I was blessed to have two mentors in my hunting life. Both taught me that hunting was more than killing things, it was the sport and the pursuit that was the real adventure. It's also about spending time with nature, and having too much fun with a group of (usually) guys. At A&M we called it "Good Bull," but most of my clients would probably call it "Bullshit."
I have felt it was my duty to pass this on to the next generation. All of it. The love of the sport, the importance of conservation and all the good bull discussed in the field.
Hunting is a primeval urge that dates back to the hunter-gatherer age where people had to hunt or they wouldn't eat. It is in the human DNA. Contrary to the non-hunting crowd's thought pattern, people kill to be able to hunt, not hunt so they can kill. If killing is your only goal, you will soon be bored and will find something else to do.
Passing on hunting to the next generation of hunters is not difficult. Genetics dictate that people want to hunt. The difficult part is to get to the young before they are taught bad habits.
Hunting is conservation. The work that hunters do helps keep the wildlife populations in balance; it ensures bio diversity. A substantial amount of funding for fish and wildlife departments comes from the state through the sale of hunting/fishing licenses, game tags, stamps, and excise taxes from the purchase of hunting equipment and ammunition, which collects around $200 million annually.
Hunting is also about bonding time with people. It brings me a lot of joy when I see moms and dads bring their children hunting with them. I too have been able to take my girls bird hunting. When they were young, they loved it. They could explore and be part of nature. However, as they got older, it became something they didn't enjoy as much. Waking up at 4 a.m. was not my daughters' idea of fun in their teenage years. I did however, start taking their boyfriends. I took the young men hunting, which gave me the opportunity to become friends with them. Some I'm still friends with today.
You can't help but become friends with a teenager who just wants to know how to hunt. I've given back in my own way and mentored many of these young men. My youngest daughter had three different boyfriends who loved to go hunting with me. I would entertain them, teach them the ropes, give them some good jokes they couldn't repeat. These boys would come along, put out all the spread, and then fall asleep the rest of the hunt. You really can't beat that type of a labor as a guide.
Now that my children are older, they have blessed me with grandchildren. I get to spend quite a bit of time with my grandchildren in the field. When they get to be about five years old, they get to start tagging along. Being with them while hunting is much more fun. Somehow helping raise grandchildren is just better than raising your own.
We at Third Coast Outfitters are dedicated to teaching our youth safe, ethical hunting. We have always had a policy for kids under the age of 16 to hunt free with their parent. We encourage parents to bring their kids on a hunting trip to experience seeking and bagging game in a responsible and humane way.
We also partner with state wildlife and fisheries services to participate in the youth hunting weekend. This year, we are very excited to be working with the Arkansas Game & Fish Department to take ten young people goose hunting on Saturday, Dec. 2. There, they will learn about gun safety, wildlife conservation and the Game Warden will be present to explain their job and the laws of hunting. It is an event in which we love to be a part. Sharing the love of hunting and potentially mentoring a new generation of hunters is, and will always be, a personal passion of mine.
My mentors gave me a wonderful gift, showing me about conservation and hunting. It has informed my pursuit of hunting ever since.