Trophy Hunter to Trophy Teacher
I love to Hunt and have done from a very young age. It is one of my greatest passions, to be out in nature testing my skills and knowledge against the skills and knowledge of my pray. There is something very rewarding about the experience, even when you don’t come home “Successful”
I remember as a little boy following in the footsteps of my father as we hiked the mountains of Southern Utah. Trying, but not succeeding very well, to step exactly where he did so we didn’t make noise. Stopping, not soon enough most the time, when he stopped to listen. I also remember when we would set at a great vantage point and watch the surrounding hill for what seemed like hours. I would get impatient and want to go and hike, and dad would say “patience”. Undoubtedly we would finally see the deer that someone else that had been hiking pushed to us.
Later in life I became old enough to become the hunter. I got to pack my own rifle and choose what I did while hunting. I took many of the lessons I learned early in my hunting day from my father, and implemented them into my own hunting style. As I grew in both stature and knowledge I continued to improve my hunting style. I got to the point that I felt very confident in my knowledge and abilities. I became a “Trophy Hunter”. I spent many years before and after I got married hunting this way, Big country with big animals. Eating tags, more tags then I filled, just to try for a chance at the Big Boys!!! You know the “Trophy Hunter” mentality. I truly enjoyed my days as a “Trophy Hunter”.
Now many years later, as a father of 7 (6 of which are boys) I have turned from the “Trophy Hunter” to the “Trophy Teacher”. It did not happen all at once, it was a slow process. My first son got old enough to go with me and for a couple years it was just him and me. Then we added his little brother to our group. Now after 20 years of marriage we are up to 4 sons that go out and tromp the hills together. I have caught myself saying some of the same things I heard my father say to me. “You have to hold still”, “Keep the wind in your face”, “Don’t skyline yourself”, “Patients” and most frequently “Be quiet, stop talking” LOL. I realize that I have a wealth of Knowledge to share with my boys and I must share it.
Here are some things I have learned making the transition from “Trophy Hunter to Trophy Teacher”.
1- Trophy Hunter I am NOT (Currently). For a few years now (I guess since my oldest son started to hunt with me as a little boy) I have had to put away the idea that I am a Trophy Hunter. Yes technically, I am still a trophy hunter, but with young kids tagging along on the hunt your chances go down dramatically. I have come to realize that taking an animal, whether or not it’s the biggest on the mountain, is always more fun and exciting for my boys, then going home empty handed. You are hunting to teach your kids, and not for the all elusive Ghost Buck. You have to concede, for a while you may not kill a giant in your book, but to a young kid, a forky IS a giant.
2- Make sure to have fun. Think of things you can do to make sure your young ones are having a good time while hunting. We like to play “guess the yardage” while out bow hunting and things are slow. Range find different objects and see who can get the closest guess. It is hard for little kids (and even some teenagers) to hold still. Don’t set to long in one place, they will get bored and wiggly. At the same time you want to teach them patients (like my father did with me), but try not to set all day in the tree stand or on a water hole. We like to watch Hunting videos in the off season. Try to guess the score of the animals and see what you come up with. Hunting magazines are a great source as well because most the time they give a score in their article. Cover the score up and see how close they can guess, you too for that matter. When it is dead in the wood and no activity is going on, don’t be afraid to take out that bugle or cow call and teach them how to use it. They love making noise and now Dad is doing it right alongside them. Make sure to have fun with them and keep them interested in hunting.
3- Don’t get frustrated. This is one of my hardest things to get over. My boys (Like most typical boys) are very active. They cannot hold still, or be quiet for that matter. It is important to teach them how to be quiet and to hold still but you have to hold your frustrations when they forget, and they do that a lot. Them being quiet and holding still for 10 minutes is like you going to work for 20 hours a day. It’s KILLER!! LOL Be patient with them and keep a smile on your face even when you have to remind them 100 times a day to stop talking.
4- Teach them how to love the Outdoors. There is no guarantee that your kids will all grow up to be hunters (and love it as much as you). You can still teach them to love the outdoors and enjoy being out with family and friends. To respect the beauty of nature and to help keep it that way. We always have a camp cleanup time as we put camp down. It doesn’t matter if it is 10 miles back into the wilderness or at an organized campground. We leave it better then we found it. As we walk trails while hunting we take the time to bend over and clean up others trash. Teach your kids take care of the outdoors and they will grow to have a great respect for them.
These are some of the things I have learned over the years as I have transitioned from Trophy Hunter to Trophy Teacher. One day I will return to the High Mountain Peaks and Basins in search of the Trophy animal I so love. When that time comes I will have my boys by my side as they have grown into their own “Trophy Hunter.” I understand that currently I am a Trophy Teacher (I teach, and my children are my Trophies) and this is a very important part of the cycle of a “True Trophy Hunter”
Here is a copy of this article in the Mule Deer Foundation Magazine.