The sky is still dark, a deep blue that is almost black. The smell of coffee and the musty smell of hunting clothes hang in the air of the cab of the truck. A boy and his grandfather are going hunting on a Saturday morning. For the boy, it’s a chance to spend time outside with his grandfather. For the grandfather, it is about teaching his grandson skills to be independent and a respect for nature. As the boy grows older, hunting takes on different meanings and has different experiences and responsibilities. Children learn basic skills about gun care, learning how to hunt, and being aware of nature. Adults must become more active hunters who have more responsibilities. Hunting is a hobby and life skill that changes and takes on new meaning from childhood to adulthood.
For children, hunting is about learning patience and learning to connect with nature. Children learn they must be quiet and sit still. In an age of video clips and text messages and a million distractions, deer hunting requires stillness and focus. It’s often difficult for children to be good at this part of hunting when they are young, but they get better as they get older. They learn how to be calm and quiet. Children also learn more about nature, primate sustenance and social order. In school, children learn about the seasons, but when they learn how to hunt, they experience the seasons—especially fall and winter. Children increase their nature skills by learning how to recognize different animals based on the noises they make and how to identify tracks and droppings. Children learn how to handle a gun safely so they are not a danger to themselves or others. Children are not expected to always kill an animal, but they do practice shooting in order to be more accurate. It is easier to hit and wound a deer than to kill it with one shot. By learning how to be accurate, children learn compassion to minimize suffering and how to be good at hunting.
When people get older, the experience of hunting changes. Older hunters must be more responsible and become active hunters. They must learn how to spot a trail and follow it, to know when they are trespassing or on open land. Often they must build a blind in order to have a small shelter so they can wait for animals like deer to come out. Building a blind requires knowledge and planning. Instead of just being careful with their weapons, they must learn how to care for it and clean it. They must learn more about hunting season and the laws that affect it. They must learn how to butcher and store the meat they got from the deer and learn how to do things like make sausage or ground venison. They must be at peace with the one that got away. Hunting teaches independence and self-reliance. The grandson who hunts with his grandfather will one day go by himself, and then one day take his own children or grandchildren. The skills he learns about patience and practice will be life lessons he carries forward, and he will be able to provide for himself and his family as well as pass his skills to the next generation.
Hunting is a sport and hobby that requires years to learn to do well and is something that families and communities teach their children. For those children, hunting teaches basic skills like being patient and learning how to find things in nature. As people get older, hunting brings more responsibility and opportunity for being independent. The understanding and experience people have while hunting changes as they become responsible adults. The grandchild carries with him memories from hunting with his grandfather. He does what he saw his grandfather do, and it connects him to his grandfather and to all the people in his family who have every hunted. It is a hobby and life skill that changes and takes on new meaning as people get older.