My family had access to land in Medina Co. when I was young and I can remember loading up and going to the ranch quite often. Most visits were during hunting season as we depended on wild game to feed our large family. As soon as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner was done, we would load up all the leftovers and head to the ranch to hunt. Sometimes my Mom, a good shot in her own right, would go along, but I think she stayed home just for the peace and quiet.
Starting out as a “bird boy”, I would shag downed dove and pick up spent casings and had a ball. Ammo was expensive and guns were scarce back then, so I used borrowed single-shot shotguns and fired every gauge/shot combination there was. I remember going quail hunting with a single-shot 20 gauge and laying down on the trail behind a fleeing covey. I shot and had four birds for the pot, something I thought was nothing short of a miracle!
At age 6, my Dad let me shoot his 30-30 and when I fired just at dark, taking my first deer, I thought I had broken the gun as fire blazed out of the muzzle. That deer was a young spike and I could not have been prouder. Back at camp, I was “bloodied” by the uncles I adored and felt I was a hero.
Over the years to adulthood, I shot a lot of deer/dove/rabbits, caught a lot of fish, and even scrounged a few ducks that I had to sneak up on. My memories, however, are not of the kill, they are of time spent with family in the wild. Parents, siblings, cousins too numerous to count, and my uncles, woodsmen that I idolized. Getting up early, gathering all our stuff, hunting in the peaceful outdoors, killing when proper, and processing the meat for the table all are good memories that ultimately lead me to my life’s work.
The point of this ramble is that you need to find a kid to take with you when you go outdoors. Be it to actually hunt, or to fill feeders, scout, or just drive the pasture, take a kid. The average age of Texas hunters has been rising since the seventies and total numbers continue to drop. Along with fewer hunters is less money for wildlife conservation as any money spent on wildlife sporting goods ultimately goes to TP&W. If you don’t have any kids, borrow one or two. Teach them hunter safety and hunting ethics while giving them memories that will last a lifetime.
A great American once said; “if you go hunting WITH your kid, you won’t have to go hunting FOR your kid”.