I started hunting with my dad when I was 2 years old. I knew from the beginning that it was something I would enjoy. For me hunting isn’t just something I do, it’s a way of life and who I am. Harvesting an animal is just a small part of it, the real enjoyment is being out there and watching what nature has to offer. As I look back on hunting, I always considered it “My time”, until I discovered the USSA. Now it’s “Our time”!
A few years ago, I received a bear harvest permit and I received a letter from the USSA, asking for me to donate the tag to a well deserving child. After speaking with Brigid, I told her I would donate it if I could take the child hunting. This could not have come at a better time in my life, as I was dealing with a very difficult life changing situation. My son, daughter and I started baiting as I have done since I was 16 years old, and 3 months later the hunt was finally here. When the child, his father, and a very good friend of his showed up to hunt, I was very nervous, as I wanted more than anything for him to connect on his trophy. The excitement the child showed when it all came together was priceless and all the bear hunters around the area were at the registration station when we went to register it. They were all so happy for him, and a friend came up to me and shook my hand and thanked me for all of this, as he also had a child with the same struggles in life. As my eyes welled up with tears, I realized my kids and I were part of something “bigger” than us all. It was my calling and when people offer thanks for this gesture, I tell them its side of me that loves to hunt and introduce others to the great sport of bear hunting. Over the years, I have taken several children hunting and witnessed them harvesting their first animal. I noticed that the bear hunters have to turn away for a moment, because it’s not right for people to see us “big tough” bear guides with tears in our eyes. But more than that, I meet so many great people willing and offering to help me with the hunts. I always tell the families and children, “It is a group effort, so please thank everyone”. We, as hunters, agree and disagree about different things about hunting, but we walk away as friends, and the hounds-men in the area are always willing to take the kids hunting with their hounds if my baits go “cold”. Over the last few years, I have seen a unity develop with the hunters in the area, due to the kind gestures of people of the USSA Family. I truly believe that the future of hunting is in the hands of the sportsmen and women, and it is extremely important to introduce people, who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to hunt, to this great sport. I enjoy this great sport and will continue to work with the USSA in their efforts, to make dreams and wishes come true for the kids and our veterans.
Taking the children hunting over the last few years, I’d like to believe that I taught them things about hunting the black bear, but as I sit in the stand with them, I realize that they are teaching me just as much and probably more. Every child seems to teach me a little more about myself and how to face the day to day challenges in life with pride and dignity. When the families show up to hunt, they seem to have a great deal of appreciation for things in life, and when they thank me for the hunt, I tell them there is no need for thanks, because my thank you is the smiles and excitement they allowed me to see and share in their child and family. The animal, no matter what size, is always a trophy, but the real satisfaction is in the “Trophy Hugs and Smiles.”
I will work very hard for the USSA, as the bear hunting coordinator, so please consider this as my offering to do so.