Leading The Way- By Erin Crooks
If you are reading this, there is a good chance you love to hunt or get outdoors. There’s also a possibility you’re a parent. So maybe you will understand when I say that most of us don’t want to take our little ones hunting. Because let’s face it, we want to have a successful hunt, and need a break from day to day life. Hunting is our escape. That usually doesn’t include a squirming, hungry, cold 4 year old. Not because we don’t love spending time with them, but we just want to worry about no one but ourselves and being outdoors. At least, that’s what I used to think. The thing is, when we don’t include our kids, nieces, grandkids or whomever, we are missing out on something extremely valuable: Bonding, teaching, and passing down one of life’s greatest traditions. Hunting is not just about the kill, or the harvest. Hunting starts from making plans, prepping gear, talking about last year’s hunting trips as you get ready for this year’s hunt, waiting in the cold, patience, learning new things each year, and then hopefully a harvest. Wanting to include my son on all of those things, I decided this year I would take my 4 year old, Gus (who had been begging nonstop), on his first hunting trip. When I asked if he wanted to go with me, he was beyond excited. Thinking that I would wait until he was like 6 or 7 originally mind you. Instead, I figured with it being early season, and warm out with ample daylight, that I would give it a shot with him even as young as he is.
That afternoon while packing up all of our stuff, I got Gus dressed in his camo gear, grabbed his bb gun per his request, and we headed from our home in Virginia down to North Carolina. A friend of mine owning a farm down there, with a nice two-person box stand, offered his hunting spot to us. That entire hour and a half drive down to the farm, Gus told me stories about hunting, as I assumed he imagined it was going to play out. Most of them included an alligator and a bear of course. He was overjoyed to be coming along. I really hadn’t expected him to be so excited and it honestly made my heart overwhelmingly happy. I felt a serious sense of pride having my son be so excited to spend time with me doing something I am so passionate about.
When we arrived at the farm, he jumped out of the truck and greeted our friend “Farmer Dave,” as Gus called him. He told Dave that we were going to shoot a deer and a huge bear. Big hopes this kid had! He asked for his binoculars, threw on his orange hat, and put his snacks into my pack. We said goodbye Farmer Dave and headed out to the box stand. It was about a 3/4 mile walk in and Gus quietly walked in front of me the whole way, leading us to the stand, only stopping to glass from time to time. In his mind, I’m sure he felt like he was taking his mom hunting, not the other way around!
We climbed up into the big wooden box stand, got all of our gear out and ready for the evening, and settled in. I then went over the importance of being quiet, and sitting still with Gus. Though I am pretty sure he was a little too amped up to soak up any of what I said, but he nodded like he understood and went to glassing the soy bean fields and surrounding swamps. An hour or so went by and I was pretty impressed with his ability to just sit and glass the fields without moving all over the place as he normally would. He proceeded to ask me maybe 200 questions during the hour and forgot the ‘be quiet’ part at least 100 of those times. Nonetheless, I could tell he was in heaven out there with me so I did my best to keep my patience under control.
Another 30 minutes went by and to my surprise the deer showed up! Earlier than I had expected and we still had plenty of daylight left. I got excited right away as I normally do. I pointed the deer out to Gus and watched his eyes double in size. He looked at me and said loudly, “Shoot him mommy!” I told him we couldn’t shoot these deer just yet and that we should wait just a little to see what other deer might show up. How those deer stuck around with as loud as Gus was at first I have no idea, but they did. We quietly enjoyed a good 30 minutes of watching them come in and out of the field. Pointing to each one and asking which one to shoot, I saw a sparkle in his eye that I will not forget as long as I live. We stayed the entire evening (which was not my original plan), and waited around for a nice buck. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to harvest a deer that evening, as the opportunity never presented itself, but I can safely say that hunt will always be one of the most special hunts I have ever been on.
At dark we packed up our stuff to head back to the truck, the whole walk back I listened to Gus recap his version of the hunt we were just on in the same excited manner as before. He couldn’t see me, as I was once again behind him while he led the way. But I was toting one of the biggest smiles that had been on my face, in a really long time.
ReelCamoGirl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and hunting perspectives.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife 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.