By: Kirstie Pike
CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women
As all of us who have hunting families know, getting your kids hooked on hunting early is the key to a life- long passion. How many hunting seasons have we all encountered where the kids are the first ones popping out of bed, chattering in the truck and getting amped up on typically ‘outlawed’ snacks?
As our kids grow older, life starts to get in the way of the previously sacred hunting seasons. High school sports no longer recognize that missing school to go hunting is not really considered a family emergency. And why is it that Homecoming is ALWAYS during hunting season. Scholastics? Sheesh, apparently the National Honor Society does not view “a brief illness resulting it missing a few days of school” during hunting season as reasonable. What’s a kid to do? At the end of the day, as kids get older, the hunting seasons get shorter to accommodate the demands of high school life.
Then comes college. Now the debate starts. Do we put the girls in for tags or points? Can they get time off to come hunting? Do we burn points in hopes that they can make it home for a couple of days? Will they be able to continue hunting as their lives pick up steam and propel them in different directions?
This year, we debated heavily over what to do with both of our daughters with regards to putting in for licenses. Both were attending college in state, but not close enough to make a trip home easy. Our oldest daughter was tied down with school and two jobs and we knew it would be unlikely that she could get enough time off to hunt. We gambled on our youngest and put in for her buck tag.
As the season drew closer, she was able to make a brief trip home to help scout for muleys. Keeping in mind that school is located four hours away. The distance of the trip, coupled with the scholastic demands of her engineering program made it clear to all of us that it was going to be difficult to do much scouting.
The week before the season opened, it became clear that not only was she not going to be able to make it home on opening weekend due to a heavy school load. She wasn’t going to be able to come home until late on Thursday night on the closing weekend. This quite literally left about two days of hunting. We were all feeling a bit disheartened at this but decided to make it happen. Did we make a mistake by trying to push the season? Should we have elected not to burn her points? The real issue brewing in our minds was centered around the fact that we knew our family hunting adventures were most likely changed forever.
We hit it early on Friday morning on closing weekend. We spotted a number of bucks but none of which were what she was after. At the close of the day, she passed on three decent bucks. She was happy with her choices and really wanted to hold out for a larger buck. We headed home and knew that she only had one day left to hunt as she had to head back to school on Sunday.
We hit it early again on Saturday. The bucks were definitely moving, and again, we encountered a number of nice bucks. However, none of them were what Haydyn had in mind. Unspoken to her, her father and I were worried she would come up short for the season and we were hoping beyond hope that we could encounter the buck she wanted. We knew this would be extremely unlikely, and Haydyn was fine with that. It just takes time, and time was the one thing we did not have this year.
As the morning drew on, she passed on two bucks that would have made most hunters quite happy. Then it happened. A nice 170+ inch buck worked his way into a clearing about 350 yards away. This was the one! Well, we thought. She sat back and considered this buck for a while trying to decide if he was the one for her. This really did feel like dog years between the time she saw this buck to the time she decided to pursue him. She made the move and he drew a bit closer. She leveled off her shot at 285 yards and dropped him immediately. We were thrilled!
She got her buck. To her credit, she never settled on anything less than what she wanted, even though she knew her time was limited and the potential for success was unlikely. She was thrilled. And we were proud. Not because she was able to get her buck, but because she had grown into a mature hunter who realized she didn’t want to feel pressured to take an animal she didn’t want because she felt pressed for time.
By the way…that buck turned out to be a 178” buck.
We got home that night and took care of her buck. She packed up and left early in the morning. We have no idea what the next few hunting seasons will bring with our kids. What we do know is this, these kids will be hunters for life.