Food with a story

Published 12:37 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Tales of the Hunts

By Philip Hunt          

Most weeks, our family eats wild game four nights a week at our dinner table. A common conversation starter begins with remembering where our food originated. Whether it was a large lake, a small farm pond, a cold swamp, or a colorful fall hardwood forest, every meal has a story. A few months ago my son,Paul, asked to be part of the story. He wanted to take a deer. 

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          The most common way for a parent to ruin a fun activity is to force it on their child. Our kids are mostly invited on all of our outdoor excursions and can be as much, or as little, involved as they desire. For years I dreamed about my sons first Hunt carrying the rifle, but he had to ask first. 

           He needed to ask because I was not going to make him Hunt, but he also had to be willing to put the work in to ethically take an animal. Some folks are disturbed by photos of kids holding a rifle next to an animal. I understand that sentiment. When I see a picture of a “first kill” I see the culmination of months or years of preparation. 

           Shortly after my Paul decided he wanted to take a deer, we didn’t take to the field, we went to the range. The portrayal of hunters being Elmer Fudd’s wandering aimlessly through the woods while blasting anything that moves is purely fictional. Every hunter starts at the range. Learning how to handle a weapon safely and hit a desired target is a prerequisite to going afield. 

           While my son has honed his skills with a BB gun in the backyard, stepping up to a rifle is a large jump. Our first trips to the range were focused on proper form and technique. We weren’t as worried about how close the rounds hit around the bullseye. 

           Over the next few months, my son became more confident in his skills and said he was ready. At that point, I told him to prove he was ready. He needed to put three shots in a certain diameter around the center of the target before he could take an animal. 

           Paul’s first try was a wake up call. His three shots had one bullseye but two out of the circle. Paul hung his head for a bit, but he asked what he could do to be better and over the next few weeks we practiced more. 

           Last Saturday, we went to the range again. Paul took his three shots and they were excellent. He was so proud of his accuracy after working hard for months that we was smiling ear to ear. He did not even mention a deer. 

           That evening we went to the woods. When we left I asked Paul if he had his license and deer tags. You would have thought I told him it was Christmas. The evening went perfect and Paul ethically added food in our freezer. Now, when we gather at the dinner table, Paul can tell his story.