I don’t have a reputation as a world class hunter that kills giant deer every year. I do have a reputation for being an honest ethical sportsman. People who know me are always willing to let me hunt their land. They know I won’t blaze a trail with a three wheeler or send a bullet through their home. They know I won’t destroy fences or litter the land. Actually most of the time they don’t even know I am there.
These are lessons that all hunters must learn and they are the most important lessons we can teach our children. How to hunt and how to take a deer are important but how to do it the right way ethically and legally are far more important. We teach by example what we do and what we say influence our children. Even the things our friends do can teach a child the wrong lesson. If a family friend, relative, or complete stranger do things that are illegal or unethical, we should tell our children that this is not right. We do not have to confront the wrong doer but we have to make sure that the hunters of tomorrow do not follow their examples.
When I was a young hunter I was forunate to be surrounded by men who were hunters in the truest sense of the word. They taught me to respect the land and the landowner. To respect the animal, and to protect my quarry from those who would harass or harm these animal for misguided fun or for a piece of bone on top of a skull. My father was chief among these men. He used hunting to keep me from trouble, jail, or a young death. He never scored on a world class animal but all of his kills were treated as such. He taught me how to make the most of the animal and how to be a true hunter. He may not have killed a Pope & Young buck, but he did something most hunters never do. He left behind a legacy that I carry in my heart. He left his mark in not only my life, but the lives of many. I like to think that mark looks an awful lot like a big ol’ buck. He has been gone for ten years, and I still miss him everyday and I thank the Lord he helped me become a good man and more importantly a good hunter.