Ocean (Bug) Hunting; The Story of a First Time Diver - by Heather Sullivan
I have always viewed myself as more of a gatherer than a hunter—so long as pulling items off of the grocery shelves qualifies as gathering. The store has consistently had everything I was looking for from protein to vegetables, so there was no need to venture out of that comfort zone. When a friend mentioned the concept of ‘cook what you catch’ it was somewhat lost on me because I wasn’t a hunter—at least I didn’t think so. I was recently invited by my boyfriend to spend a week in Florida with his family, lobster diving. Although excited about the amazing opportunity for vacation, quality time with his family, and a suntan, an instant fear of deep water and sea life consumed my mind. My fear couldn't necessarily be explained by past experience, but rather more a general fear of the unknown—and sharks. Large, sharp-teethed, people eating sharks. My voiced concerns were met with a cheeky smile and expressed confidence that I was going to get in the water one way or another.
Upon arrival into the Keys, we headed straight to the bait shop for lobster licensing, gear fitting, and last minute items needed for the boat. Our group was headed out first thing the next morning and everything had to be ready for an on time launch.
I watched from inside the boat for the first few ‘honey holes’—as they were affectionately referred to—and was in awe of those diving into the water in the hopes of catching dinner for the group. Finally, with my bright orange life jacket fastened and my boyfriend’s outstretched hand, I built up enough courage to climb over the side of the boat and bob in the water. My fear was real, but it was time to face it snorkel on! I floated in the water and reminded myself to breathe while ensuring the boat was within distance of a quick paddle if needed. Once I put my face in the water, I was overwhelmed first by a frantic search for sharks, then by the pure beauty of the scene below me. It was an incredible underwater world I had never seen before other than on television and in pictures. I watched my boyfriend and his siblings dive to the bottom and come up with their nets of lobsters, which would become meals for the entire family.
As the trip continued, my fear of the fish turned into a true respect for the water and its inhabitants. I gained a deep appreciation for the process of the hunt, the high regard for the sea my co-divers had, and the 3 legal-sized lobsters I caught along the way. Success!
My boyfriend and I were responsible for making dinner for everyone one of the last nights of the trip. The sense of pride I got from knowing that the family that I was feeding was from food that I took part in catching was incredible. There is no question now, and I say it with pride, I believe in ‘cook what you catch’ hunting and am proud to be a #ReelCamoGirl.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and animal management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine and girly.