Hunting for me is a spiritual experience. It is about much more than harvest…it is about experience, family, heritage, and the stillness that draws me closer to God.
This was a really great day. Kyle and I drove up to Confluence, PA to hunt pheasants with my brother Patrick. Kyle got his first pheasant and Belle (the Brittany) saved the day by finding it in the middle of a dry corn field. Interestingly, the gun Kyle is using was given to Patrick by my parents and I for his birthday one year.
This hunt was significant to me for a number of reasons. There are many images I want to share from this hunt, and I probably will at some point in time. This one is significant for a couple of reasons. Please note the DATE this picture was taken. It is significant to me because this day was the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing away. As we planned this hunt, I wanted, more than anything, for someone to harvest an antelope on this day. I could not have been happier that it was my son who did so.
Further the significance is that Kyle made a shot that would have made my dad proud. It was a VERY long shot (something over 600 yards). My dad’s first antelope was 625 yards. Kyle not only made that shot, but he did it with a rifle that dad gave to me when I was 16…I in turn modified the gun, customized it, and gave it to Kyle for his 16th birthday. Even more poignant was that dad did the inletting on the stock…probably the last gunsmithing work he was able to do. So much of this moment brought me happiness and peace.
You see, Hunting isn’t just about killing for me. It is the opportunity to celebrate a heritage, family, and memories. This day brought healing through my son’s success.
This hunt went down in 2006. I will never forget the excitement I experienced when I opened the Maine moose hunt lottery website and discovered I was drawn for a coveted moose tag in the fall. Even more exciting to me was that my dad was my designated subpermitee on this hunt, meaning we would get to experience this hunt together.
Having my dad along on this hunt was something I enjoyed, but only came to treasure in the years that followed. If you look closely at my dad’s face, you can see the beginning of the effect that Parkinson’s Disease created for him.
This image reminds me of how important family is to me…especially hunting. All of my big hunting memories have happened with family present or nearby. Hunting is more to me that simply killing an animal, harvesting the meat for my family’s nourishment, and filling the freezer. Hunting is a social event form me…especially with the gift of sharing that experience with my family, dad, brother, kids…and hopefully one day, my grandchildren.
Each experience in life should be treasured. Far too soon the lives of those closest to us evaporate like smoke in the sky. Treasure those times when you can be with people you love. Create opportunities to build a shared memory and story. Be present in each moment. Express your love to those who are closest to you. The day will all-too-soon come when they won’t be here anymore.