Christmas In October

September 23, 2008
Imagine a man lying in bed, when all of a sudden a small child begins to shake him while squealing with excitement. He lazily turns to look at the alarm clock that has not gone off yet and it reads 4:20a.m. He happily climbs out of the warm bed and is pulled by the little girl into the living room. This may be a scene from a Christmas movie, or it may be a memory of a four-year-old girl excited because it was Opening Day of turkey season.

I grew up in the country. As such, I was raised as a tomboy. Never in my life have I been afraid to get my hands dirty, in fact there were many times that I came home too dirty. In a small country town, Opening Day is practically a holiday. Kids skip school, parents skip work, and the next day is a never-ending debate on who had come home with the biggest trophy. However, it seemed that this unofficial holiday was only recognized by the male population… except in my family.

My mother began hunting when she married my father. To spend more time together, my father taught her to bow and gun hunt. They would spend hours every day practicing. Then, when she felt ready, they hunted together never wanting to come home. Eventually, they went on their own and it became harder to make my mother come home at dark than it did to make my father. It began as a way to bond, but it quickly turned into so much more.
I was four-years-old when my dad first took me hunting. He chose turkey season because, we could sit in a blind and I could move a little bit more. I was too small even to drag a gun so I sat on the ground while he held the gun. After a day of attempting to mimic a turkey like my dad,
a turkey came into view. Before my father took aim, he looked down at me and said that when he gives me the okay I should pull the trigger. I was four-years-old when I shot my first turkey.

Four years went by and a youth deer and turkey season was implemented. Turkey season was a washout. I became too nervous and missed the few shots I had the opportunity to take. Then deer season came around. It was the first day of youth season and around nine in the mourning a doe comes into shooting range. I was eight-years-old when I shot my first deer.
The next Monday at school, I was on top of the world. Not only was I the only girl to even go hunting that weekend, but I was the only youth in my grade, male or female, to shoot anything. That Monday, I sat telling my story to anyone that would listen. Eyes wide with shocked faces, I impressed my girlfriends because I had the guts to participate in a man’s sport. I impressed the boys because not only was I a girl, but I had showed them all up.
Those days changed my life forever. Hunting became so much more to me than a simple game or hobby. It became a way of life. I do not hunt because I enjoy upstaging grown men, doing that is just an added benefit. I hunt because it is relaxing, and there is nothing like it in the world. It taught me patience, to pay attention to small details, and that girls can do anything boys can. I hunt because it is a part of who I am.

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