Nothing brings out the America and hunter orange in a person more than deer firearms season. Missouri gun season opened yesterday morning with a literal bang but not on our farm. From the shots surrounding us it was obvious there were “real” deer in the vicinity but there was little to no movement on our farm. I hunted all but 90 minutes (needed to re-fuel) from sunrise to sunset and only saw four deer. Likewise Fit To Hunt team member Ryan Christopher spent the entire day in a stand on his farm 100 miles north and only had a lone turkey to entertain him throughout the hunt.
Day two started out the same with little movement. Then just like that, four antlerless deer trotted over the hill. With a bonus tag in my pocket the number one goal was to fill the freezer so with a bang, I had a phenomenal doe on the ground. I got my father and nine year-old nephew to help me drag it out. Ethan, my nephew, served as photographer and did a great job. Dad helped me load it into the John Deere Gator and off we went to field dress it and get it her on ice. This is when the lessons began.
Dad had to go feed the cows so Ethan and I took the deer below the barn to a back field to gut her. As I started working, I began to speak. Little did I realize that I might have done what so many of my mentors did for me as they drug me through the woods in my youth; I seized the teachable moment.
As Ethan held the back legs of the deer I told him how important and fortunate we were to harvest such a fine beast because this is what we will eat after the beef we purchased from dad earlier in the year ran out. I asked, “Do you like to watch deer hunting on TV?” He replied “I sure do.” I continued “so what do you think about those guys who laugh, dance around and say things like ‘I SMOKED that deer’” to which he replied “it doesn’t seem very nice.” I looked at him and asked, “is it okay to be excited and give a
high five or hug?” He said “sure.” “Of course it is son” I replied. “Just always remember this animal had to die for us to live. In fact, a little prayer thanking God for this gift isn’t a bad idea. Everything we eat has to die. Chickens, cows, fish; everything has to be harvested for us to eat so always be respectful Ethan. Get excited, take pictures and smile. Just remember to be respectful and understand you just took a life. That is a very serious thing.” I was so proud of how a little blood on his hands neither grossed him out nor offended him. When I was done dressing her, he helped me load her back into the Gator and off we went.
There are a lot of people out there who either don’t like hunting or are flat out anti-hunting and there are many of our outdoor brothers and sisters who only perpetuate negative perceptions by their actions in the field. It is important to us at Fit To Hunt that we spread the love of hunting to the youth we have the privilege of mentoring but also take time to instill back country morals in their outdoor experiences. If they grow up doing it right they will become adults who respect the sport and will help paint a positive light on what we do as hunters.
Fill the freezer with healthy, organic protein. Spend time with family and friends. If you get lucky, shoot a big buck and hang it on the wall. Just make sure that whatever you do, do it the right way and when you get the chance, seize the teachable moment and help us mentor the next generation of sportsmen and women. It’s one of the responsibilities you assumed when you joined the Fit To Hunt Tribe.
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