I've Created a Monster
Throughout my life, I have developed a passion to be one of the most courageous, young, female outdoorsman with a drive to conserve our wildlife. I have developed a love for hunting and the great outdoors with the influence of my grandfather.
From the time I was a little girl, maybe at age 7, I have been obsessed with anything outdoors because my “Grampie” took me everywhere with him. This meant that I would help him move tree stands, scout deer, and roam the outdoors looking for an animal to spot. He took me hunting for the first time when I was 8. I can still remember that season like it was yesterday. It was late November, there was about two feet of snow and it was frigid outside. I thought that I had hypothermia in my toes, but I stuck it out because I wanted to make him proud. I really didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing but I knew what the goal was, to kill a deer. As the season passed, I never got a deer. However, I did not let that discourage me. At the end of the season he gave me a simple, “Well?”
I paused for a moment and said, “Let’s do that again!” In that moment, I knew that this was going to be one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.
Fast-forward to the following season, we were sitting together in the tree stand that we built just for me. I was so proud of that dumpy little box with windows, but it was mine and it was perfect. I was relaxed and sitting there just sipping away at my hot chocolate. My feet got cold after sitting there for three hours doing nothing, so I very subtly said, “Grampie, will you rub my feet?” He agreed, so I whipped out my feet and he rubbed them for about 15 minutes.
That’s when the first buck walked out. Gramp said, “Gab, there’s a deer! There’s a deer!” I didn’t hesitate to grab my gun and get sighted in on him. My breathing was heavy, and I was shaking from the excitement. Gramp put his arm around me and whispered,
"Easy Gab, it’s just like the target. Just breathe and squeeze the trigger.” I don’t remember shooting the deer, but I remember my grandpa grabbing me and giving me the biggest hug. “You did it Gab!” He shouted as he took off running towards my buck. He left me sitting there in my fuzzy purple socks with no shoes on… in complete shock. When he realized I wasn’t behind him, he ran back to help me put my boots on, then we went to get my deer. There was a small “photo op” after that. This was the hunt that started it all.
Each year I try to find something to make my next hunt more challenging than the previous one. Last year, I took it upon myself to hunt alone for the first time and shot my first deer without his guidance. I had a crazy whirlwind of emotions running through me, but it changed my perspective on things. Just last weekend, I killed a doe with a compound bow. That’s said to be the most challenging hunt possible when hunting white-tail deer.
I was sitting alone, and I was getting bored. I had my phone out texting my friends and my mom. I heard some leaves rustling behind me, so I turned around. “This is it.” I thought to myself as I stood up and got ready to put everything I have ever learned from him to the test. My breathing got heavy, I started to shake. I grabbed my bow and got ready to draw. I let the deer walk forward about five yards, then I drew my bow completely. I got my sight on the deer and got my pin aiming right where I wanted it. I made a little bleat sound with my mouth to stop the deer. As soon as she stopped I pulled the trigger on my release. It was a direct hit in the lungs. I took a step back in my tree stand and watched her walk away slowly. I grabbed my phone and called my grandpa as fast as I could, and he just started laughing.
He said, “Are you positive you hit a deer? Where did you hit her? Where did she run? Can you see her now? Do you see your arrow? Stay in your stand and be quiet. She won’t know what hit her if you don’t make any noise. I’ll be up in a half hour and then we’ll go find her.” I answered his questions as fast as I could and rushed him off the phone. I was still shaking from killing a deer with a bow, so I sat down and tried to catch my breath. As soon as he got there, we started tracking her. There was a huge blood trail. We found my arrow a few yards away from where I shot her.
She only ran 50 yards and there she was, belly up on the other side of the trail. I remember looking up and saying, “Well that’s either her or a really fuzzy rock.”
Gramp looked up from the blood trail and said, “Gab, that’s her. Nice shot!” He gave me the biggest hug and said, “I am so proud of you Gab!” Then he mumbled under his breath to my grandma, “Ugh, I’ve created a monster!” We stood there laughing at the comment and went on about harvesting and processing my deer.
It may seem contradictory, but hunting is in fact helping to conserve our wildlife. Hunting helps to control the population and preserve their habitats and biodiversity. Roughly 50 percent of the funding that goes to state agencies that protect our wildlife comes from the purchase and taxes from our hunting tags and licenses. I have also learned to be thankful for the animals that I have harvested in the past and for the memories I have made with my favorite people.
My grandpa has taught me how to be successful and provide for my family, but to never forget why I hunt. Before every hunt we say a prayer for our safety and for the blessing of a harvest. After each hunt we say a prayer to thank God for the harvest we have received. He has taught me that just because you kill an animal, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. My grandpa has been one of the biggest influences in my life and has helped me to decide that a career in wildlife conservation is in my future.