NRA Youth Ambassador: Mentor a New Hunter, Reap Rewards

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posted on August 18, 2020
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Sitting in a blind on a warm May morning, running on four hours of sleep, half a cup of coffee and adrenaline. Wearing my Walmart camouflage clothing and wielding my Mossberg 500, I was ready for turkey season. Well, almost ready for it (I took a nap or two when nothing was happening). I was with my dad and a volunteer guide who was there to help me.

After two hours of sitting in that blind the opportunity to take a turkey comes along. My heart is racing, my hands are shaking, I can’t hardly breathe, I line up my sights and suddenly...BANG! Turkey down! I was so excited that I screamed. From then on, I was hooked. I never would have thought that one shot could start a drive like no other.

That same evening I took my time in the blind learning about turkey anatomy and how to use various turkey calls. I was learning how to use the glass pot call by attempting to copy what my guide did with his. (Let’s just say my call was making noises that should never come out of a turkey.) After roughly two hours, I saw a red head pop out from behind the hill. A huge trophy Tom stepped out into the clearing, puffed up and strutting, looking around to see where the other turkeys were. Watching this turkey make his way over to the feeder was one of the most nerve-wracking things I had ever felt. My palms were sweaty, my knees were weak, and my arms felt heavy. My entire body was shaking and it felt like I was waiting for an eternity to get that perfect shot. Lined up and ready to go, I squeezed the trigger. Bang! Second turkey down, I screamed again, the adrenaline rush was harder than the first turkey I harvested.

To this day, almost five years later, I can still remember the anticipation, the excitement and the rush that I felt that day. That weekend gave me a drive and a passion to follow. Had my father not taken me hunting, I have no idea where I would be. From that hunt, I branched into deer and hog hunting, then dove hunting, eventually making my way into elk and blackbuck. For the past three years I have been using my passion to dedicate my time in assisting leading youth hunts.

I started mentoring in deer and hog hunting, then I began mentoring elk and bear hunting in Colorado. Hunting is not only about harvesting meat, it is about experiences and caring for the world around you. There is nothing quite like seeing billions of stars from the mountainside in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing like watching two whitetail bucks fighting, or watching hawks dive down for prey. There is no adrenaline rush quite like being less than 20 yards from a bear that is as tall as you despite being on all fours.

Every time I step into the woods I learn something new. That something could be about tracking, animal anatomy, how to build a blind and anything in between! I love hunting because it takes time, work and dedication for you to get your food on the table. I love hunting because of the things that I see and learn about. I love hunting for what it is. This all started because of one experience, and I am eternally grateful to every single person who has been a part of my wildlife journey.

With every passing day that I am in the field, I find myself loving life more and appreciating all that is around me. Take a kid hunting or teach them how to shoot…you might change their life. “The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” -Theodore Roosevelt

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