I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad and grandpas. They all loved these outdoor activities and wanted to share the experience with me. I could not stand waiting as a child, and still today, I’m always available to go on a trip to the woods or stream. Whether it was hunting or fishing, I was ready and eager. There were many times I got to go with an uncle or one of my dad’s friends because he was unavailable. His hunting buddies always made sure I was included.
When I got my driver’s license, I was just on the go, whether it was hunting with my stick bow or fly fishing somewhere. I had several friends and family members that would ask to go along with me and I would always say yes, with no real intention of taking them. I think I was in my early twenties when I was asked to go on a hog hunt with a good friend, Charlie Bisharat. That hunt made me realize what a selfish hunter I had become. I think it was him pulling me aside and chewing my ass about being so self-centered and the need to involve others that opened my eyes. He started by complimenting me on what a great young hunter and arrow builder I had turned out to be, but that there was a lot more to hunting than just killing. Charlie would put on hog hunts and take a group of guys who had never hunted anything. He always put everyone else first. He would find a bedded hog and help someone who would have never done a stalk before getting close enough for a shot opportunity. I learned a lot from him on those hunts.
It did take me a few years to totally figure out that Charlie had been mentoring me in the traditional archery world. I guess for the last twenty-five years, I started putting on those same hog hunts for friends, family and others that did not have the opportunities that I had as a youth. For several years, I would drive around on weekends looking for garage sales that might have some old bows, as I knew of local kids that wanted one. I’ve bought a lot of bows over the years and gave them away to an adult or child that expressed an interest in hunting or just flinging arrows. It is always good to kindle the flame. This past year I took a soccer dad and friend on his first duck hunt, turkey hunt and hog hunt, where he was successful on all three. His wife is not too happy with me as she states, “I have created a monster.” Actually, she has thanked me many times for getting him into the outdoors. It all started when were chatting at a soccer game a few years ago about hunting. He said that he had always wanted to go, but never knew anyone that could take and mentor him. My friend Mark finally got to go in his late forties.
The past few years I’ve put on youth goose and turkey hunts, trying to take kids that have never been or have no place to hunt. I live in California, where a lot of the good hunting takes place on private ground and opportunities are limited. This past November, I took a couple of young hunters on a turkey hunt that ended with two long beards on the ground. The flame was lit and burning bright. They are still talking about it today and what a great time they had just being out in the woods. Bonus deer, quail and coyote observations were had as well.
My daughter has been hunting with me for the last several years and now she is off to college. However, she keeps calling and asking when our next hunt will be, and if she can bring a friend that has not hunted before with her. I’m glad she did not go through the same selfish phase that I did in my twenties. Perhaps my mentoring is rubbing off a little bit.
In life it’s never too late to get started on something new. Go by a garage sale or get online and buy some cheap bows and take a novice hunting or shooting. Give them an opportunity that they may not otherwise have available. It’s very rewarding to watch someone for the first time hit the bullseye or take their first
– Brian Morris