of nine, it was not hard for me to incorporate hunting with other activities: school, sports, and family. At the time, the biggest obstacle to work around was my school schedule, which was fairly easy to do. Homework was really not much of an issue being in elementary school and sports were only played during the week. I had all of my weekends free along with Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Although family would visit on the holidays, it was only for a day or so. I spent much of this time in a deer blind. However, as I got older, things changed.
It has never been much of a problem for me to incorporate hunting with family time. In fact, hunting has been a great way for me to spend time with my family, and create lasting-memories in the outdoors. Typically, my dad and I will head out to our deer lease every Friday right after school. Our deer lease, on Turk Ranch, in Terrell county, Texas is only thirty minutes away, so we easily make it out for an afternoon hunt. We hunt the entire weekend, before having to return back home for work and school on Monday.
On occasion, my mom does like to go sit in the blind with me, and watch, but usually has too much work to do at home to go hunting. As the deer season progresses on in to November and December, we get time off from work and school for the holidays. During this time, family members visit to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but most of the family lives nearby, and will leave that same day. I like having all the family together, but it is great to have plenty of time to hunt, while I have a break from school.
During the holidays, my mom and sister usually go to the lease with my dad and I to spend some time in the outdoors. My sister is very talkative. At the age of twelve, sitting in a deer blind for several hours is typically not in her best interest. My dad will take her to a blind to basically just sit and watch for deer, while my mom and I will go to a blind together and actually hunt. It is pretty neat to get the whole family out hunting because I am used to just going with my dad.
Sports on the other hand, are a little more time consuming. Thankfully I do not participate in many. I have never been the type of person to participate in all sports offered like most kids do today. In junior high school, I did play football, basketball, and run track. However, junior high sports are not near as time consuming or as important as they are at the high school level. Practices are cut short and all games/meets are held during the school week. High school sports are a completely different story. In high school, I basically just stuck with playing basketball. I played football my freshman year, but dropped it so that I could spend more time hunting in October and early November. Basketball is very time consuming and a big obstacle for finding hunting time once the season starts. Basketball season usually starts about the second week of November and will last through February or March, depending on playoffs. Practices last until around six thirty in the evening and we play two games a week on Tuesday and Friday nights. Tournaments are held on a few weekends and a couple of days during Christmas break. As you can tell, I am very busy once basketball season starts, but somehow I still find the time to be in the deer blind every opportunity I have. Although basketball takes up quite a bit of my time, I am still able to go hunting, just not as much as I would like.
School also provides an obstacle as far as hunting goes. Prior to this past year, school was not much of a big deal as far as getting in the way of my hunting time. However, this past year, my junior year, I was introduced to college classes. Our school offers dual credit college classes which we can take and get credit for college hours as well as high school credits. I took college English and history, while also taking the regular high school class of pre- calculus. This proved to be more work for me than I realized. The college classes required lots of reading and a ton of writing. I did have time in school to work on these assignments, but not nearly enough of it. I had to work on these assignments at home sometimes for a few hours. Not only did I have college homework, but my pre-calculus teacher was a firm believer of giving homework every single day, even on Fridays! Not going hunting was not an option, so I had to get my work done beforehand. I would work on my college classes during the week and do my best to be done by Friday, so I would not have to worry about it on the weekend. If I had to, I would take my pre-calculus homework with me to the ranch, and work on it during the middle of the day.
Being the hunting fanatic that I am, I love looking through trail-camera pictures of the deer on the ranch every single day. Of course school work comes first, but once I get it knocked out, I am on the computer studying pictures. I like to look through the pictures, and, if there is a buck that excites me, then I will study it a little closer. Usually, I first try to determine his age and then score his antlers based on the picture. Studying these pictures helps me determine what buck I want to hunt and where I need to hunt him.
There are many time consuming activities which provide road blocks for hunting time. During deer season, I have to do my best to balance my time and take advantage of every opportunity I have to be in the field! I find it important to make time for hunting because it was been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. There is nothing I would rather be doing than hunting whitetails. I make time for hunting because I love being in the outdoors and seeing the different types of wildlife.
Typically I hunt out of a blind where I sit and watch for deer, but many times I see different varieties of wildlife while in the blind. It is very interesting to me to watch the deer and see how they interact and go about their business. The sensational feeling of releasing an arrow or bullet and seeing it connect with the vitals of a deer is what drives me. There is absolutely no word or phrase to describe that feeling, and nothing in the world like it. The adrenaline rush and the nerves that overtake the body give me the best feeling in the world. It is the excitement and learning experience from the hunt that makes me want to be in the deer blind every opportunity possible. The experience of hunting western whitetails is what propels me to incorporate hunting time into my busy life.