I Cannot believe it’s that special time of year once again. I am not talking about opening day. This is December and that means Christmas will soon be here. How fast a year rolled by. It has been 12 months since I took the tree down yet every once in a while; my feet still are finding a sharp tree needle.
One of my friends asked me once, “What do you get a guy who already has everything?” I had to laugh a little when a woman standing close by said in a loud, robust voice, “My phone number.” It is true, however, that in my house, my family and friends always try to get me a Christmas gift that I can use while hunting.
This year, I have the perfect answer. Go hunting with me. Even if you are not a hunting enthusiast, come with me and see what nature has supplied for all of us to take the time to enjoy. As a matter of fact, if you have a child, then bring them along as well.
You see, I have reached a point in my life where I really do not care so much about bringing home venison. Oh I love the hunt and still am successful (most of the time). I just think that by introducing young and “not so young” people to this unique sport, it can only be a good thing, not only to the individual involved, but also for hunting in general.
I have watched as interest in hunting has dwindled year after year. If we, as hunters, want to see this sport survive, we have to make an all out effort to get non-hunters involved.
You only need to get them to accept your invitation to sit in a blind with you some morning. Watch their reaction when a whitetail deer feeds just a few yards away. Or look as their eyes open wide when they hear the woods around them wake to the symphony of a few morning gobbles. Even if all you see is a squirrel feasting on some nuts on the forest floor or a chipmunk searching for his breakfast, it will still entertain the perspective hunter.
It might only be a beautiful male cardinal that lands on a branch next to you, unaware of your presence. Whatever it is that happens during your companion hunt, I can assure you that, most of the time, a new hunter will be born.
Anyone who sees an unsuspecting animal up close, will experience their heart hammering in their chest. Older hunters, myself included, still have that same feeling.
I pray that I never lose that excitement. It is a major part of what hunting is all about. If your quarry appears and you make a clean, humane shot, that’s a bonus as far as I am concerned.
Getting up at dark thirty in the morning may not appeal to some (ask my wife about that). It might deter them from the whole hunting experience. That’s okay. Offer them an afternoon hunt. The experience will be the same.
Of course, hunting is not for everyone no matter what you say or do. Some people find they simply have no time for it or they have other interests. My two sons are perfect examples.
My older boy went hunting with me. We had hunted a few times together, and we were going to hunt with friends who like to keep in contact with radios. Well, my son Eric watched, as a nice big buck started to head toward his stand. With his bow in hand, he watched the big bruiser come 15 yards away—a “gimme” shot.
As Eric drew his bow back, a loud voice came over the radio.
“Anybody see anything?”
“Yes,” was my son’s reply. “ I just saw a huge buck raise his tail and run back the way he came.” That was the last time he ever went hunting.
My younger son’s first experience at success was a little different when I took him turkey hunting. I was the designated caller, and he would try to shoot his first bird.
To make a long story short, we had two gobblers sounding off from different directions. One was to the right of the decoy, and one to the left. Both were far off and every time I would use my call, both responded, and both were closing in.
Louder and louder the gobbles came when finally one of the birds came running in to the decoy. Adam waited until the bird fanned his tail and strutted for his new- found love. A well-placed shot from his 20 gauge put the bird down.
I knew right then and there that he was hooked. He and I have had many good hunts since that exciting morning, but unfortunately for me, his career took him to Charlotte. That meant I was back to hunting solo.
However, he still calls me almost every day of the season to ask what I saw that day. He was bitten by the hunting bug, and the only cure is to get away from the pavement and enjoy the outdoors.
This Christmas, give your hunter something he or she could enjoy for years to come—a new hunting partner. If your hunter is like I am, then he or she will enjoy being a mentor to any newbie in the outdoors. Introduce them to the beauty of a gorgeous sunrise and let nature do the rest.
Happy Holidays and remember to have fun and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]