When other little girls were carrying around Barbie’s with coordinating outfits, I was collecting "cool" rocks from our landscaping. My favorite birthday present as a child was a “big wheel” on my 5th birthday. I had a bedroom painted a neutral yellow and my sister’s was pink. Besides my first communion, I don’t remember ever wearing a dress. For various Halloweens, I recall being a pirate, a storm trooper, a “Planet of the Apes” character, a Native American Indian, and a cowboy. On my first day of kindergarten I begged my Mom to let me wear my full cowboy outfit. I won, and surprisingly, don’t remember any harsh ridicule
Whether you believe that we come into this world with our personalities or that we are molded by our experiences, I can tell you one thing for sure… I was a Tomboy. One of my earliest memories is sitting in our cold garage waiting for my Dad to come back from a duck hunt. When he finally returned and showed me his bounty, I remember wishing I was strong enough to proudly lift one for a picture but they were just too heavy.
When I got older, my Dad would take me on his pheasant hunts around town. I would walk along beside him trying hard to keep up and not struggle in the tall weeds. I loved watching the dogs go on point and I would duck down just to be safe when they flushed up a rooster. I felt like a ‘helper’ carrying the birds in my hunting vest and tried not to complain when they weighed me down. I loved the smell of the shotgun shells and would have a pocket full by the end of the hunt. When I was in middle school, my Dad and I ventured out to South Dakota where the birds are plentiful and the prairies are endless. It was the first time I realized that cowboys weren’t just in the movies.
During high school, my focus was more like a typical teenager than my younger years. I was more interested in my friends and boys than hanging out with my parents. Luckily the connection between my Dad, hunting and I was strong enough to be put on hold for a few years. It wasn’t until my third year in college that I was drawn back to hunting. My Dad had picked up bow hunting and had arrowed his first buck. I was only 10 miles away at college and came running when he called to ask my help in tracking his deer. There was no blood trail and we’d almost given up hope. We thought we’d give it one last good scout and picked up the buck’s tracks in the muddy corn field. When we came across the beautiful 8 pointer, my Dad’s comment was, “next to the birth of my two daughters, this is one of the most exciting moments I’ve ever had!” When I think back to that day, I knew he was hooked as a bow hunter and that I wanted to feel that type of adrenaline rush. It was a year later when I started sitting in tree stands and learning how to bow hunt.
I don’t know too many women my age who share their favorite hobby with their fathers. I feel so blessed to have an appreciation for nature and a passion for hunting. The fact that I can share it with my Dad is so very special. There’s nothing I would rather do than spend a weekend in the woods scouting out that perfect spot to hang my tree stand or looking for rubs. I get so excited waiting for the leaves to change and the smell of fall to fill the air; it means I’ll be in the woods again soon. The only thing better than arrowing that big buck is running back to the cabin to share the story with my family. As any bow hunter knows, you have a lot of time to contemplate life in your tree stand. I can’t help but think how lucky I am to share my favorite hobby and passion with my Dad. How many women can say that?