When is to young to take your child on a hunting trip!? If this question was posed to a father with sons the answer is always. “It’s never to early to take them out, show them how to hunt, be a man.” But when the question is asked to a father with daughters it seems to be the complete opposite. The answer seems to go along the lines of “you should wait, she’s to young, guns will scare her, it’s dirty, it’s gross!”
Being a father of two daughters I asked myself this question! And I decided that my 4.5 year old daughter was ready to go out in the field for dove season opener! My daughter Emma has grown up around a father who hunts, fishes, cooks and cleans his game! She watches the videos and pictures from my trips. She asked for teriyaki antelope skewers on her 4th birthday.
This springs turkey hunt I was loading the car, packing my tags and tuning my calls when a cute little girl approached me with a box call in hand and said “Dadda, can I go?” It broke my heart to tell her no, not yet honey. So when it came time for dove season that same yellow haired, blue eyed girl came up to me and simple said “Dadda, can I go.” To which I replayed “heck yeah.” The joy she had upon her face will be a memory I take with me my whole life. I had more fun picking out pink camo, pink eye and ear protection than I have ever once had finding gear for me.
Leading up to the trip I got a lot of people telling me things like. She’s to young, girls should not see that. It’s dirty and dangerous. You’re not a good father! Yes, people told me these things. I found myself asking them if Emma was a 4.5 year old boy would it be any different. To which every single person responded “YES, boys are supposed to do that stuff, not girls” I was shocked.
No wonder our little girls are finding self worth in boys, makeup, fashion and looks. No wonder why our girls are being bullied, pushed around and made to feel like they are less.
I will raise my daughters with a joy in being them. Being confident and happy with being a girl. Knowing that they can succeed in anything they want. That when they out shoot the boys don’t rub it in their faces…. Okay, yes rub it in their faces! Know that it’s not what’s under the clothes that makes you who you are, but what you do that defines who you are! Being a spiritual man I always instill that idea of actions speak louder than words!
The day has arrived, the hunt is upon us and I tell Emma, let’s go! Her face lights up, she runs and throws her camo on, laces up her new shoes, grabs her snacks and kisses mom goodbye! The whole way out to the field she will not stop talking. She’s on the walkie talkie with the other cars explaining what and where we are going. From the back seat I hear her on the walkie “Kevin, we will be there in… Dadda when will we be at the field… Kevin, dadda said 7 minutes.” Her excitement is infections.
We get to the field and drop the first bird and she is nervous, but giddy! She grabs the bird excited for it, but you can see the look on her face when she realizes it’s dead. Here it was, the moment I was dreading. How would this girl, this small little yellow haired girl react….. She gave me a look like daddy, it’s dead! I sat in the dirt, looked her in the eye and said “now we thank the bird for being our food, we thank Jesus for giving us this bird as food for our family.” Explained that we don’t hunt for a trophy, we don’t hunt for sport. We hunt for adventure, for the food! She looked at me with those big blue eyes, wrapped her arms around me and said. “I love you Dadda”.
We sat and talked for a little bit more, but that did not last long because it was time to shoot some more. I found myself not so focused on the task at hand as I was at the joy she had. Joy in everything about the hunt, from collecting rocks, picking flowers, stashing stray feathers in her pockets! I not once found myself wishing she was a boy, not hoping that one day I would have a son to pass on my knowledge and tradition. I loved this moment. On our way back to camp she was excited to eat her bird, she wanted teriyaki doves. (See a pattern in her meal choice) She wanted to go out again! She was hooked, from smelling the gun powder, the dirt, the game, the peeing in the dirt, she was hooked on it all. The last words she said as we pulled into camp was “let’s not tell mom about that dead birds, it might scare her a little bit, okay Dadda!”
I can’t wait for our next hunt together, I can’t wait for the day that she harvests her first animal. To all the dads with daughters whom are afraid to take their little girls out in the field, don’t be! Man up and teach your daughter how to be!