DULUTH—Family time and hunting has always gone hand-in-hand, at least for me. My hunting experiences began when I was a child. My dad is a hunter, so naturally, I wanted to be. At age 11, I told my parents that I wanted to take firearm safety so that I could go hunting with dad. I think the reason was because I saw how passionate he was for the sport. I wanted to share the excitement of getting ready for season, sighting in rifles, scouting, and swapping stories about bucks of years past. Not to say my dad didn’t try to keep me interested, but after a couple years, I stopped hunting. I became way more active in high school sports, theatre, choir and academics that I didn’t have the time, or make the time, for hunting.
As a college senior, though, I picked up a used Mission Menace bow and my addiction to hunting began again. This time, I also fell in love with archery and wanted to challenge myself by hunting with a bow. Fast forward a couple years, and I’m now married to a hunter and we try to hunt everything we can that is in season.
When I first became pregnant, I knew that my life would change tremendously, but didn’t quite realize how. I continued hunting throughout my pregnancy and was able to go goose hunting, pronghorn hunting in South Dakota, bow fishing, harvest a doe with my bow and a buck with my rifle. I remember thinking to myself, “I can do this mom thing and still do what I love.” So far, I have, but my thinking has shifted to, “I can do this mom thing and teach my daughter to love the outdoors.” And she does.
Her name is Holland and in the 16 months she’s spent on earth so far, she’s had quite a few outdoor/hunting experiences. She’s been fishing, ice fishing, camping, hiking and bow fishing. She’s even been grouse hunting, but not in the traditional sense. We always want to be sure she is safe, so we hunt with her on private land and she wears hearing protection. Not only that, but typically her dad or I will drive with her in the side-by-side while the other parent walks on the trails ahead with a shotgun. We take turns and it doesn’t always end in success, but it certainly is quality time together outdoors.
When I’m parenting solo, I put Holland in a carrier and we set out on adventures. Sometimes it is just a walk around the family farm, a hike on a local trail, or if we are feeling adventurous, a little archery practice or bow fishing. This past spring, I took her bow fishing for the first time on a local riverbank. I spent a couple different days out on the bank locating suckers and flinging arrows with her on my back. Once I shot enough for a meal, we cleaned, brined and smoked them. Holland loved hearing the sound of the flowing water, watching mom shoot and especially touching the fish. Having success hunting or fishing is always exciting, but the absolute best part about this time was that I could share the experience with my daughter.
There was actually a time in my life where I thought I would never have kids. Maybe it was because of my adventurous soul and shiny new journalism degree that, I figured, would take me all over the world. Or maybe it was the past relationships I’ve been in where, deep-down, I knew there was no future. A little time, maturity, and a good partner, and here I am. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything else in the world. In fact, baby number two will join our outdoor adventures this March. It’s sure going to be a wild ride full of work, balance and adapting but, as anyone who has children knows, it will all be worth it.
At this point, all I have to say to Holland is, “Do you want to go outside?” and she goes wild. She hops onto my lap so I can put her shoes on and then goes to the door and rings the bells (the bells are for our dog to ring when he needs to go out) and waits for me to get my stuff together and open the door. If there is anything in my parenting journey that I’d like to call a success, that is definitely it. She loves the outdoors and it makes my mama-heart soar.