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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is from my book Musings & Memories; A Hunter's Thoughts. I hope you like it.

Who was your first hunting partner???

First Hunting Partner

I lost a hunting partner a few years ago. When I heard of his death I was quite shaken. I hadn't known him long, but, as hunting partners are apt to, I felt a special bond with him; both of us hunted geese, ducks, pheasants, deer and elk. We planned a goose hunt in North Dakota that got called off due to snow. He couldn't make it to a turkey hunt in Nebraska and I couldn't make it to the elk hunt in Montana. I wish we had gotten together more.

Recently I lost another hunting partner. This time it was someone I had known for years, actually it was the first hunting partner I ever had. He taught me to shoot a .22 rifle and hit the target. He took me squirrel hunting and watched as I shot my first bushytail. When duck season came around he gave me a duck call, and even though I wasn't old enough to buy a license he took me along in the square stern canoe. I remember slogging through the cattails, pulling the canoe with the duckweed pouring into the tops of my waders. I made the mistake of standing on the seat to watch as a flight of mallards came in to the decoys and our calling. I got wet when I sat down.

I remember having to clean those first ducks, plucking first the feathers and then the down from the pink bodies. Then I made the first cut to open the duck before I placed my hand inside to dislodge the entrails. While hunting, even with all the cold, wet work and early hours was fun, I didn't much like cleaning the animals. He told me, "If you're going to hunt, you're going to eat what you bring home. And if you're going to eat it, you're going to clean it."

He was there when I shot my first pheasant out of a cornfield. I shouldered the gun, pulled the trigger, heard the gun go off and saw a puff of feathers and the bird falling. As I ran to take the big rooster from the jaws of the black Labrador I heard him say, "Nice shot." I didn't realize until years later that when I looked at him for approval his gun was smoking. I know now that he shot too. But, he didn't tell me that then. He was also there when I shot my first mallard, a nice red legged, curly tailed greenhead. He shot too, but this time I knew that even if he hit the duck, I did too. He knew it too, and told me we would make sure I got to eat it when we cooked our ducks that night. On the first bite of mallard breast I bit into a pellet. I secretly pocketed it to look at later, and kept it in my dresser drawer.

He not only took me hunting, he taught me about hunting. He showed me how to hold a gun so that the muzzle never pointed at anyone. He reminded me to check the safety before loading and after shooting, and to check the chamber before I cased the gun. He taught me to hold another hunter's gun or bow while he crossed the fence, or place my gun or bow on the ground a fence post away before I crossed on my own. He taught me to always ask before I entered private land, to offer the landowner some of the game we shot, to always close the gate and not to drive on the fields. We never left any trash and always picked up our shells.

He would never let me shoot a duck on the water unless it was crippled. We always searched for any downed game and never shot before or after legal shooting hours. We never took more game than was legal. If another hunter needed help getting unstuck, hauling out a boat, or if they were broke down we always lent a hand. He taught me not only how to hunt, but safety, morals, ethics and respect for nature, my fellow man and God. He was a good teacher.

He was the same first hunting partner many other hunters have had, their father. It has been many years since we hunted together. I grew up and moved away, spending time in the Rockies, learning to hunt big game on my own. But the lessons learned with him in my early years are still with me. I'm teaching those same lessons to my son and youngest daughter.

Each fall while I hunt I remember many of the experiences we had hunting and fishing together. I wish we could have hunted together one last time. I wish we could have shared another early morning together on a cattail slough, paddling the same canoe across the still, flat water, covered with duckweed and reeds; listening to the sound of the dipping paddles, dripping water and the lazy quack of a hen mallard; watching the mist rise from the water, and the sun come up as the ducks whistled by overhead, bluebills on their way to big water. I wish I could have taken him on a whitetail or elk hunt, to show him how much I had learned. Maybe I could have taught him something. Maybe I could have guided him to his first elk. I hope he would have been proud of me, and how I remembered his early lessons.

As I give my seminars at the hunting shows; write my stories and articles; and take my own children hunting, I hope I can pass on to others, especially the children, how wonderful nature is, and how enjoyable hunting is as a sport. And I hope I can pass on the idea that quality time can be spent between parents and children as they enjoy the beauty of the outdoors that the Great Creator made. Hopefully the theme of respect, ethics and morals will reach enough people; hunters, fishers, trappers, bird watchers, outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists, and even anti-hunters and animal rightists, that they will see that hunting, fishing and trapping are not wrong or bad. Hunting fishing and trapping have helped preserve wilderness areas and game species through the efforts of the hunters, fishers, and trappers, and the conservation organizations they belong to.

If enough people learn the positive qualities these outdoor activities impart, taught by concerned parents and friends, we can save the wild places, wildlife and our hunting heritage. I want to thank my father and his hunting partners who taught me, and all the friends I have, who hunt and serve as role models for my children and the children I reach through my seminars and articles. Thanks to all of you.

God bless,

T.R.
 

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TR: I find your words very touching and heartfelt. This post for me is very timely. I lost my father, and first hunting partner, more than 20 years ago when I was 19 years old. The reason your post is timely is that over the last day I have been thinking a great deal about my time with my dad hunting and how it was cut so short. The cause of this reminiscing was that I was blessed to be able to take my 7 year old son Nick pheasant hunting with me for the first time yesterday.

Nick was so excited to go. He made all the walks, most of the time carrying his unloaded BB gun. The wind was howling and it even rained on us, but he never complained. Having him with me is a dream come true for me. Its funny, I told my wife when Nick was born that it was heartbreaking that I would have to wait many years to hunt with him. Well that wait is over - I am now his first hunting partner.

We also shot some birds - wouldnt have made a difference though - it will always be my best day afield.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm glad that my article touched you, I never know what people will think when I write that type of thing - it is usualy positive, and it is nice to know that my attempt was at least fairly good.

Since I've spend so may hours hunting and researching game animals, with in excess of over 6000 hours just researching, I find it easy to write ab out biology and beharior, and hunting techniques, because it is fairly clinical/scientific. But, I'm not real comfortable doing "perspective" articles - I just try to write from my soul - put down my feelings and what I experienced. I just try ...

I was thinking about which article I would post next, an your post made up my mind.

It is about hunting with the next generation, and is called "The Rites of Passage; Passing on the Tradidion". I think you will like it.

I'll put it up right after this post.

God bless, and remember your time with your former hunting partners, and treasure the timew with the new generation,

T.R.
 
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