WILD CHILD by Josephine Pence
"Truth is- I'm always saddened when I kill an animal. It's not remorse I feel... I know why I'm a hunter. It's out of respect”
I never understood hunting. I never understood why one would get up at the crack of dawn and go sit in the cold with deer urine all around them. I never understood why one would spend hours in a tree stand with the slight promise of returning with meat. Truthfully, I was pretty terrified of killing and taking an animal's life. Now, at 25 years old, I finally understand.
I was considered pretty “wild” in high school and college. I am the baby of seven children, and I love being around people and having a good time. My family would definitely describe me as a “wild child” who loves to meet people, and try new things . I love change, and I embrace the unknown. I am not an introvert. I always had to be by people or talking to feel complete in highschool. Slowly over the years, this changed. I found my peace and sanity in the great outdoors, and would rather be in the woods with my dog by myself, than be by large groups of people.
My first hunt was in Atchison, Kansas at a public hunting land area with my college boyfriend. As a devout student, my only concern about the hunt was making it to my 10:50 Criminal Justice class on time. I woke up at 4 a.m. on a cold November day. It was the first day of rifle season. I had to trek through 3 miles of corn fields, a cold stream, and then one mile up a bluff into the woods. For one, I was not in good shape. My diet consisted of Keystone Light and cafeteria food. Second of all, I forgot waterproof shoes or rubber boots. The icy stream burned my feet, so I had to stop after crossing and change into a fresh pair of socks. Almost to our destination, I was not enjoying this “Via Dolorosa”.
My legs hurt, and my hands were freezing. After reaching the deer stand, everything was numb. My hunting guide, looked at me with a stern look, and put his finger to his face and mouthed “SHHHHH” as if he anticipated the complaining that was soon to come. I had never done anything like this. Since I was little, I loved going outdoors and often pretended to be “Huck Fin” with my sister . We lived across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and I entertained myself by the river. I loved nature, but I never actually experienced the outdoors in this kind of setting. I could see my breath. My lips were chapped and peeling. I was hungry. I also brought a whole pot of coffee with me. I struggled to get it out and pour it in my cup. Was this not normal procedure for hunting? I needed my coffee! Again, I got scowls from my hunting partner. I decided the coffee could wait. After receiving a tap on my back from above the tree stand, I looked ahead. About 50 yards in front of me, was a monster buck. As the Kansas sun was rising over the foggy corn field, two deer were feeding. Above me in the tree stand, the rifle pierced the November air, and the monster buck dropped. Adrenaline surged through my veins, and I wasn't the one even taking the shot at the buck. Life is so precious. In that moment, I realized, women were extremely special. We had the beautiful gift of giving life, and also taking it as well. We are lethal weapons ourselves.
I wish more women could understand the beauty in this and not be afraid to get out and hunt. It isn’t about being a savage or a brute. In my opinion, I have learned more about life and respect for my food by hunting in the woods. I would rather go out and hunt anyday than go to a bar now. I love animals, and I respect life. I also believe animals were put on this earth for consumption, and there is something rewarding about hunting your own food and cooking it. I also believe the source of your meat is very vital for health reasons. I believe in using every bit of the meat you have. I even give the bones to my dog. I believe in hunting regulations, and wildlife conservation. I also now understand why we dress in our pink camo and put on the deer urine or scent jammer. Camo is more than a pattern. It is becoming one with your surroundings and nature.
3 years after my first hunt in college, I finally harvested my own buck with my pink bow in Nebraska. Hunting is hard work! That story is another to tell. I now work for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and I am considering going back to school for a Masters Degree. I never would have believed that I would become an avid huntress. When I tell people that I have taken a buck with my bow, some scoff or laugh and say "You did!?". Why is that? Maybe it is because I have my nails done, or I don't give off the impression that I am an outdoors woman. Either way, I believe I can still be very feminine while hunting for my own food and look good while doing it.. :) I believe that it is better to teach our future children to get outdoors and off the couch. I believe in eating clean, and if more people were taught these skills of hunting and preparing food from the field to table, our obesity rates would decline. I believe that if more people enjoyed the serenity of the wilderness, they would feel closer to their ancestors and heritage and maybe even more happier. Lastly, I believe that I have truly owned my title as the “wild child." I am the only person in my family who has spent hours in the woods, hunted, and ultimately cooked their own harvested deer. Now that.... is truly wild.
The Writer of this article is Josephine Pence. Josephine is originally from Mankato, MN and loves to hunt, write, and spend time with her Germand Shepard / Bernese Mountain dog. She is currently Employeed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Comission. Josie may be returning to school in Minnesota for a Masters Degree next year and can't wait to hunt turkeys this Spring!