posted on January 19, 2010 08:43
By Daniel James Hendricks
Much of the credit for a life dedicated to the chase of wild things rightfully belongs to my beloved mother and father.
Born in 1949 and schooled during the 50’s and 60’s, the year 2010 seemed a million miles away to me during those formative years. But now that it is here, not only does 2010 denote the passing of the first decade of this century, but for me, it marks another important milestone in my life as a hunter. This is my fiftieth year of hunting big game animals in the wild. Tacking on another four years or so for small game hunting is required to complete the report, but it was half a century ago that I shot my very first whitetail deer along the edge of a thick, willowed swamp after a long, cold day of hanging in the limbs of a small poplar tree (without a stand of any kind). I still remember it as if it occurred just yesterday. What a triumph it was for that twelve year old farm boy that was nearly frozen stiff by the time he pulled the trigger of the old Stevens 30-30 dropping his very first whitetail deer.
Much of the credit for a life dedicated to the chase of wild things as well as a passionate devotion to the promotion and preservation of our hunting heritage rightfully belongs to my beloved mother and father. Both recognized early on that I not only possessed an abnormal passion for animals of all kinds and the great outdoors, but they quickly realized that my psyche leaned heavily toward the feral side of nature. However, they took all of my wildness in stride and encouraged, enabled and abetted my need to be the woods in any way they were able.
Busy, hard-working people that they were, there wasn’t a lot of time for my father to spend tutoring me in the field, but enough guidance was committed to lay down general guidelines and safety instructions with weapons as well as common sense pointers about surviving in the land that has the ability to be nurturing as well as very dangerous and at times even deadly. Beyond that, other than our annual deer hunting opener the first part of November, he basically turned me loose in the thick wilderness that surrounded our family farm. From there, nature took its course and another hardcore outdoorsman was created out of all the magic that Mother Nature can muster. In my mind, it was the greatest gift my parents could have given me, the freedom to be what nature called me to be – a hunter.
The many lessons taught during those early deer seasons by a father who loved to hunt, but had too little time due to multiple jobs and a large, hungry family to house, clothe and feed, are still with me today. It was this early instruction that formed the very foundation of my hunting lore, and which is still used today as I instruct hunter’s education classes and go about recruiting and mentoring new hunters where ever and whenever I am able. The simple education that was given by my father was not only practical and useable then, but every bit of it is still applicable today. The precious time spent with my father and brother in the field chasing whitetail deer makes up some of the most precious childhood memories I possess.
What Dad didn’t have time to teach me was picked up from reading a kaleidoscope of hunting publications, listening to other hunters opine and of course my favorite source: the bloody nose method of trial and error. But each new bit of knowledge was just one more block being laid on the foundation that had been created by my father since the time I was old enough to listen to his fascinating recounts of his own hunting experiences.
In the past I have read and heard other hunters relate of how important their parents have been in the formation of their love and passion for the hunt. However, it is usually being done as a eulogy after the parent has crossed over to the other side. I offer my thanks to you now, Mom and Dad, while you are still here to read my words of gratitude and realize how much your understanding, guidance and acceptance of what I am means to me. Your unconditional love and support for my love of the wild is a treasure that I will take with me to the grave.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, I love you both.