column By: Lee J. Hoots | January, 18
In grade school I had a difficult time concentrating on anything except the girls in my homeroom class and my duty to the rest of my Little League team, for which I usually played third base. I let the girls at school know why my elbows were often skinned up on Monday mornings – diving after line drives during weekend games, a few of which were satisfyingly shagged from the air. Admittedly, I was sweet on some of those schoolgirls, but I took baseball very seriously.
Two activities I took more seriously were fishing and hunting, especially the latter, but there seemed little reason to brag about that, probably due to having spent most of my time afield with my father, who was not the type to brag about anything. He taught me ethics, woodsmanship, gun safety and how to shoot.
I took to hunting and the sporting life naturally, I suppose, and was probably a model student – unlike in grade school – of the kind any parent or mentor would love to teach and expose to something new and worthwhile. Even when there appeared to be no game, there was always hope that a buck or a covey of chukar would eventually be found over the next windy ridgeline; the slow days were never a deterrent to dreaming.
Looking back, it seems obvious that I took hunting far more seriously than my father ever did, but he kindly obliged and what I learned from a gentle man, on both good days and bad, has long since stuck with me: Hunting is not all about filling a deer tag or “limiting out,” a term I become more uncomfortable with as time goes on. Hunting is about being outdoors and enjoying the people you are with, especially family. Success is secondary.
Not all children take hunting quite as seriously as I did. In this issue is a heartfelt story written by Jason Brooks, who recalls how his two boys are progressing as sportsmen in two very different ways – and not exactly how he expected. When Jason and I first talked about publishing it, I was skeptical and somewhat unenthusiastic, uncertain that readers would enjoy it. A little soul searching eventually changed my mind.
Not every grandkid, son or daughter will immediately become smitten with hunting. As adults who hunt, it would appear very natural that our offspring would follow in our footsteps, especially if they are brought into the fold early on. Having three children of my own, however, it has become somewhat distressingly apparent that there is no guarantee they will take hunting seriously, and reasons vary.
It would be easy to blame all the modern distractions young people face these days, but that would be a little misleading. Truth to tell, childhood distractions – even those of young adults – are nothing new. They’re only different than those we older hunters faced in our youth. Yet as hunters who love and enjoy what we do, we expose our children to our passion at as young an age as seems appropriate, and we do it as often as possible. I have grudgingly come to recognize that children will find their own way. They may become hunters – some very serious – or they may not.
My oldest son, for example, is a talented guitar player, has a band, and is far more interested in music and trying to figure out where he may end up at college in the next year or so. He currently has no great interest in hunting, and I can’t blame him for spending his time accordingly. I dearly miss his company when his younger brother and I head off into the woods, but he’s becoming his own man – avid hunter or otherwise. What more could a parent hope for?