I can’t remember when the last time was when I had the urge to smile while having a photo taken. I certainly can’t recall when I was first told by a photographer to “SMILE”! I can’t remember any of that. But I can recall, so vividly, the moment I harvested my first deer and taking that photo with my dad, along with that “urge” to smile.

IMG_6407You see, there was a sense of pride and connectedness I had with my dad, whom I had admired my whole life for many reasons but harvesting food for our family is what I am referring to here. Sitting by my side while we took a photo behind my first deer there’s a moment you see pictured where it looks like pure joy. Honestly, it was! For many reasons though. I want to go into the other moments that aren’t always captured.

First, let me hit on the moment(s) you don’t see pictured but are forever etched in a hunter’s memory. You don’t see me getting up many early mornings, doing my due diligence to be a ‘ready for anything’ hunter. You don’t see the many days my dad and others, spent hunting with me, showing me the land and animals. You most certainly don’t see or hear how heavy my heart was when I pulled the trigger on that 22-250. One thing, I always keep in mind and was taught early on, “When you pull that trigger, NOTHING can undo what is about to be done”. With that I always treated every gun as if it were loaded.   

You can tell there’s many moments, behind the scenes, that aren’t captured in the pictures that are posted with me smiling. You don’t see any of those images associated with this particular image, but I can surely remember all those moments, almost as if they were yesterday. Many of us are wired this way.

There’s one other moment that is rarely captured, that  many anti-hunters LOVE to dig on us about. “Why smile, when you’ve killed an animal”, “…such a sweet innocent animal”. Like I said, that moment is rarely captured because it’s a feeling I think, all hunters, don’t ever stop feeling.DSC_0737

It’s a deep respect for the game we pursue. It’s the knowing that sacrifices had to be made. It’s the food chain turning another day. These moments are endured in some of the worst and best conditions. We know where our meat comes from, because we know where it’s going, and we ultimately know what HAD to be done; we smile as a gesture back to the kingdom, a simple “Thank you for this {animal} God”. If you’re an anti-hunter reading this article, I hope you understand just a little of what a different perspective can teach you. At the end of the day, we all can co-exist and be happy. No hateful remarks, or foul language has to be directed, (although I am sure there will be).

If you’re a hunter or huntress reading this, {fist bump}.