Many of you know that I have grown up in a family of hunters and by extension have become one myself. I began shooting a bow as young as age 6 with my first homemade stick and string longbow. As I grew older, I noticed how much it excited my dad to share this passion with me. When I was old enough to hunt, he dragged me to the local sportsman’s club for the hunter safety course, where I shot a bullseye before heading out the door to pursue my passion on the soccer field. In high school, I was consumed with sports and academics, and I allowed my perfectionist tendencies to take control. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I realized making time to hunt would benefit me and bring me closer to my older brother, Drew. I described hunting as my father’s passion, but it is my brother’s sickness; obsession is too soft of a word.
Freshman year at Western was hard. I was acing my classes and drowning in basketball and softball practices, meetings, and fundraising. I thought I knew how to be a student athlete. I thought sports were a source of stress relief. It turned out, collegiate sports were a full-time job that tore at my confidence and tested my mental toughness day after day. In November, I made it home for a weekend and found myself ushered into a tree stand by Drew. It was the first time I exhaled all semester. I could sit still and breath, and there was nothing I needed more. To top it off, I shot my first deer (a four-point buck) that evening. The experience was relaxing and exhilarating. I experienced gratification for contributing to the family and putting meat in the freezer. I experienced remorse for taking a life. This is the true balance of hunting. I’ve learned that that remorse is a necessary emotion; it reminds me that there is consequence for my actions. It is the feeling that forces me to only take a perfect shot. Most importantly, I made my dad and my brother extremely proud. Ever since this day I have realized that I can find sanctuary in the woods.
Upon reflection, it makes perfect sense that I found myself in the woods after graduation albeit a bit more extreme in the form of a thru-hike. I loved every mile of my hike. After five and a half months in the woods, I’m struggling to readjust to civilization. I’ve been dropped back into my life, exactly where I left it. The difference is that the world is moving faster than I am. Cars seem to drive faster, the days are shorter, and I go to bed much, much earlier! Everyone wants to know what’s next. I don’t blame anyone for asking; it is what we do. We want to know where our friends are on the “life timeline.” Put me down under “living!” I’m enjoying my health and lack of financial responsibilities. I don’t know what’s next, but I’m positive it’s going to be something that makes me happy. For the very immediate future you can find my back at Wild Edge Inc. headquarters, working odds and ends, spending time with my nephews (Bow and Bullet) and preserving my sanity in a tree stand.