Make the Transition
by Colton Choate, Juniors-Only Editor
Hunting is about spending time with your family. Like many, my father introduced me to hunting. When hunting or scouting with my father, we share an unbreakable bond that grows every time we spend a day together in the woods. Hunting as a young child, with a parent, is much more of a guided hunt experience. The hunt is more than just the adventure; you are learning valuable knowledge from a family member or role model in your life. Thankfully, I have many role models in my life that have taught me about hunting.
The Early Years
The first harvest I experienced was with my father when he took a mature whitetail buck in Texas. From that, I learned a little about the field-dressing process. The first animal I harvested was a cow elk, while hunting with my uncle and grandpa. Although my dad was not there to witness my success first-hand, he showed up later that afternoon to help quarter and pack it out. That day, I took away a bunch of valuable information about hunting from three men with several years of hunting experience combined. Additionally, I look up to my brother, who doesn’t hunt as much as I do, but has taught me a lot including how to be patient.
The general idea of what I was taught was that hunting is never a 100% successful sport. Sometimes you fail, sometimes you succeed; and all of the time, it’s about the time well spent with people you care about. It’s about learning what is ethical, what is right, and learning to become an ethical young hunter. Hunting is a privilege, which may be taken away, if unethical hunters ever outnumber ethical hunters. Knowing how to hunt right comes from hunting with a role model over several hunts and years. Listening to your parents or family member or whoever it is that taught you how to hunt is crucial to the learning process. The moments I have spent listening to and learning from my dad about how to be the best sportsman I can has prepared me to become a better hunter, while hunting without supervision. Additionally, the tips from hunting will apply to all sorts of things in life too.
The Here and Now
Now that I am 16 and have my driver’s license, I have seen a change in my hunting career. I suddenly see myself drifting away from going to the woods with only my dad. I have friends who share the same passion for hunting as me. Although I still hunt with my dad and other family members, I now hunt more often with my friends. This year, while hunting with my good friend, Bennett Boggess, we had a great time. Hunting with a friend is exciting because you get to talk more about current events, and mess around a little bit. But, when an animal is spotted, it’s down to business. How you handle the “business” depends on how you utilize the knowledge that was handed down to you from whoever was your hunting mentor(s).
Hunting with several friends this year, I was able to stalk within 17 yards, 24 yards, and 40 yards from three different bucks. I was never presented a shot, and I did not harvest a deer with my bow during the 2013 Arizona archery deer season. However, the knowledge handed down to me by many, including my father helped me on the stalks. Without them, I may not have known a location to hunt, where to find deer, and how to stalk properly. However, I listened as a young hunter, and it benefitted me this first year, while hunting with friends. Hunting alone is definitely something I am still learning about, but I am excited to learn more about myself, the wilderness, and to become more educated about the wildlife I pursue.
Without my dad and family, I would be absolutely clueless in the forest. I’ve learned from many different people in my life. I’ve only killed animals with my uncle and father, but that doesn’t mean those are the only two people who taught me. All of my sportsman role models motivate me to be a better hunter, an ethical hunter, and to search harder in my pursuit for an animal I want to harvest. As you make the transition, remember to listen to your hunting role model no matter what, whether it’s your father, mother, uncle, sibling or another. They will most likely provide you with the information you need to know to get you on your way.
Remember, hunting isn’t all about harvesting animals; it’s about spending time with the people you love most and doing your best to be successful. If you harvest what you’re after, then congratulations! If you don’t, then it’s all just part of the game. No one will come out successful on each hunt they go on, it’s not humanly possible. But I will assure you one thing, listening to the person who takes you hunting as a child will always improve your chances at success, now and later in life.
My ability to be a successful hunter on my own is extremely dependent on what the person above me taught me. I am excited that one day, having become an adult hunter myself, I will be able to hand down my knowledge about hunting to my kids. The passion of hunting in my family has been passed down by a few generations, and hopefully I can pass it down to the next generation and help in the making of a growing population of ethical hunters.
My advice to you is, be ethical, do what’s right even when you know nobody is looking, hunt hard, and enjoy every moment of it. Good luck on your next hunt whether it’s with a family member or your first time on your own! WW