Paying It Forward One Kid At A Time
This is Walker, my oldest grandson, on his first goose hunt when he was eight years old. He's 21 now and joining me to help out this season.
Believe it or not, I was once young. My dad – although a wonderful man – didn’t hunt or fish. But two men who were family friends took me under their wing and taught me the wonderful world of outdoors.
One of those men was Jack Hawkins. Jack was more of a fisherman, but he also loved goose hunting. Sadly, Jack died of a heart attack at an early age. I was about 19 at the time, and I made a promise to myself that I would pay back his kindness by helping other youths learn to hunt.
The other dear friend was Dennis Dunham. Mr. Dunham was fortunate in that he managed to live a long life. He taught me hunting ethics and the most important lesson of all – enjoy just being outdoors and in the moment.
These two wonderful men gave me inspiration to not only teach kids to hunt, but to enjoy the great outdoors.
I did not have any sons, but I did have two beautiful daughters, who always had boyfriends who I enlisted to help. Eventually, a couple of the boyfriends became husbands, and I was blessed with four grandsons.
As time marches on, the oldest of my grandsons, Walker, has become a grown man who enjoys goose hunting. This year he agreed to be my right-hand man.
Walker has been goose hunting since he was eight years old – he’s 21 now. It is a dream come true for me to be joined by Walker.
Let me introduce Walker to you. He is going to take over the rest of this blog and talk about his early goose-hunting experiences.
I was eight years old, and I remember having to wake up really early. I jumped out of my bunk bed and ran through the front door of my house to jump into my grandpa’s truck.
We met up with one of my grandpa’s friends, Nick, and about five other really, really cool guys who were old hunting buddies of my grandpa’s and one of my uncles (who married my beautiful Aunt AJ). One of the guys was named Clifford One Goose, who had been hunting with my grandpa since he was 15 years old. (He was named One Goose, because one morning he shot the Judas bird and scared away the rest of the birds who they were hoping to decoy.)
It was so foggy that morning that it looked like snow in the pictures we took. You could barely see me in the picture because the fog was so thick.
I remember tons and tons of birds and lots of shooting that morning. The guys smeared blood on my face and under my eyes. I felt incredibly honored to be accepted as one of the guys. I was surrounded by family and good friends, listening to all the BS while sitting in the middle of a rice field watching birds decoy. I had never seen anything like it.
This is me on that first goose hunt when the guys smeared goose blood on my face and under my eyes. I felt proud to be a part of the camaraderie that morning.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
It ended up being a pretty big hunt that morning, with 60 or 65 birds.
My next hunt was in a plowed field. That time we sat in blinds – it was completely different. We ended up with about 35 birds.
My third hunt that week was in a field that I will always remember because there was a huge white house that looked like Little House on the Prairie. We sat in corn rows. That hunt turned out to be an 80-bird hunt.
And I was only eight years old and all that happened within one week. I had been on more big hunts in one week than most hunters have in their whole life.
But the part that really made me fall in love with goose hunting was the camaraderie. I enjoy the experience of getting out, putting out a thousand decoys and then the challenge and struggle of dealing with such an intelligent bird. But my grandpa is always lighthearted and funny, joking, chiding and encouraging us. It’s a challenging thing, decoying a snow goose. The more you hunt, the more you realize just how intelligent a snow goose is.
And I love it.