I was around the age of five, when one October morning, my dad came in and woke me up. It was finally time! Deer hunting season was beginning. I was finally old enough to go with. I, of course, couldn’t do much being five and not having my hunter’s safety course completed, but I was eager to spend time with my dad.
We made a stop at McDonald’s to grab a quick breakfast and then off we went to my grandfather’s house. My grandfather was always awake at the crack of dawn when we arrived to greet us with a chipper smile and “Good morning!” We got dressed in camo from top to bottom, overlaid with our bright orange vests. My dad grabbed his gun and off we went.
It was only about a 5-minute walk, but it felt like it took forever! We finally got to “the spot.” There was a double-person tree stand already propped and tied to the tree. I climbed up first and got settled. My dad climbed up next. How we made it up there safely, I couldn’t say. There was barely any sunlight out yet!
Once we were set, we just waited. And waited. And waited. “This is what hunters do all day? This is pretty boring,” I thought to myself. Then all of a sudden, we heard a soft walk and branches snapping. I gleaned with my eyes all over the woods. Then something caught my eye! A squirrel. (Pennsylvania has the largest squirrel population, I swear!) So we waited some more.
It was about 8:30AM. We heard the same soft walk and branches snapping. Another squirrel I assumed. Hardly! It was a doe! She was leading the herd down the hill, through the ravine, over to the corn field. My dad got ready. My heart beat faster and faster.
In those moments, I realized how valuable those times were with my dad, and how important it is for others to have those same experiences. This is one of the reasons I ended up in the wildlife biology field. Wildlife biology is mostly about conserving, preserving, and managing our wildlife and flora, but it is also about creating those lifelong memories of families learning from generation to generation the art and skills of the great outdoors.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: Directorate Fellows Program
Location: Southern Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office