Warning to any vegetarian followers I may have: you may want to skip today’s post it’s about my experiences with hunting.
With that being said, hunting has always been a part of my life. I was raised by hunters. Think I’m joking about the level of seriousness? My whole life I’ve heard: you can tell Britt is the unplanned one, I would never plan to have a kid during deer season. Legit statement. My birthday is November 24th and my father’s absence is pretty standard. I can’t tell you how many mornings, and how many birthdays I’ve spent dragging deer out of the woods. One lucky birthday (I believe it was my 21st) I got the honor of dragging two deer out of the woods. Not only did I get one boot stuck in the mud, but two, so that I bobbled, fell over and covered myself in mud. Good thing I’m a positive-minded person and laughed hardest at myself.
Growing up I watched my dad and brother heading out to the woods. I stood around deer with my mom, sister, dad, and brother (and once I even had my brother-in-law there) to hang deer in our garage. Being the youngest I got the job as little sister to be the deer stabilizer as my brother butchered deer. In the winter I scrunched up my nose and dragged geese and ducks back to the holler to watch my brother de-feather and cut out the breast. In the spring I did the same things with turkey. My grandparents live on a lake, so fishing was a family ritual too. My grandpa Paulin is actually in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and growing up my father had dreams of being a professional fisherman. So as you can tell lake-to-table or woods-to-table eating was standard in our household. We lived in the country. We ran outdoors. We ate family dinners together, fast food was a rarity. My dad is a bomb-ass cook, so we were raised to eat meals. It was not unlikely to find something my dad or brother had killed on the table: venison, wild turkey, goose, duck, pheasant, squirrel, rabbit, frog legs, antelope (from hunting buddies), and moose.
Three years ago I decided to join them. I told my brother and he held me accountable by buying me a bow. I actually really enjoy hunting with a bow, I enjoy the artistry. I am a bit nostalgic so I am into the romance and skill of shooting a bow compared to a gun. First thing my dad set me up my own tree stand. Note: I have a former history of height phobias. First time I climbed into it I stood there at least half an hour crying to dad and Cliff that I couldn’t get down, I literally hugged the shit out of that the tree until I took a breath, got over it and climbed down. By the end of the season I was a pro getting up and down from the tree. It was instrumental in helping me get over my fear of heights. Maybe I have a future in rock climbing next?
What do I love about hunting?
- Self-Sufficiency. There is nothing better than the feeling of providing for you and your family. The pride of knowing you can put food on the table for your family tonight. I also I am a big fan of knowing where your food comes from. I literally just saw my dinner in the field. I shot it, tracked it, field dressed, drug it, hung it, butchered it, and cooked it myself. That is POWERFUL.
- Connection. We come from hunter-gatherers. It’s a part of our ancestry. Food is a way to bring us together. It brings us together as friends, as family, as a culture. Hunting is a way I connect with my brother and dad. It is something we do together. Quality time I get to spend with them. Time with my nephews. With my grandfather. With my great-uncle. With my dad’s buddies. With my mom when she helps us drag them out of the woods. It is a tradition I get to be a part of. It creates memories and moments.
- Nature: I am a nature junkie. I love to hike, like all the time. My ideal life would be simple living in a cabin in the woods in the mountain with my family. Nature is my safe haven. I feel at home there. I feel connected. I feel whole. I feel humbled. I feel full of potential. I feel non judgment. There is nothing like hiking to my tree stand on a dark fall morning, climbing up in my tree just in time to see the sun rising over my favorite place in the world snow hill (to me places with memories and moments are more precious than any travel adventure). The silence of the woods-minus funny, loving squirrels playing in the leaves. The smell of Fall, of the woods. It’s magical. Also I find this innate intuition takes over. I know there are ways to know about movement and signs, but for me there is a gut feeling I go by. I just know when I head into the woods: today I’m not going to see anything. Or today is the day.
- The thrill of the hunt. To me hunting is like soccer. I know soccer is another example of how I’m not your typical 26-year-old American girl, soccer is my favorite sport (really the world knows what’s up since soccer is the most popular sport in the world outside of the US, fyi pumped that this is not only an Olympic year but a World Cup year. Hello Rio, I will lose my life to you in June). In soccer you often spend a lot of time waiting to score a goal, but that makes it more exciting when you finally make one.You wait for a deer to come. You listen. You watch (you’re waiting as the team passes the ball back and forth). Then you finally see one! You prepare your bow or gun (the player lines up to take a shot on goal). Finally it is broadside within, range. Fire! GOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! You fill victorious. Dinner is yours. You’ve made a clean shot.
The hunt in this video was from January. It is such a great memory, a smile lights my face just thinking about it. I was blessed to head out into the field with my dad and 4-year-old nephew Trenton, as snow began to fall around us. Trenton was so serious about his job of assistant caller and keeping snow off of the decoys. Every time dad spotted geese Trenton dove (literally he dove) into the coffin blind we were sharing. And we waited. We waited as dad called for geese. We waited for the geese to land as we snuggled with snow swirling around us. They’re coming! We pop up in time to watch dad take down 2 geese with 3 shots. Then we scurry together to head towards the geese, as Trenton struggles to carry them back to the blinds. In between flocks Trenton goes into entertainment mode. Of course he has to pee and of course he pees all over my grandfather’s calls (which you put in your mouth in case you don’t know). My favorite memory-which I wish I’d taken a picture of- is when I’m covered in the blind when Trenton yells, “Britt, I learned to ride a goose look.” I pop up just in time to see him mount a goose decoy and act like he is riding it like a horse. Hilarious. Halfway through my great-uncle Dave joins us. Two and a half hours later, covered in snow, teeth chattering, and smiling we leave the field with two geese. It was such a great day. I feel so fortunate to have these opportunities with my dad, nephew, and uncle. They make life special to me. Thank you so much to my dad for this experience. Thank you dad for raising me to appreciate being self-sufficient, for having a passion for the woods. You’re the BEST. The rest of this week’s post will feature goose.