Growing up, I lived with my dad. Naturally, because my dad didn't have any sons, I became the closest thing he had to one. We would fish, four-wheel, hang out in his shop, and hunt together. Although seen as something unconventional for girls, hunting was something that I admittedly became proficient in. Sport hunting, to be exact. It was also something that integrated itself into the majority of my childhood and has since then taught me many things about the world.
Like any other hunter, I went through a hunter safety course - a very long and tedious one at that. From then, my dad would take my dog and me out to the fields with him where we would spend hours hunting various types of animals. Eventually, my dad trained me to become the primary hunter of us - the one who literally calls all the shots and does the bulk of the work. This lifestyle became so ingrained in me that I even prided myself in claiming a few of our prized shotguns as my own. This activity we shared together not only created lasting memories but lasting lessons as well.
The early bird gets the worm - and vice versa
Unfortunately for hunters, the sport is relentless when it comes to timing. More often than not, hunters willingly place themselves in harsh climates for extended periods of time to secure the catch of the day at very early times in the morning. Being a 10-year-old girl this was something I was never happy about. At the same time though, the importance of waking up early to be successful in the sport taught me a great deal about how waking up early relates to success in many other areas of life. Being alert and ready for anything prepares you for even the most unexpected events. Not to mention, the sunrises are stellar.
Girls can do anything guys can do - even better sometimes
I'm sure all the older men we hunted with got a kick out of seeing a 10-year-old girl holding a few dead pheasants and a shotgun twice her size. However, through a lot of target and field practice, I eventually became very proficient, accurate and safe with a gun. Even outshining my male counterparts at times. Several women told me how inspiring it was to see a young female in a male-dominated sport proving her worth, and this pride has carried over into other aspects of my own life.
You can never be too cautious
When it comes to getting dressed, loading the guns, and being out in the field, slow and steady wins the race every time. My dad taught me that a gun is a tool, and like any tool, a gun can malfunction. It's important to take cautious measures to ensure the safety of yourself, your dog, and other hunters around you, and this is the most imperative aspect of the sport. At the same time, lots of movement, noise or rowdy behavior can scare off prey and essentially mess up the plans of your day. For this reason, there are many important rules that hunters must follow in order to ensure they are not hurting themselves or the land they are hunting on.
Patience is key
Patience goes hand in hand with being steady. A lot of hunting is really just waiting around in the cold for something to happen. Naturally, these conditions lead to hunters feeling frustrated, defeated and even bored. Nonetheless, though, being patient is always worth the adrenaline rush that comes with the explosion from the barrel. Patience is key in every facet of life, and good things come to those who wait.
Humankind is losing touch with nature at an alarming rate
The number of misconceptions, controversies, and fake news surrounding the sport of hunting are too overwhelming to debunk. Most of the time they are spoken out of ignorance as well. But from years of experience, I can honestly say that hunting has taught me more about nature than any biology class ever has. You learn to read the signs that the earth, water, air, and animals are trying to show you. You also learn about the imperativeness of trying to save it all in a time when our planet is being threatened. Through this, I have learned truly how out of touch we are with our own planet, and how important it is to start acting now.
Although my days of hunting are long since over, these lessons have stuck with me all the while. Since my days of hunting have ended, I have stopped eating meat and dairy and consequently become an animal rights activist. Ironic, I know. I pride myself in being able to see both sides of the spectrum though. Hunting is a dying art and lifestyle for many people, and it is also very helpful to our Earth and the beings that live on it. There is beauty in destruction, so they say, and more beauty than I can name in the true essence of how life is created and destroyed. More often than not, all hunters are all animal lovers and lovers of our Earth too. It is this sport, however, that has taught me the most about what it means to be alive.