My earliest memories of the outdoors were spent walking around in the woods with my bb gun my dad bought me just praying a squirrel would sit still long enough to squeeze a shot off before darting off and disappearing behind the limb of an old pecan tree. I didn’t have much luck in my early hunting career as an 8-year-old squirrel hunter but I couldn’t wait to get outside after school and give it my best shot. It wasn’t long after that my dad bought me my first bow, we would both shoot and try to hit a card board target we had leaned up against a sand pile, we were happy to shoot a group the size of pie plate at 20 yards. My first tree stand was a homemade death trap made from welded rebar and a plywood platform that my dad chained to a tree. I remember it like it was yesterday the first time my dad took me out to the woods to look for the perfect tree to hang it in.
My excitement was uncontainable and I couldn’t wait to see my first deer up close. The next morning the alarm went off and we left out to try our luck, my dad walked me up to the tree and told me to climb up and he would sit on the ground behind me and try to grunt up a big buck. As I set there I remember all the sounds that I hadn’t ever heard before, leaves crunching, squirrels barking and deer blowing, as the sun started to rise a little doe bolted from the timber and stopped about 100 yards in front of me, she stopped and looked back into the woods. I was locked on to her watching her every move and out of the corner of my eye I see something walking towards my stand, as it walked closer I could make out a rack and my heart was about to jump out of my chest, he stopped broadside at 20 yards but I let him walk my dad had me watch buck masters every Sunday afternoon and my first thought was he’s not big enough. My dad was in shock that I didn’t shoot and even less enthused when I explained my reasoning, central Oklahoma in the mid 80’s wasn’t full of monster bucks and the 2 points or better rule was enforced strictly. It would be many years before I had a buck anywhere close to the one I passed that morning within shooting range but my passion for hunting and the outdoors grew daily.
As a young adult, the introduction of deer management and nutrition were still in the early stages in Oklahoma, we planted food plots that rarely came up and set up numerous trail cameras that only took a few pictures of a deer’s hind section or a blurry picture that was just out of range with glowing eyes would be enough to make you think you were hunting the next double drop tine buck, but faulty equipment and all I loved every minute of it. Growing up in the 80’s didn’t offer much in the way of education in deer management I had no idea a deer loved acorns, nor did I know that shooting little bucks was a bad thing. The bottom line is todays hunters have a much easier road to success then most of us that grew up in 80’s and with all the game camera technology we have today you know every buck on a first name basis before you ever see him in the wild. The next generation of hunters will have all the tools to achieve what we only dreamed of in our youth, the deer population has exploded and hunters are more and more selective in what they consider a trophy. We as hunters need to take all that with a grain of salt when teaching our young boys and girls what hunting is all about. Granted we can teach them deer management and ethical hunting and gun safety but most importantly we can’t have forgot what we learned as young hunters, hunting is not always about killing something.
It’s a great tool for teaching our kids life lessons like respect, respect for fire arms, respect for the land, respect for wildlife and most importantly respect for others, our young hunters have the rest of their lives to chase after trophy’s but we only have a short time with them to instill values that will allow them to move us forward as a society. Teach them why we hunt and explain how our ancestors didn’t just hunt for sport they hunted to survive. Teach them not only how to shoot an animal but how to clean it correctly and not to ever give up on a wounded animal. The survival of hunting in our society will hinge on the next generation that we raise to carry the torch for all the hunters before them, hunting is a tradition that was a way of life for our ancestors we can carry on that tradition by passing our knowledge and passion to the next generation and installing the ethical values that we were raised with. I cherish the days I spent with my dad and brothers in the outdoors and I have a lifetime of memories to reflect on and I plan on sharing those memories with my 3 boys and the memories we create will be a foundation for them as they grow.
Blogger Jason Cariker has been with Final Descent Outdoors since 2014. Jason and his wife live in Stratford, Oklahoma and have three beautiful children they have adopted and welcomed into their family. When Jason isn't running his construction business or spending time with his family he is in church or in the deer woods. He is excited to begin the journey of sharing his passion for the outdoors with his children in the very near future.