Annette’s First Hunt – Why Go Hunting At All?
I’ve never hunted.
Unlike many of you, who shot your first gun as a child and have fond memories of hunting with usually Dad, sometimes Mom, I didn’t start shooting until I had long moved out of my parents’ house. While I grew up in a community where plenty of people hunted, and I even developed a taste for venison while still in grade school, hunting wasn’t something that we did.
I started shooting because I thought that every girl should know how to fire a gun. I had no real goal at first except for learning how to shoot, which then gravitated towards the self-defense and competition worlds because they seemed to make the most sense with my city and suburban life. Besides, all of the various hunting seasons and rules seemed a little confusing, requiring a lot of effort.
Many of my new shooting friends were hunters and while they were generous with offers to help out in that area, they also often warned me about downsides like long hours in the cold, sometimes low chances of success, and the gore of field dressing and butchering. Those reasons didn’t make me not want to hunt, but they didn’t help me prioritize getting out into the field either.
Until this year.
In November, I’ll celebrate the tenth anniversary of my first gunshots, and will also take my first shots at something other than paper, steel, or clay. I’ve signed up to go on a ladies-only duck hunt with Calibered Events. Why am I finally going hunting? There are a few reasons.
I care more about where my food comes from. Wild game is the ultimate local, organic, free-range meat source. I’m cooking more these days and as I get older, I find that I want to eat a little less junk food. I don’t always go out of my way to find health food, but I am working on making wiser food decisions, and that can be as simple as buying apples from the orchard down the street instead of from across the country. While my first hunt will be a released shoot, the ducks are bred specifically for hunting by the facility where we’ll be shooting. That means the birds will have been raised less than an hour from my home.
I want to be a responsible meat-eater. Hunting is one of the few ways, along with farming, that allows a person to be more involved in the process of literally putting meat on her table. Instead of the plastic-wrapped anonymity of supermarket poultry, this hunt will require me to kill a duck for my dinner. Sounds harsh, I know, but I feel that at least once, I should respect the animal that feeds me by taking on the experience of a responsible hunt. I may not be able, or even willing, to hunt for all of the meat that I will eat in the future, but I want to try it at least once so that I know that I can do it.
I’ve never done it before. Stepping into the gun world has been a series of one new thing after another. That’s one of the parts I enjoy the most – the fact that there is so much diversity tied together by the common denominator of “devices that throw projectiles”. Over the years, that’s let me try everything from archery field courses to long-distance rifle matches. Now it is duck hunting’s turn.
I’m being set up for success. No matter how much I love trying new things, it’s always a little scary, so I’m especially excited that the hunt I’m going on is designed to make everything comfortable and easy. I’ll be part of an all-women group starting the day warming up with a sporting clays course, after which we’ll be matched up with guides before ducks are released. Afterwards, the staff will even help us clean the birds for a small fee. It’s a less overwhelming way to start out, and I’m betting that the taste of success will help motivate me to learn how to take on more of the process myself.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you how I’m going to get ready for my hunt and how it goes. I’m told there are a few spots left open in the group too, if you’d like to follow along live. Otherwise, I hope you’ll share some of your first-time hunting tips with me over on Gun Carrier’s Facebook page.