The Hunter

October 22, 2010 by Ellen Stimson in Hunting, Kids in the Country, Parenting

We have a hunter in the family. These are not words I ever expected to say. And then come these. I am thrilled we have a hunter in the family. Take that Ellen, you knee jerk, fancy meat eating, anti gun liberal.

Now I have always understood the right to bear arms. I get the rights of hunters. After all I moved to a rural state where there is a huge dichotomy between the monied class and the working class. Here plenty of folks hunt for the meat they eat. They put up deer and it sustains their families over the long winters when work is scarce. I buy my meat from hippie organic farmers. We are essentially the same those hunters and I. Our methods may be different but our result is similar.

But still I never really expected to have a gun owner in the family much less one who killed things with it.

And then my oldest son discovered fly fishing. He spends hours every day standing in the rivers just behind his house taking a few quick casts. Lunch break and a quick side trip to the river. Like that. He didn’t catch anything for twenty or so times and then one day he got it. Now he catches them all the time. It is apparently about learning how to watch the river. It is a time for being still and watchful. It is a time to experience the natural world close up. It is a time of beauty and skill and ever watchfulness.

So it was a short hop when someone suggested grouse hunting. Now this kid loves animals. He cannot imagine killing a deer or a bear even though he too is a carnivore. But birds? Birds seem a lot like fish. And the idea of traipsing through the mountains, forging streams, going into deep brush and mastering a new skill appealed. We have a friend who is sort of a gentleman hunter. By that I mean that he has a weekend place up here and every year hires some guides and puts on all his fancy Orvis gear and becomes a woodsman for a day or two. He invited our son.

So Benjamin too spent weeks haunting Orvis for all the right gear. He was warned that shooting grouse who dart and soar and dip and curve is not like shooting skeet which he tried for practice.

“Now son you probably won’t get a bird on your first time out, so try and take in the whole experience” There were warnings too. “Look it gets pretty exciting out there. The birds may fly up practically in your face, or right behind you. It really gets your adrenaline going. I have seen experienced skeet hunters fire wildly when the birds are scattering. They do not fly in a line like skeet. And you cannot shoot unless you know where everyone else and the dogs are. Always be ready to stand down. Because look, in ten years you might not remember whether or not you got a bird, but you will remember, every day for the rest of your life, if you accidentally shot one of the dogs or a person. So be vigilant. Pay constant and thoughtful attention”

Attention. My wildly ADHD adult kid with a gun. Supposedly paying constant attention. I don’t really get to have an opinion. He’s twenty-five. But I’m a mom. I do get to worry. And so I did.

And they were off deep into the woods, high up in the mountains where the snow was already about eight inches on the ground. They left practically at dawn. They’d hired two guides and took two dogs. And four rifles. They trekked into the woods and fanned out in a parallel line. It wasn’t long before the dogs startled a tiny hidden flock and the call went out.


He startled, scanned, and then shouldered the rifle and fired.

He got the grouse with the first hunting shot he ever took.

The guides went nuts. This almost never happens. “You can’t really compare because you have nothing to compare with, but really this is amazing kid” Our friend added, “This is a story son to tell your grand kids.”

It was the only grouse anybody got all day. He felt good. Proud. He knew it hadn’t been a fluke. He got it. Pretty soon he added a woodcock to his sack. He is apparently made for this. The hunter gatherer instinct is alive and well. Darwin probably would have predicted it. ADHD, always scanning, always moving. He is hard wired for this.
Now he is planning a Vermont surf and turf dinner with Mettowee Rainbow Trout and Killington Mountain Grouse on the menu.

And you can just guess what’s on his Christmas list…..


  • Library Lady

    I come from a family of hunters and fishermen. My grandfather was an excellent quail hunter and my dad and brother were great fishermen. My brother caught a huge rainbow trout on 8-pound test line, whatever that means. We always had hunting dogs in our lives, and the men always came home with game which my grandmother did a wonderful job of cooking. (Of course, she and my mother and I always had steaks while the men ate what they killeed!)

  • Kate

    This is awesome! THe friends he will make while hunting will become the lifelong kind. You don't spend hours in the woods with a bunch of guys without getting some sort of comaraderie. I was terrified of guns my whole life and then I moved to South Dakota. Where everyone has a gun. If not multiple ones for all different kinds of game. So, my recovery dad took me out one afternoon to teach me how to shoot a rifle. So I would at least know how if I needed to in these wild climes. And well? I didn't really LIKE it, but I learned a skill. And I'm no longer terrified of guns.

    And there's nothing like fresh pheasant. Totally different taste and fun to experiment with.

  • Molly

    So I sort of loathe the whole idea of hunting. I know it is narrow minded of me since I eat some meat and wear leather shoes. I want to be a vegetarian. Course I want to be skinny too.
    But I totally get what you are saying here and why you are cheering this moment in his evolution.
    You are a good mom who could probably cheer them if they won an election as a Republican!

  • Casdok

    I can see where ADHD would come in handly for this!

  • painted maypole

    ha. 🙂

    i'll never forget a persuasive speech a kid did in my high school speech class about deer hunting… and about how it helps thin out the population so that those who remain don't starve do death during the long cold winter. about how we have thinned out their natural predators, and so hunting is needed. It really changed my attitude towards huntings.

    And indeed, if I eat meat, i know it is an animal who died. And at least it can be an animal who lived wild, who was part of the ecosystem, the circle of life. and not just raised in some barn somewhere.

    still, i don't think I could do it myself.

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