Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Dads, girls and hunting

By: L.A. Kohl
Nov. 13, 2004
(published in the Wednesday, Dec. 1 edition of the “Bull’s Eye”, Vol. 1, No. 6

Opening day of deer season...up at 5 am, the smell of sausage cooking and coffee brewing...wool socks, coveralls, bright orange accessories strewn across the room. And a sleepy eyed, sixteen year old girl looking like maybe this deer hunting thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But, she enjoys doing things with her dad, and the fact that hunting is traditionally a guy thing just seems to make her more determined to go give it a try.

Back in those “B.C.” days (before children) my husband dreamed of teaching his boy(s) how to hunt, fish, wrestle, play sports, wield a hammer, use power tools, drive a tractor...and on and on it goes. When girl number one arrived, he was overjoyed that there was going to be a little replica of me around the home. Girl number two showed up less than two years later, and on and on it went until after 17 years of marriage, we were up to the score of: Girls, 6...Boys, 0. Somewhere in the midst of that, he decided that it really didn’t matter. So what if they were girls?

And so, that’s why our oldest is out hunting with her dad. That’s why, sometime within the next few days, our second oldest will also go give it a try with her dad. Our girls get their hunter safety certification long before they get their first make-up kit. Are they out to prove something to their dad? Has he made them feel like sons are more valuable, and so they have to try and somehow be the house full of “boys” that he’ll never have? I don’t think so.

I believe it’s more a matter of instilling confidence in our daughters. He’s never wanted them to feel like there are certain things they just can’t do. He lets them start running his surveying instrument when they’re tall enough to see through it. He let them chisel out joints for our timber frame home when they were only 7 or 8 years old. He knew that a serious slip of the hammer could mean a permanent gouge in our home’s interior frame – visible for all to see, for perhaps generations to come...but that’s okay. Gaining confidence in your ability to do something is more important to him than outward appearances.
And so, another year of deer season has come, and he’s once again giving his daughter an opportunity to gain some more confidence. It probably means that he won’t get a perfect, first shot at something...he’ll let her have that chance. That’s okay, because Lord willing, he’s got another 40 or 50 years to have his chance...but today, bonding with his daughter and helping her gain confidence in yet one other realm is more important.

Here’s to all the dads, uncles, brothers and grandpas out there who realize that hunting is a skill to teach, share and pass on to another generation – and not just an opportunity to get a trophy rack to hang on your wall.

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