My name is Paul, a city-boy noobie but glad to be here. When I say noobie, not only do I mean just a DHC noob, but I’m a waterfowl noob as well.
I guess my interest in the activity began this past spring. My next-door neighbor is a hardcore turkey hunter and he has been trying and trying to get me to go out with him on a turkey hunt. For every excuse I had to not go with him and give it a try, he had at least three reasons why I should. He finally broke me down and I decided to give it a go. One thing we have in common is that we both have 3 daughters, no boys. He had only one rule: If I agreed to go, I had to bring my oldest daughter (age 12) along for the hunt as he had done with his girls.
I read everything I could get my hands on about turkey hunting and learned that I would be spending some bucks very quickly, especially since I would be outfitting my daughter as well as myself. As one who firmly believes in the “Good, Better, and Best” philosophy of retail merchandise, I decided to select only well-made, entry-level equipment. I swore to not be lured in by celebrity endorsed, non-critical gimmicks and focus on just the basics without solely relying on Wal-Mart grade gear. Decent camo clothing that would keep us dry and concealed seemed like a no-brainer, comfortable boots that allowed us to cover a fair amount of ground without ankle blisters were in order and a reliable weapon that would get the job done seemed appropriate. A quick trip to the gun shop or sporting goods store had my head spinning. Surely, I needed one of EVERYTHING in order to stand a chance against these nasty looking birds. Luckily, my neighbor calmed me down and said he had made that mistake; I could help myself to any of the toys he had collected over the years…toys that he said will almost always get your wife pissed off at you!
The learning process continued. My daughter and I quickly learned what a WMA was and how important they are to us “Average Joe’s” who can’t afford guided hunts with an outfitter. My misconceptions of how “hunters=killers” was quickly corrected as I learned about the tender balance between conservation and hunting. As we would run into other hunters on the WMA and casually ask “how’d ya do today” only to hear “I floored 3 longbeards and 2 jakes before lunch”, I was introduced to the poacher: an ugly reality of the true redneck stereotype that not only jeopardizes future hunting seasons, but gives all hunters a bad reputation that is difficult to overcome.
We learned so much that turkey season. My daughter, a true “girly-girl” cheerleader who can’t seem to put her cellphone down or stay off of Facebook for more than 5 minutes began to ask me daily: “Daddy, when are going out on a sit again? I think we should set up on the ridgeline above that far section of pines. I’m positive they are roosting up there. Can we go scout it at sunset just to see if they fly up?” My kid who typically sleeps until noon on weekends is now beating me to the driveway at 4am to get her gear loaded up. WHO HAS KIDNAPPED MY DAUGHTER BECAUSE THIS IS NOT MY KID?!
And then there are things you learn that are indescribable. No man or woman should ever leave this earth before experiencing nature come to life before dawn. One hears and sees things that only occur at this special time of day. As you sit motionless at the base of an old Kentucky oak tree in pitch black darkness, something magical begins to happen in the wilderness…as I said it is indescribable, you simply must witness it first hand to appreciate it. To simply say you “watch the sunrise” would be an insult to the experience. It is far more than that...it is religious.
Well, needless to say, my daughter and I went out many times this spring. Would you believe that she even talked me in to taking her out on a school day because the season was closing? She gave me the goo-goo eyes and said we were running out of time and well, let’s just say she got the “sick day” she had been begging for…and I got to sleep on the sofa that night when her mother found out later. Oh well, neither one of us ever got that first bird this season (even though they were gobbling all around us on most days when we hit the WMA), but it’s safe to say we gained an invaluable trophy for both of us. Our bond has become so close just as she is becoming a teenager, a time when many girls decide to hate everyone and everything (especially their parents). She makes me take her to the trap range as often as possible. And we are now official huntin’ buddies. I’m forever indebted to my neighbor for taking us along with him and his daughters; it has changed the dynamic of our family forever.
So…why I am on DHC if I have been chasing those bigger birds all spring? Well, after turkey season closed, my daughter and I began flipping through some of the hunting shows on TV. And yes, she said I HAD to come watch this new funny show about these duck hunters from Louisiana. OK, I watched a few episodes and had a few giggles with her. Then she had me watch some actual duck hunts on YouTube. My new huntin’ buddy said, “Look, you can actually talk during the hunt and move around and some of them even cook a hot breakfast while hunting!” She was hooked before I could say a word, regardless of the reality TV nonsense. Next thing I know she’s telling me to make sure we buy duck stamps and register for the state’s blind drawing for pits in the sloughs one county over. I’m waiting for her to ask for a mud motor for her 16th birthday instead of a car.
What more can I say? Hunting changed my life and strengthened my family bond beyond anything I could ever imagine. Glad to be a member of the DHC community. Now, please show me where the ducks are!
Paul the Noob
God is great. He blessed me with 3 healthy children.
He also has a sense of humor. He made sure they were all girls...VERY pretty girls.